all of my 2021 and 2022 book recommendations Here’s the complete list of the books I recommended in 2021 and 2022. I’ve bolded my favorites of the favorites. If you want more, here are my book recommendations from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015. 2022 Dava Shastri’s Last Day, by Kirthana Ramisetti. A wealthy philanthropist brings her family to a private island to disclose her terminal illness and plans for her death. Emma Straub said, “If Succession were about a multicultural family who actually loved each other, it might look like this.” I really liked it. Ghosts, by Dolly Alderton. It’s light but it’s dark. It’s a rom com but it’s more. It’s about ghosting but it’s also about aging parents and changing friendships and career angst and the general mess of life, and it’s funny. The Maid, by Nita Prose. The narrator, a neurodivergent maid at a high-end hotel, finds a wealthy guest dead in his bed and is accused of his murder. Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper, by Hilary Liftin. Clearly inspired by the marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, this is an account of an up-and-coming actor who marries a Hollywood A-lister and finds that life with him is not she expected — and escape is not easy. All This Could Be Yours, by Jami Attenberg. A family deals with the impending death of their very difficult patriarch. My Italian Bulldozer, by Alexander McCall Smith. A Scottish food writer, reeling from a break-up, heads to Italy to finish his latest book. Mishaps abound (including a problem with his rental car, which leaves him renting a bulldozer instead). The Christie Affair, by Nina de Gramont. This is the second novel I’m recommending about the time in 1926 when Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days, claiming on her return to her faithless husband that she didn’t know where she had been. This one is better than the first, although they are both good and apparently I will read an endless quantity of novels about her disappearance. Fall or Fly: The Strangely Hopeful Story of Foster Care and Adoption in Appalachia, by Wendy Welch. Fascinating and heart-breaking and frustrating and important. Paula, by Isabel Allende. A mother’s memoir of family, as her daughter lays in a coma. Beautiful and haunting. Yearbook, by Seth Rogen. It’s presented as a collection of personal essays, but it’s really more of a memoir about growing up Jewish in Canada in the 80s and 90s, doing a lot of drugs, and trying to figure out family, girls, and comedy. At the start I thought it might be A Bit Too Much, but it’s genuinely funny. Olga Dies Dreaming, by Xochitl Gonzalez. A wedding planner and her politician brother, abandoned by their radicalized mother, struggle with relationships, political corruption, and family secrets. The Lifeguards, by Amanda Eyre Ward. Three mothers try to protect their teenage sons when they might be involved in a woman’s suspicious death. The Intangible, by C.J. Washington. It’s about a woman who’s not pregnant but is convinced she is, and what happens around her. Secrets of Happiness, by Joan Silber. In a story told by six different narrators, a family finds out their father/husband has a second wife and two kids living across town. This is about what happens afterwards. A Splendid Ruin, by Megan Chance. An orphan goes to live with rich relatives in 1906 San Francisco, and quickly realizes something is off about her flashy new family. Old New York, by Edith Wharton. If you need to escape the current moment in time, these four novellas will let you instead worry about the morals of the mid-1800s. Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel. I don’t know what to say about this! There’s a writer on a book tour and a detective using time travel, and a son exiled from his rich family, and it jumps between centuries. I did not like it quite as much as the author’s Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel, but she writes beautifully and the experience of reading this is almost trance-like. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. A scientist in the 1960s fights sexism, becomes a cooking show star (insisting the whole time that she is a chemist, not a chef), raises a dog and a child, and fights more sexism. It’s darkly funny, quirky, and satisfying. Happy for You, by Claire Stanford. Midway through her dissertation, a woman leaves grad school to study happiness at the world’s third largest tech company, while grappling with race, family, (possible) marriage, and (possible) motherhood. Counterfeit, by Kirstin Chen. Rules-follower Ava Wong gets swept up into her college friend’s luxury handbag counterfeit scheme. It’s both a crime caper and an exploration of race, stereotypes, friendship, and who we believe. The Latecomer, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. A marriage borne out of tragedy produces triplets who feel a strong disconnect from their parents and each other. I do love a dysfunctional family saga and this is one of them, although I think I still prefer Korelitz’s The Plot. The Golden Couple, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. A woman confesses her infidelity to her husband and tries to repair her marriage with the help of an unorthodox therapist, but all is not as it seems. I picked this up intending to read for 10 minutes before bed and was still reading hours later. Not all of it is entirely plausible, but you’ll find yourself not caring about that because it’s so riveting. Love Marriage, by Monica Ali. An engaged couple each struggle with their own demons, their families, and each other. I’d Like to Play Alone, Please, by Tom Segura. I love his stand-up comedy and he’s just as funny in book form. Any Other Family, by Eleanor Brown. Three different families adopt siblings, vowing to function as one big family to keep the kids connected. It turns out, though, that chosen family can be just as aggravating as the family you’re born into — and then the kids’ mom announces she’s pregnant again. I really loved this. