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You Just Want Some Good Books, Part 3
Some of my favorites of the year
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and were able to squeeze in some reading time in between the turkey.
This week, I’m sharing some of my favorite books of 2022. I’m curious to know what some of your faves were. These aren’t all 2022 releases — they’re just books I highlighted throughout the year and think are worth revisiting.
On Friday, I’ll share the annual What To Gift If thread. It’ll be a special email inviting you to comment with your gift-giving conundrums. Give me some background about the gift recipient and I’ll provide you with a custom book recommendation or two for your consideration. (Important note: You can also ask for a rec for yourself.)
And, now, what to read if …
You’re a Contemporary Fiction Fan
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is the best book I’ve ever read on friendship. The novel follows two childhood best friends, Samson Masur and Sadie Green, who reconnect after a chance encounter on a subway platform. Their meeting sparks a creative collaboration on a video game called Ichigo that becomes wildly successful, making Sam and Sadie wealthy and famous in the gaming world. Their friendship is both the defining feature of their lives and a complicated, ever-changing relationship.
After finishing it, I laid on my couch, unable to do anything but think about the book I’d just completed.
Read my full review here.
I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts. It’s about food writer Nina Dean over her 32nd year. Shortly after her birthday, she begins a relationship with Max, a man she meets on a dating app. The two of them have pitch-perfect chemistry, and it seems like the cherry on top of Nina’s lovely life, filled with friends, parties and a book deal. But when Max suddenly disappears after saying, “I love you,” Nina is forced to acknowledge everything she’s been ignoring — her father’s worsening dementia, her deteriorating relationship with her best friend and her editor’s dismissal of her book idea.
On the surface, Ghosts is a book about dating and relationships, but really it’s about the ghosts that haunt us all, the baggage we carry with us.
Counterfeit is a rollicking ride of a novel about two Asian American women who build a multimillion-dollar counterfeit handbag ring.
At the novel’s beginning, Ava Wong, a corporate-lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom struggling to manage her toddler’s tantrums, reunites with Winnie Fang, her former roommate at Stanford. Winnie dropped out before finishing her first semester, caught up in a scandal of Chinese students paying others to boost their SAT scores. Now, she has a new scheme. She purchases luxury bags at boutiques and department stores and then returns perfectly made replicas, pocketing the refund. On top of that, she sells the original, authentic bags. Ava, lost and floundering, tepidly joins her ring and eventually becomes Winnie’s deputy.
Longer write-up here.
You’re a Romance Lover
Lucy Parker’s Act Like It follows Lainie Graham, a beloved actress, and Richard Troy, an actor known equally for his talent and temper, starring in a play in London’s West End. After a photo of them goes viral, the show’s producers pressure Lainie and Richard to pretend to date, a stunt devised to drive ticket sales. Lainie signs on to the plan when the producers agree to donate a portion of the play’s proceeds to a charity she supports, and Richard recognizes a chance for Lainie’s solid reputation to boost his. Their fake relationship works, perhaps too well.
Lucy Parker is a gem and this series, in particular, is a standout.
My full review here.
Funny You Should Ask, a rom-com by Elissa Sussman, features a former leading man, Gabe Parker, hoping to make a comeback and the reporter, Chani Horowitz, who wrote an infamous profile on him a decade earlier. After ten years apart, the pair reunite for Chani to report another article in a scheme cooked up by their publicists. The book alternates between their first meeting — when the couple had an undeniable spark — and their reunion — as they both try to figure out how one article came to define their lives.
The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, and the novel challenges notions of masculinity and what we expect from actors playing an Avenger or super spy.
Catch up on my full write-up.
Beginner’s Luck is the first book in a series about three friends who win the lottery. Their prize is enough to change their lives but not enough to allow them to quit their jobs and become professional lounge lizards.
Beginner’s Luck features one of my favorite fictional couples and a fictional friend group I’d love to join. Their relationships build over the course of the three books, making it a joy to read.
You Love a Whodunnit
Alex Segura’s Secret Identity is such an inventive, creative take on noir. It follows Carmen Valdez, an assistant at Triumph Comics, a middling comic book company. Carmen, who recently relocated to New York from Miami, dreams of writing her own superhero, but her boss blocks her at every point. So when a co-worker, Harvey Stein, approaches her about working together to develop a new character, Carmen tentatively agrees, even though she knows he’ll get at all the credit. Together, they create a new female superhero, the “Lethal Lynx,” who becomes wildly popular with readers. Then, Harvey is brutally murdered, and Carmen becomes obsessed with finding the culprit.
Secret Identity also incorporates pages of the “Lethal Lynx” comics, letting readers see what Carmen has created. It’s a cool addition that really adds to the reading experience. While I’m normally a huge audiobook advocate, I think this is one you should read with your eyes.
Read my Q&A with Alex Segura here.
The Verifiers stars Claudia Lin, who recently started working at Veracity, a secretive company that investigates clients’ matches on dating apps. A lifelong fan of Jane Austen and mystery novels, Claudia thinks she’s landed her dream job. She spends her days running background checks on bad dates, monitoring the social media accounts of ghosters and ensuring long-term partners are what they seem. But, when one of her clients vanishes, Claudia goes rogue, breaks Veracity’s protocols and investigates the disappearance. While searching for her client, she uncovers a conspiracy.
Catch up on my Q&A with Jane Pek here.
Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nage, writing under the pen name Juneau Black, put a fresh spin on the traditional village mystery by setting Shady Hollow in a community of animals.
I know it’s a weird concept, but it works. In the village of Shady Hollow, foxes, mice, moose and owls all live happily together. They visit the coffee shop owned by kindly moose Joe and work at Reginald von Beaverpelt’s sawmill. That is, until Otto Sumpf, a crotchety toad, is found dead. Vera Vixen, a fox who works as a reporter, fears the police department isn’t up to solving the case and sets out to find the murderer herself.
You’re a Non-Fiction Reader
I devoured Secret City, James Kirchick’s new book highlighting the role gay Americans played in nearly every major political event — from the rise of McCarthyism to the Iran Contra affair — of the 20th century. I was blown away by both the storytelling and the level of reporting and research Kirchick did to write such an in-depth history. I knew I had to recommend it immediately.
Ann Patchett wrote These Precious Days during the pandemic when she found herself unable to write a long-form novel. She turned to essays and I’m so glad she did. The collection covers everything from Snoopy as a writerly role model to the magic of middle-grade author Kate DiCamillo to Patchett’s relationship with her three fathers. Each is a joy to read.
I love this collection so much that after listening to it, I ordered a physical copy from Patchett’s bookstore, Parnassus Books. I knew I needed a copy that I could re-read, mark up and hug. When I discovered the book was signed, I almost cried with joy.
Read my full review here.
Tabatha Carvan’s essay collection is — as the title implies — about more than the actor. It’s about loving something, anything so much it feels like an obsession.
I adored this book so much that I messaged Carvan on Twitter to tell her! My copy from the library is filled with sticky notes on passages I need to write down and I’m planning to buy my own copy soon so I can mark it up as well. Coming off a few rough years, I think we all need a reminder that doing what makes us happy is worth it.
Read my Q&A with Tabitha here.
Thanks all! Don’t forget to share your favorites with me.
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