We’re halfway through the year, which seems like the perfect time to reflect back on the great books and audiobooks we’ve read so far. These are the books that made the NetGalley team laugh, cry, and swoon, and kept us talking nonstop. Here’s a look at our favorite 2022 releases we read this year.
A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall, narrated by Kay Eluvian
If your idea of a good time is letting a book emotionally destroy you, allow me to recommend this queer historical romance following a trans woman and the childhood best friend who believes she died at Waterloo. I don’t know what I can add to the praise that has surrounded this book, except to say that it is an unbelievably tender story that will stick with me for years to come. Viola and Gracewood both have intense emotional journeys that Hall expertly pairs with moments of witty banter, knowing just when to add levity to a scene and when to embrace the cathartic release of the grief they’ve coped with alone. I actually read the physical book while simultaneously listening to the audiobook because I wanted to soak up as much of Hall’s gorgeous writing as possible and savor every second of this masterpiece.
The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa, narrated by Rebecca Mozo and Alastair Haynesbridge
This opposites-attract romantic comedy was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022 and it did not disappoint! Mia Sosa beautifully weaves together humor with incredible chemistry to create a romance that was impossible to put down. The book follows Dean and Solange, who agree to a fake relationship after Solange crashes Dean’s marriage-of-convenience wedding. Dean is deliciously buttoned-up (a hero with a fake dating binder, what’s not to love) and closed off to love. Meanwhile, Solange knows that she deserves someone who is all-in when it comes to loving her and refuses to settle for anything less. It was such a joy to follow along as Dean stepped out of his comfort zone with Solange, and as Solange followed her heart to forge a path for the future she wanted. The audiobook was really well narrated and captured all of the rompy and romantic moments perfectly.
Stay Awake by Megan Goldin
I love a good edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that sucks me in from page one and Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake did just that! Liv wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea of how she got there or why there’s a bloody knife in her pocket. Her last memory is putting the phone down at her desk at work, but when that was, she doesn’t know. Imagine her fear when she sees on the news that a body has been found in an apartment with the words “Stay Awake” drawn in blood on the window—much like the graffiti-like text she found scribbled all over her body when she woke. With a completely mind-bending, unexpected ending, this was my first fabulous read of 2022 and just like Goldin’s earlier works, it was a clever, fast-paced, can-not-put-it-down thriller, just how I like them!
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes, narrated by Karla Serrato
Sonora Reyes will definitely be on my auto-buy author list now and I can’t wait to read more books from them after listening to The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School! This book follows 16-year-old Yamilet Flores as she starts her year at a new Catholic school. She already feels out of place as one of the only Mexican students in her school and she’s not about to let her new classmates know that she’s gay. This YA contemporary book covers so much—racism, homophobia, mental health, coming out, and complicated family dynamics. The author created such realistic characters and they made sure Yami had a support system when times got tough. It’s a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful read that will have you cheering for Yami. The audiobook feels like a big hug for anyone who can relate to what Yami is going through.
1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel, translated by Priscilla Layne
1,000 Coils of Fear, which was nominated for the German Book Prize, really blew my mind. The novel is narrated by an unnamed female character and touches on many topics on a very personal level: growing up in East Germany, racism, sexism, politics, mother-daughter relationships, the loss of a beloved family member, love and friendships, nationality, and the feeling of belonging—to only name a few. Olivia Wenzel’s voice is fresh and unique, it transports emotions straight into your heart and just doesn’t let you go. I read this book almost in one go!
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Book Lovers is an homage to the movies about the guy who visits a small town and inevitably falls in love with one of the locals—but, it focuses on telling the story of the girlfriend left behind, who’s always portrayed as the cold, career-oriented villain. Literary agent Nora Stephens agrees to a trip with her little sister Libby to Sunshine Falls, an idyllic small town straight out of the movies. In Sunshine Falls, she bumps into Charlie Lastra, a book editor from the city who she has avoided ever since their awful first meeting. I love Emily Henry’s writing. She always weaves hilarious banter into her emotional, heartfelt stories. If you enjoyed Henry’s previous books (Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation), I think you’ll love this one too.
Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane
Mad About You tells the story of Harriet Hatley, a wedding photographer who breaks up with her long-term boyfriend after a proposal gone wrong. She quickly moves out, finds a rental, and moves in with a complete stranger, Cal. Harriet and Cal are more connected than they initially realize, and despite a rocky start, they eventually become good friends. While there is a really sweet romance, at its core, this book is about healing from abusive relationships. When an ex comes back to haunt Harriet by publicly twisting the narrative of their past relationship, she must grapple with her destroyed reputation and decide on how to set the story straight. This was a very well-written, witty, and ultimately heartwarming book and I hope readers are as touched by Harriet’s story as I was.
Happy-Go-Lucky written and narrated by David Sedaris
David Sedaris’ books are always a favorite, but this one stands out to me as one of his best in many years, recounting his life and experiences during the pandemic, fixing his teeth, and the surprises involved in watching his father grow very old and then pass away. Filled with his thoughtful reflections, wit, and humor; I will no doubt listen to and laugh through the audiobook of Happy-Go-Lucky again soon.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston, narrated by Natalie Naudus
This was such a fun listen! A fast-paced and hilarious scavenger hunt story about Chloe Green, a high school senior at a southern Christian private school. She’s getting ready to graduate and hoping for valedictorian, all while defying as many strict school rules as she can. When her arch-nemesis Shara Wheeler goes missing, she follows clues—forming new friendships and risking old ones—in the process of tracking her down. Listening to this audiobook was an absolute blast! I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out where Shara was and what Chloe was going to discover about her own life in the process.
From Below by Darcy Coates
The SS Arcadia vanished without a trace after broadcasting strange messages. Now, 60 years later, it has been found more than 300 miles from its intended course. A group of divers set out to explore and film the wreckage to hopefully learn why the ship disappeared. However, the Arcadia is much more than just a mysterious wreck and the divers soon find themselves in a nightmare. As someone who has a fear of water and loves a good fright, I was ecstatic to read this one. From the first chapter, I was gripped by the promise of some spooky things happening. The book switches between time periods—the present day and the final days of the Arcadia—which works to build the mystery. The action and eeriness are so well written and I could feel what was being described. While reading I would catch myself holding my breath, tensing my muscles, and even feeling a bit of sea sickness. I highly recommend From Below if you’re looking for a good horror book. It has all the action, thrills, and creepy elements that Coates is known for.
Diary of a Film by Niven Govinden
Niven Govinden is one of the UK’s finest writers, and this exploration of art, voyeurism, queer love, and narrative is his best book to date. Simmering with tension, brilliantly evocative, and quietly devastating, this will be one of the top books of the year.
Run Towards the Danger written and narrated by Sarah Polley
I listened to Sarah Polley’s Run Towards the Danger months ago and am still haunted by the immediacy of her telling me, personally, intimate stories of her life. Though this book is broken into six essays, there are common themes that weave them together. Of significance, the body holds memories whether or not our conscious mind chooses to deal with them. In order to break the cycle of physical pain, Polley runs towards the danger, physically and emotionally. Along her journey, we confront the insidiously bad cultural values inherent in childhood fame. We consider the nuanced damage inflicted on sexual abuse survivors who say, “me, too.” We bear witness as Polley breaks the cycle of terrible parenting and emerges, triumphant, as a mother. I love this book! I will forevermore go out of my way to read or watch anything Sarah Polley creates.