My Favorite Fiction Books of 2022
Pleasure Reading - It's Very 2023
Happy New Year! Now that 2022 is officially over, I would love to share some of my favorite reads of the past year. Don’t tell anybody, but the majority of them were not for school (shhhhhhhh!)
As an English teacher, I so often feel guilty for pleasure reading, when I *could* be attempting to find the perfect book for that one kid in my first period I have yet to reach. Although noble, this practice is also outdated and ineffective. I cannot be my best teacher self if I don’t pay attention to the things I love, right?!
My 2023 resolution (or one of them) is to dump that archaic workaholic ideology, and remind myself that reading for pleasure is THE REASON I became an English teacher in the first place!
How can I expect to encourage a passion for reading in my students when I am not encouraging it in my own life?!
Fighting Teacher Burnout
Teacher burnout is a real thing, and most educators feel it, no matter our subject matter or grade level. Administrators also recognize it, and many empathize, but they cannot always do enough to save us from the exhaustive to do lists and expectations that are literally impossible to meet.
Small acts of self care are helpful, but there is not enough time on the yoga mat to combat that total exhaustion that we sometimes feel. I owe it to myself to get back to basics and remember what lights me up and makes me happy, like a good book.This year I will create boundaries in my life to make pleasure reading a priority again.
New Year, New Books to Read!
So, cheers to a new year! A new year of books, comfy couches, cups of tea (or coffee), glasses of wine (or beer), lots of snacks, and remembering why we do this job in the first place.
Here are my top ten favorite reads from 2022. Please note that these are mostly pleasure reads for adults and are not necessarily appropriate for high school students. For my high school recommendations, check out my other blog articles here.
In no particular order,
All Good People Here, Ashley Flowers
Guilty pleasure here! I am sorry not sorry to admit that I LOVE true crime podcasts.
Summary: Margot, a journalist, has moved back to her hometown to help out her ailing uncle. A crime occurs that is reminiscent of one from her childhood. This spurs her reporter instincts to kick in, and she begins her own investigation.
Ashley Flowers is the creator of the hit true crime podcast, Crime Junkie – a one-crime-per-week podcast. When her book hit the shelves last year, I was surprised and secretly excited. Goodreads and Amazon reviewers will tell you that it is not the next new great American novel, and they are correct, but I was hooked right up until the very end. A solid guilty pleasure read.
Purchase All Good People Here
Other Birds, Sarah Addison Allen
Summary: Zoey and her invisible pigeon move into an apartment left to Zoey by her deceased mother. Zoey meets the other occupants of the community, and quickly realizes that things are not as they seem.
Sarah Addison Allen writes a beautiful story. I have been a fan for fifteen years, ever since I read (more like devoured) Garden Spells. This book, like all of her others, was a hit for me. I have missed the way Sarah Addison Allen spins a tale using magical realism (this is her first novel since 2013), characters that I feel connected to immediately, and a southern U.S. setting.
Purchase Other Birds
The Book Woman's Daughter,
Kim Michele Richardson
Note: If you have not read Richardson’s first book about the rare Blue People ancestry, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, that is where you NEED to start.
Summary for The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (because I don’t want to give anything away!): In 1936, Cussy Carter is the last of the Blue People ancestry. Shunned by her neighbors for her skin color, Cussy is isolated in the hills of Appalachia, until she joins the now famous Pack Horse Library Project.
I loved both of these stories so, so, so much. If you love books and libraries and people who value books and libraries, PLEASE read these books.
Purchase The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Purchase The Book Woman’s Daughter
Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
Summary: 1960s. Meet Elizabeth Zott, a female chemist in a male dominated field, turned host of a popular host of a cooking show. This story follows the life and career of Elizabeth Zott, a unique narrator with a perspective on life that not everyone around her shares.
Okay, yes, I know, EVERYONE is talking about this book. But that is because it is just THAT GOOD. Just trust me (and everyone else), this book is worth your time. Elizabeth Zott is an oddly compelling narrator, and she charmed me big time. I really enjoyed the feminist aspect of this story and feel that Garmus created a strong female role model for the ages.
Purchase Lessons in Chemistry
All My Rage, Sahaa Tabir
Summary: Sal and Noor were best friends until the fight happened six months ago. They have not spoken since. Sal’s mother is ill, his father is battling alcoholism, and Sal is trying to keep the family business afloat – all while finishing his senior year of high school. Noor dreams of going to college, but her uncle/guardian forbids her to even apply. Sal and Noor need each other now more than ever before.
This is another story that I loved. I admit that I did read it for school, but I fell in love with this sad story. It is technically a young adult novel, but it did not feel immature. This is a story for all ages.
I loved all of the characters and intensely felt what they were feeling. This may have been emphasized by my many years in a high school classroom watching kids suffer in silence from various traumas, but I was rooting these teenagers on big time.
I wrote about All My Rage as a possibility in my classroom in another post linked here, if you are interested in possibly introducing it to your students. I know, I know, stop working!
Purchase All My Rage
The Christie Affair, Nina Gramont
Summary: Told from the perspective of her husband’s mistress, this story takes place during the eleven days that Agatha Christie went missing after finding out about her husband’s affair.
Now, this book caught me off guard. As some of you know, I am an avid Agatha Christie fan. I find her personal life and career fascinating on so many levels. I knew as soon as I heard about this book that I would enjoy it, but I did not realize how much I would learn about Ms. Christie’s life that I did not already know. Check out my Ode to Agatha Christie post here.
I loved it. I might even read it again.
Purchase The Christie Affair
Anatomy: A Love Story, Dana Schwartz
Summary: 19th century Scotland – Hazel is the daughter of a wealthy family who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Jack is poor and makes his living as a “resurrection man”, illegally digging up freshly buried bodies and selling them to the medical community.
If you have read other posts of mine, you know that I began using Anatomy in my classroom as an independent reading option. The students love it, and so do I!
After teaching Frankenstein forever, I have always been curious about this apparently common grave robbing practice in the UK and US in the 19th century. Anatomy gives us a front row seat to not only the business of “resurrection men”, but also surgical practices at the time. I really enjoyed this one, enough to put it on my pleasure reading list.
Trust me, if you like YA and a kind of gory, fun story, you will enjoy this one and it won’t feel even remotely like work!
Purchase Anatomy: A Love Story
Once again, happy New Year everyone! Thank you for following my reading journey. I hope that you found a story in my list to add to your bedside table, and make time for yourself in 2023.