This year, I read for fun. Maybe it says something about my mental health that I wanted to escape into fiction most days but I’ll tackle that another time. 😂
For now, let’s go over my top 15 books of the year!
|| These first 11 are the romance books that I loved. I chose these to recommend because they kept me interested throughout the whole book. There were many other books that I loved but I had to narrow down my list of 100 to something manageable for a blog post. 😂
After a decade apart, childhood sweethearts reconnect by chance in New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren’s touching, romantic novel Love and Other Words…how many words will it take for them to figure out where it all went wrong?
The story of the heart can never be unwritten.
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.
But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.
Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night her family was forever altered.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents could devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue loving her.
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.
When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.
As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
Kristen Peterson doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.
Nora’s life is about to get a rewrite…
Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it’s her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne’er do well husband Nora’s life will never be the same.
The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it’s the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.
Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story—the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.
Written with Josie Silver’s trademark warmth and wit, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a powerful and thrilling love story about the what-ifs that arise at life’s crossroads, and what happens when one woman is given a miraculous chance to answer them.
Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade and Lydia thought their love was indestructible. But she was wrong. On Lydia’s twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants is to hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life—and perhaps even love—again.
But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.
Lydia is pulled again and again through the doorway to her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.
|| These next two are Audible cast listens that I loved. I’m not usually a big fan of audiobooks with a full cast but these were two that I absolutely enjoyed the whole way through.
It’s officially booty o’clock, I’m alone again in my kitchen choking down a slice of terrible chocolate cake…and I’m pretty sure I just got drunk texted by the man I have a ginormous crush on.
I’ve been daydreaming about Eliot Hoffman’s dimples for two months, and even though I’m sure this was a mistake on his end, it doesn’t mean it’s not an opportunity on mine.
It’s the middle of the night, and I just wanna talk to him. So I text him back.
And then somehow we keep talking . . . ALL NIGHT. We’re both insomniacs, so talking all night soon turns into talking EVERY night. And talking about nothing soon turns into talking about something. And here we go from in-depth analysis of reality TV to my relationship with my family, to his amazing artwork. There’s no topic we don’t cover . . .
Except for who I really am.
It’s the only question of his I won’t answer.
As my crush turns into an avalanche of Eliot, I think of him all the time now. But if he knew who I was, the entire house of cards we’ve built this relationship on would come toppling down.
I want him to be mine, but we might never be more than just a sweet dream . . .
Ride along on this endearing road-trip rom-com from Audie Award nominee Cara Bastone – scripted exclusively for audio!
I have exactly 5 hours and 10 minutes to get from Boston to New York City or the professional opportunity of a lifetime disappears. My only travel option? The second to last seat on a discount bus. Across from the bathroom. Wearing last night’s clothes (don’t ask). All worth it if I can make it in time.
My nerves almost get the best of me, but then there he is, sitting down in the seat next to me. Tall. Friendly smile. Bright indigo streak in his brown hair. The perfect distraction. Turns out he’s on his way to reconnect with an old flame. The one who got away. We can both make it on time – just barely – if the traffic keeps flowing.
Playing road-trip games, avoiding calls from his mother, and effortless conversation keeps us from clockwatching…until the bus breaks down. And my seatmate turns into my copilot as we wrangle a ride in a car three decades old. And hit all the traffic. And oh, Lord, the detours. And somehow I end up careening cross-town on the handlebars of a Citi Bike carrying a box of kittens. (Yeah, don’t ask.)
He’s my hero every step of the way…and I might be falling for him. But what happens when we reach our final destination? Could my seatmate really be my soul mate?
|| The last two are the only personal/professional development books I got into this year. It’s hard to believe I exclusively listened to self-help before 2021. These make my top 15 as must-reads though, even during a year full of fluff reads!
Over the past several years, Dr. Becky Kennedy—known to her followers as “Dr. Becky”—has been sparking a parenting revolution. Millions of parents, tired of following advice that either doesn’t work or simply doesn’t feel good, have embraced Dr. Becky’s empowering and effective approach, a model that prioritizes connecting with our kids over correcting them.
Parents have long been sold a model of childrearing that simply doesn’t work. From reward charts to time outs, many popular parenting approaches are based on shaping behavior, not raising humans. These techniques don’t build the skills kids need for life, or account for their complex emotional needs. Add to that parents’ complicated relationships with their own upbringings, and it’s easy to see why so many caretakers feel lost, burned out, and worried they’re failing their kids. In Good Inside, Dr. Becky shares her parenting philosophy, complete with actionable strategies, that will help parents move from uncertainty and self-blame to confidence and sturdy leadership.
Offering perspective-shifting parenting principles and troubleshooting for specific scenarios—including sibling rivalry, separation anxiety, tantrums, and more—Good Inside is a comprehensive resource for a generation of parents looking for a new way to raise their kids while still setting them up for a lifetime of self-regulation, confidence, and resilience.
This Working Life is the book you need to navigate your career with courage, openness and a good dose of laughter in uncertain times. Springing off the success of her ABC podcast, Lisa Leong, together with journalist Monique Ross, is bringing a deep curiosity to the world of work.
You spend most of your waking life working – a jaw-dropping 90,000 hours for the average person. You deserve to feel joy during that time. But how?
This Working Life empowers you to experiment in the lab of life. You’ll reflect on your highs and lows, harness your superpowers and pinpoint your guiding values. You’ll learn the importance of empathy as you craft a job or curate a portfolio career that can grow with you. You’ll unlock the power of rituals, community and self-care, and build resilience that will help you face life’s inevitable curveballs.
Lisa and Monique get personal, sharing hard-won learnings from their own lives, along with insights from world-leading thinkers like Dorie Clark, Jeremy Utley and Dan Klein, and practical activities to help you take action. No matter where you are, or where you want to be, This Working Life will help you get there.
Well, friends, there you have it! My favorite reads of 2022.
Do you see any of your favorites here?