Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Top 5 Favorite Books of 2022...So Far

We're well over halfway through the year now, so I'm just little late here on the "top 5 favorites of the year so far" post. But it was strategic! I didn't want my post to get lost in the shuffle of all the others. How's that for rationalization? 

The first half of 2022 was frankly a little light on big names and big fiction (with the exceptions of your Emily St. John Mandels and Jennifer Egans, etc.). Many reasons for that, I think — publishers moved a lot of their pandemic-delayed titles to the second half of 2021, which left the first few months of 2022 a little lighter than normal. And an embarrassment of riches in the second half of the year is a trend continuing this year as the latter months of 2022 are absolutely STACKED

Without further ado, here are my five favorite books of 2022 so far (in no particular order). 

5. Marrying The Ketchups, by Jennifer Close — Despite its somewhat odd (trying to be nice) title, I loved this family saga set in Chicago in the fall of 2016. Each of the three main characters here is a hot mess, in life and in love. Will they all pull it together, like the 2016 Cubs? 

4. The Nineties, by Chuck Klosterman — This cultural history is absolutely essential reading for people, like me, who grew up in the 1990s. Nirvana. Biodome. Bill Clinton. American Beauty. World Wide Web. You name it, it's probably here. And the book does a great job of framing the discussion to show you that your 90s nostalgia, while not exactly misplaced, may be a little rosier than warranted — or, at least, everything you thought you knew about the 1990s isn't quite right. 

3. Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel — The third novel in the Glass Hotel / Station Eleven universe is a whirlwind through centuries and different planes of reality. This much going on in a novel this slim would be an abject disaster in the hands of a less skillful novelist. But this works immensely well. Station Eleven is one of my favorite books of the last 10 years or so, and this one is almost as good. 

2. Olga Dies Dreaming, by Xóchitl González — This was the first 2022 novel I read this year, and boy, we were off to a good start! What you think might be a breezy piece of brain candy switches quickly to a dead-serious political novel about the plight of Puerto Ricans. Incredibly well-written. Nearly unputdownable.

1. Groundskeeping, by Lee Cole — A campus novel that's a love story and political, too. Wheelhouse. Probably my favorite of the year so far, not because I was surprised I liked it, but because I was surprised how accomplished it is for a debut.