Before I post my “best of” 2022 books, I need to post what I read in December! I’ve been loving reading lately. It’s something I almost always enjoy doing, with the occasional rut here and there, but I will say the past six weeks or so have been a great time for reading for me. Especially since I took a break from work, it’s been an extra nice escape. And with the early dark nights, I find myself wanting to tuck myself into bed and read a lot more… as you’ll see with this extra long list!
THE HOUSE OF CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune
The House of Cerulean Sea popped up on my radar over and over again– it has a cult-like following. In the book, a lonely government employee is tasked to go to a remote island that houses an orphanage of misfit mystical creatures to check in and see if there are any problems. It’s an “enchanting story,” but ultimately the genre (fantasy) and the overly cutesy language wasn’t my cup of tea. I do get why people loved it though, so don’t let my review deter you from reading it.
MAD HONEY by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
Jodi Picoult was my favorite author when I was a teenager. I loved her stories and have continued to read her books as they come out. Mad Honey definitely follows her usual prescription of a teen in legal trouble– so teen drama + a court case (+ a lot of interesting facts about bees in this case). I really enjoyed Mad Honey and couldn’t put it down… I had to know how it ended. It did feel like it was missing…. something? Maybe it was how it tied together at the end or maybe it wasn’t missing something but tried to tackle too many things at once so then the book had to figure out a way to tie every lose end together? Regardless, again, I couldn’t put it down– it was a compulsive read for me. This could be a great book club option if you want a lot to discuss after reading!
SCREAMING ON THE INSIDE by Jessica Grose
Now that I’m in the thick of motherhood, I’ve found myself drawn to so many books about parenting. I really didn’t have a desire to do so while I was pregnant (perhaps because it all felt so hypothetical?), but now I find myself seeking out different schools of thought. Overall, I didn’t love Screaming On the Inside, but I did find certain chapters more appealing than others. It was too disjointed for me and covered a range of topics that felt like they could be individual articles in a women’s magazine versus a standalone book. For example, the same book covered how motherhood has changed historically (interesting) and the author’s personal dislike of mom bloggers, particularly Mormons and said specific bloggers by name (unnecessary)– it just didn’t feel cohesive and ultimately had a very judgmental tone. I found myself wanting the book to be something that it wasn’t, because the premise (how American mothers are cracking under the systemic childcare/parenting issues within our society) could be so powerful.
ALWAYS IN DECEMBER by Emily Stone
So I definitely read this book thinking it would be a nice, lovely book for Christmastime. All I have to say is… it wrecked me in the end and wasn’t a cheery December book after all. Every December, Josie pens a letter to her late parents, but this year she (literally) gets knocked off her feet by a young man on the way to mail it. She quickly falls for him and they have a whirlwind time together before he abruptly leaves without saying goodbye…. Their paths cross again, though the timing never seems to be right, despite a clear romantic undercurrent. The middle dragged a tiny bit for me, but it was a quick romantic read!
LOVELIGHT FARMS by B.K. Borison
This is another review to take with a grain of salt. If you love romance novels with a friends-turned-lovers trope, you’ll love this one!!! It’s very Hallmark movie-y with a whole cast of quirky characters set around a charming Christmas tree farm. Personally I just thought it was totally unbelievable and over the top cheesy…. but still a cute Christmas read.
YOLK by Mary H.K. Choi
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! Once I started reading Yolk, I simply couldn’t stop. A beautiful story about what it means to be sisters. If you have a sister, you need to read it. The book follows the strained relationship between two sisters. Older sister June has a high paying job and lives a glamorous “perfect” life and little sister Jayne’s life is a mess as a student at fashion school. Though estranged, they both are in NYC and they reconnect when June is diagnosed with cancer and needs her sister’s help. Yolk so beautifully captures the complicated nuances of sisterhood.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE by Lucy Grealy
Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma as a child and underwent drastic jaw surgery, which left her with permanent facial defects which doctors tried to (unsuccessfully) correct for years. You may be familiar with Lucy Grealy from Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty (which, yes, I’m reading right now!), which goes into the history of their complex friendship. In Autobiography of a Face, Grealy shares her childhood trauma of going through cancer treatments, but really what it was like to go through life looking different (in her words: “ugly.”). I was really taken aback by Grealy’s storytelling, which perfectly conveyed the pull between wanting to be special and wanting to fit in. My only complaint is that I wish the book continued on– it’s heavy on her childhood and light on her adulthood. I would have loved to hear more about her adulthood from her perspective (Patchett’s Truth & Beauty picks up when they reconnect in grad school).