Best Fiction of 2022 | Best Nonfiction of 2022 | Best Debuts of 2022 | Best Kids' and YA of 2022
We had so much fun putting this list together. This year's list is filled with ghostwriters and throuples, explorations of sexuality and identity and grief, some sexy hijinx, plenty of gross monsters, the magic of etymology, women just trying to survive, giant mechs and religion, "domesticity with a side of bones, blood, and body-swapping," Satanic Panic, and so much more. The world may not be at its best right now, but if you’re looking to escape into some great science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, or graphic novels, then the 15 books below may be just the ticket. Don’t forget to put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode before digging in! You’re not going to want any interruptions.
This was the loveliest and most fulfilling read. The story is smart and exciting and thoughtful and human. The author, R. F. Kuang, makes magic and science out of etymology, and the words in this book, the characters, what they have to say — it all rings true. — Doug C.
I absolutely sank into Babel, the story of Robin Swift and his translator friends at Oxford’s school of translation in an alternate version of Victorian England. The book is deeply concerned with language, in all its fluidity and malleability, and the ways that language (and people) get coopted, used, and discarded while those in charge seek power. It feels miraculous that this book exists. It kept me up reading well past midnight on more than one occasion. — Kelsey F.
Florence used to believe in love, so much so, she's a ghostwriter for a bestselling romance author. But after going through a major break-up, love is dead to her. Now with a new editor (who is not in on the secret), a book deadline looming, and a beloved father to bury... the "ghosts" have hit the fan and maybe some sparks will fly! — Mecca A.
Is there anything more marvelously unsettling than a Nick Drnaso graphic novel? Acting Class is an inspired exploration of identity with an ever-present air of menace, and likely the smartest graphic novel released this year. — Keith M.
In Acting Class, Nick Drnaso applies his distinctive visual style and singular perspective on modern life to a group of strangers who meet for a series of acting classes. Through their surprising and sometimes surreal experiences, new lessons are learned about truth, performance, and human connection. — Adam P.
It’s always a bit of an event whenever a new Katee Robert book comes out, and Wicked Beauty, the third entry in her Dark Olympus series, does not disappoint. This book has everything: Greek mythology, polyamory, a tournament to determine the next Ares, a headstrong Helen, and tons of action (in both senses of the word). I couldn’t put this one down! — Lucinda G.
Masterfully paced and plotted with an all-star cast, Nona the Ninth exceeds the highest expectations. The first two novels of the Locked Tomb tetralogy are prerequisite reading if you enjoy knowing what's going on, though only so much understanding can be promised in a series about post-apocalyptic, necromantic space malarky. Nona outshines the previous two, which follow loose mystery arcs, and instead lays most of it in the open (albeit in fragments, with a narrator who learned how to tie her shoes a couple weeks ago). The grumpy, loveable queer folk who make up her found family are centered as well, for anyone who likes their domesticity with a side of bones, blood, and body-swapping. But what really makes Nona the Ninth so special is Nona herself — her love for her people, herself, and for you, too. — Sophie C.
Both a brutal fist to the teeth and a tender cry, Manhunt is unlike anything I've ever read. Fran and Beth are an insurmountable duo and I was locked in from the very first word. This book is a carbon-fiber arrow to the shoulder — it sticks with you and it hurts like a mother. — Stacy Wayne D.
This is such a fun read. Crystal is a curvy, confident, plus-size fitness influencer (hello, goals!) with a gym nemesis who looks just like Chris Evans. The way they prank each other made me giggle so hard. And the spice? I'll never look at a locker room the same way again... — Rose H.
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy continues the story of Dex and Mosscap as they visit the villages and towns on the moon they call home. Many reviewers have called this series “a hug in book form” and I have to agree. This is a perfect and much-needed dose of Cozy Fantasy, sweet and delightful and lovely. — Deana R.
This book. Oh god. This clever, creepy, devastating little book full of stark insights and aching loss and deep love and strange happenings and gross monsters and writing so profoundly good it floored me. This book, it's heartbreaking and funny and scary and will rip out your heart and present it back to you beating and raw. — Heather A.
This Thing Between Us is a horror novel with a bleeding heart. Simultaneously eerie and affecting, it warns how grief can corrupt and let evil into our lives, despite our best intentions. I was struck by how timely and urgent this book was, too: Moreno manages to blend his supernatural scares with the horrors of our contemporary lives. The result becomes something unsettling and deeply honest. — Nicole S.
Five years after surviving a car accident that took her husband's life, Feyi is navigating the path from grief back to love when it takes an unexpected turn. Fans of Emezi’s previous work might find this foray into romance to be an unexpected turn as well, but they’ll be delighted with the result, which is vibrant, tangled, immersive, and verrry sexy. — Tove H.
I’ve been a fan of Kate Beaton for a long time (I think about her rendering of Daisy Buchanan holding her baby by the ankle all of the time), but I didn’t know to expect such a deeply felt book when I started Ducks. The anxieties that young Beaton feels in these pages — wanting to be an artist but not knowing how to build a life around something that doesn’t pay, not knowing how to assert yourself as a young person surrounded by men making assumptions about you, etc. — is so real, and so wonderfully rendered. And the book itself, as a physical object, is so beautiful, too. Always a lovely bonus. — Kelsey F.
As a peer and self-identified "other," I ran to this book like a madman. It's hard to say I was terrified by any of the stories in this compilation because I'm too focused on the justice of an inclusive horror anthology with Big 5 traction, but that's not to say that you won't be. The stories are both feral and poised, grotesque and dazzling, highlighting Hailey Piper's "The Turning" and Tananarive Due's "Incident at Bear Creek Lodge." — Stacy W.
The Genesis of Misery takes giant mechs, religion, and a fantastic array of characters and slams them all together in a fast-paced reading experience that I can most aptly describe as cool. Being inside Misery's head is equal parts exhilarating and frustrating as she drags her feet toward her destiny. But is she actually the next messiah or merely losing her mind? The narrative voice reminds me of part Murderbot, part Gideon the Ninth, while still being wholly its own. If you like some magic mixed in with your science fiction, give this book a read! — Anna B.
The perfect Halloween read, Devil House is the We Do it Different on the West Coast of novels, the alternating light and dark of a picturesque Golden State story with something indiscernibly and undeniably sinister between its pages. John Darnielle (or, Mr. Goats, as I lovingly refer to him) has never disappointed me before, and it is both a relief and a joy to see his artistic talent transcend from my stereo to my bookshelf. — C.J.
I was transfixed by Parish’s last graphic novel, The Lie and How We Told It (I remember reading it at the bookstore counter, hoping no customers would come in and interrupt me); I knew I would love their new book, Men I Trust, but I didn’t know just how much I’d love it. God, this book made my heart ache. The characters are so carefully, wonderfully rendered — all struggling to live their lives in sustainable ways, all struggling to interact with others in meaningful ways, all trying and bumbling and often failing, but still trying again. I really can’t emphasize enough just how special this one feels. I know I’m going to be thinking about it for a long time. — Kelsey F.