At the end of each year, the NetGalley team loves reflecting back on the great books and audiobooks we’ve read. These are the books that made us laugh, cry, and swoon, and kept us talking nonstop. Here’s a look at our favorite 2022 releases we read this year, and if you want to see even more of our 2022 favorites take a peek here.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
This one is worth the hype. Completely absorbed, I read Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow in essentially one sitting during a 6-hour cross-country flight. I was honestly a bit shocked by how deeply I loved this book. Scenes kept playing like a movie in my head, even a month later. Once they started to fade, I bought the hardcover to re-read in print format to experience it all over again. The New York Times called it “a love letter to the Literary Gamer”—but let me assure you, even if you don’t consider yourself a gamer or a reader of literary fiction, you will connect with this story of creativity, trauma, forgiveness, love, and, most importantly, friendship.
Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake
I read Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail in June and it’s stuck with me throughout the year. It was a book I never wanted to put down while I was reading it and haven’t been able to stop thinking about since finishing it. In this contemporary sapphic romance, designer Astrid Parker and carpenter Jordan Everwood learn to put differences aside as they work together on a reality tv home renovation show. Astrid has a special place in my heart because there were so many parts of her that resonated with me. She transforms from someone who was brittle and breaking under the pressures of a future she never asked for to someone daring to take risks, and I loved how her journey of exploring her bisexuality was written. Jordan is equally wonderful and her path of recognizing that she is worthy of love and that her talents deserve to be celebrated really hit me in the heart. Add in a supportive queer friend group, the perfect balance of humor and levity to contrast the real human emotions at the core, and some truly delicious sexual tension—and this was a winner for me all around.
Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert, narrated by Alex Moorcock, Zara Hampton-Brown
Katee Robert definitely sneaks into my dreams because there is simply no way that she can time and time again capture the exact visceral emotions I want to feel when reading a romance novel so perfectly. Wicked Beauty is the third book in the Dark Olympus series and kicks off with Helen Kasios learning that her hand in marriage will be the prize in a competition to be the next Ares. Helen shocks everyone by entering herself. She’s determined to win, even if it means defeating Achilles Kallis and Patroclus Fotos, the competitors she’s quickly falling for. Robert writes poly relationships so beautifully and knows exactly how to create the perfect balance of strengths between them. Action, adventure, intrigue, romance, and (of course) Robert’s signature scorching heat—what more could I ask for? Plus the narrators do a really phenomenal job of capturing the character’s voices and emotions. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series.
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
There’s a phrase I remember reading in a John Green novel many years ago: “imagine others complexly.” If there’s a sentence that can sum up Kate Beaton’s graphic memoir, I think it’s that one. Though the book shares Beaton’s own experiences of working in remote northern Alberta to pay off her student debt, it’s also a sensitive and unflinching look at the life many have to lead just to provide for themselves and their families in this area. Even some of the more harrowing parts of the book (which cover sexual assault, depression, and sexism) are so thoughtfully explored. It’s not necessarily a “fun” read like much of Beaton’s previous work, but it opens a lot of important conversations and will stick with me for many years to come.
Jackal by Erin E. Adams
I got really into thrillers and horror this year, especially the sub-genre of social horror. Jackal is an incredible social-horror book with thriller and literary fiction elements. Jackal follows a Black woman as she returns to her hometown, a place rife with stories about what lives in the woods. This book is so tense and suspenseful while also including a sharp critique of the systems that fail to protect Black girls. Adams’ unique storytelling made it hard not to flip ahead to see what happened.
We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
I haven’t stopped thinking about We Deserve Monuments since I tearfully read the last page. This book has some of the most beautiful writing that I’ve read in a long time and Jas Hammonds creates a vivid world for their characters. This YA debut is part mystery, part romance, and part coming-of-age story that will make you cry and feel a whole lot of feelings. I can’t recommend We Deserve Monuments enough!
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
For the second year in a row, an Emily Henry book has made my favorite books of the year list. We’ve got a small town setting, meta-references about romance/romantic comedy tropes, and some hilarious, snarky banter—Book Lovers may be my favorite Henry book yet.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, narrated by Samara MacLaren
The Very Secret Society of Witches is a lovely light fantasy story in which witches are forbidden to spend time together for their own safety, but an awkward lonely witch named Mika decides to break the rules to help train some mischievous magical orphans. In the process, she befriends the orphans’ caretakers and encounters a handsome, but brooding and gruff, librarian. Romance and magic are in the air! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook and would love to read more in this world—hopefully, the author will write sequels (or prequels)!
See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon, narrated by Emily Lawrence
I’m a sucker for repetitive storylines in the style of Groundhog Day, so when I saw that this was a story about a first day of college gone wrong and stuck on repeat, I knew I wanted to listen to it. As Barrett and Miles realize that they are stuck in a repeated day together, they slowly turn from enemies into friends, and it’s no surprise when things take a romantic turn. This story was sweet, enchanting, and hit all the right notes!
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, narrated by Catherine Ho
The School for Good Mothers immediately captured my attention and imagination. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ways we judge, condemn, and reward mothers, and how dangerously close we are to a world in which our private lives are lost. How do we define good and bad? Where is there room for nuance?
The Girl in White by Lindsay Currie
This book was the perfect spooky, cozy read for fall. Lindsay Currie writes some of the best young characters with heart and bravery and this one has to be my favorite of all of her books. Mallory has just moved to a Salem-esque town with her family. She doesn’t buy into the whole haunted/cursed tourist attraction the town loves so much until she has a terrifying encounter. I read this right before fall hit and it got me immediately in the fall mood. It’s a middle grade book so it’s perfect for younger and older fans of fall, Halloween, friendship, and strong female characters.
Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn, narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt
The second book in the Legendborn Cycle series was everything I could want after reading Legendborn last year. This series has a unique spin on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Bree is smart, brave, kind, and strong—everything I look for in a heroine. The magic and history that Tracy Deonn includes completely pulled me into the story. It ticks all the boxes for a YA fantasy for me and I get to see a perspective that is different from my own. Joniece Abbott-Pratt is the narrator and is one of my favorites. She does such a great job at bringing all of the characters to life.
Finding Me written and narrated by Viola Davis
While I loved Viola Davis as an actress before finding this book, I am completely in awe of her now! Finding Me is powerful and heartfelt. My heart broke, yet I was lifted up by her positive, undying determination to go on, despite the ugly racism she endured constantly. Brutal, yet honest, her story was shocking and inspiring. With Davis narrating this audiobook herself, it was by far my favorite read of 2022!
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver does Dickens in this retelling of David Copperfield, set in Appalachia during the height of the opioid epidemic. Damon Fields, nicknamed Demon Copperhead, tells his story from birth to an addict, through childhood abuse, the foster care system, and near-redemption—only to be struck down by an injury for which he is prescribed OxyContin. The story continues in a downward spiral from there. Kingsolver takes aim at institutional issues like the child-welfare system, rural-American poverty, and addiction. And she does not pull any punches when it comes to the pharmaceutical companies who pushed Oxy into these communities. It’s a heartbreaking and hopeful read, and well worth the time.