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin. After creating a wildly successful video game, two lifelong friends contend with fame, love, and their relationship with each other. The Boys, by Katie Hafner. At the start of this book, the father of two boys receives a letter from a bike touring company, politely asking that he never use their service again. What follows is … a love story? A story of loneliness, connection, family, and grief. It is beautiful in ways that you don’t see coming, and I loved it. The Startup Wife, by Tahmima Anam. A newlywed coder and her husband develops a wildly popular app with her husband, who soon becomes a messiah-like figure to users (the app creates customized spiritual experiences for the non-religious). Things go sideways. The Foundling, by Ann Leary. A young woman in the 1920s gets a job at an asylum for women and begins to unravel the dark truth of what’s happening there. Peter Darling, by Austin Chant. A transgender re-telling of Peter Pan, in which Peter returns to Neverland as an adult and forges a surprising connection with Hook. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, by Sangu Mandanna, about a nanny to three young witches who must question the witching rules she grew up with. Cozy in a way that reminded me of The House in the Cerulean Sea. Highly recommended. Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris. As always, he’s both funny and dark while writing about his family, and this time the pandemic too. Girls They Write Songs About, by Carlene Bauer. The story of two friends over decades. Beautifully written and perfectly captures the intensity of 20something friendship, as well as how time can change the thing you once made together. The Lost Ticket, by Freya Sampson. Strangers unite to help an elderly man who is searching for a woman he met on a bus 60 years ago. Someone called this a “hug in book form” and that’s pretty much right. How to Fall Out of Love Madly, by Jana Casale. Three 30something women try to navigate friendship, roommates, family, work, and love, while grappling with Bad Behavior from men. Gossipy and often relatable. The Complicities, by Stacey D’Erasmo. After her husband is arrested for Madoff-like crimes, a woman tries to build a new life for herself. Lucy By the Sea, by Elizabeth Strout. As Covid lockdowns begin, a woman and her ex-husband isolate together in Maine. It’s beautifully written. Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton. That friend everyone has in their 20s who’s always slightly tipsy and a complete mess with men, but enormous fun? That is this book. These Precious Days: Essays, by Ann Patchett. She is a beautiful writer and the title essay will make you cry, or at least it did me. Little Children, by Tom Perrotta. Two suburban parents, both aimlessly drifting in unsatisfying marriages, are drawn into an affair against a backdrop of stultifying suburbia. Very John Cheever meets Madam Bovary. Now Is Not the Time to Panic, by Kevin Wilson. Two teenagers cause panic in their small town with a mysterious poster, still reverberating 20 years later. I love everything Wilson writes. My First Popsicle: An Anthology of Food and Feelings, edited by Zosia Mamet. Various people writing about food, including Danny Lavery on the food literary children take when running away, Jia Tolentino on acid chicken, Tony Hale (Gary from Veep!) on his love of chain restaurants, and more. Diary of a Provincial Lady, by Em.M. Delafield. This is Bridget Jones if she were married and writing in 1929, and it is hilarious. 2021 Park Avenue Summer, by Renee Rosen. When Helen Gurley Brown became editor of Cosmopolitan magazine right after publishing her notorious Sex and the Single Girl (a book I stole from my mom and read incessantly as a teen), her plans to sex up the magazine created scandal and she faced aggressive opposition from people (mainly men) who were shocked and outraged by the content she wanted to run. The novel is a fictionalized account of a young woman who moves to NYC in the ’60s and becomes Helen Gurley Brown’s assistant in the middle of all this. It’s fiction, but it’s based what really happened and it’s pretty fascinating. Dreamland, by Nancy Bilyeau. In 1911, an heiress is pressured into spending the summer at Coney Island with her rich family and her sister’s highly sketchy fiancé. There are murders and intrigue and way too much money. Dear Mrs. Bird, by AJ Pearce. Set in London during World War II, it’s about a young woman who hopes to become a journalist but accidentally ends up as the assistant to a ladies’ advice columnist … and begins to secretly write back to letter writers whose troubles the columnist deems too unpleasant to answer. I Suck at Girls, by Justin Halpern. A very funny book of essays about the author’s dating life from boyhood on, entwined throughout with highly amusing advice from his dad on all aspects of life. (You may know the dad from the author’s viral Twitter account, Shit My Dad Says.) The Assistants, by Camille Perri. An underpaid assistant to a rich CEO finds a way to use her boss’s expense account to secretly pay off her and her fellow assistants’ student loans. It’s smart and funny and will speak to anyone who’s ever been underemployed or resented their overprivileged boss. The Chicken Sisters, by KJ Dell’Antonia. Two family-owned restaurants with a century-old rivalry battle it out on a reality TV restaurant competition that ends up bringing out plenty of family drama. Necessary People, by Anna Pitoniak. Two friends, one rich and one who’s had to work hard for everything she has, find themselves at professional odds when they start working for the same cable news show and it becomes clear one of them only has her own interests at heart. The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner. A young Irish immigrant, miserable in early 20th century New York, answers an ad from a San Francisco man looking for a mother for his young daughter. The man is polite and treats her well, but it soon becomes clear all is not as it seems. I read this all in one (long) sitting and could not put it down. You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism, by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. This is two sisters, one of them a comedian, writing about the crazy racist things that have happened to the other, and I didn’t know that humor and horror and fury could be combined so effectively. It’s excellent, and if you’re white it’s eye-opening even if you thought you already knew. We Run the Tides, by Vendela Vida, about a teenage girl’s relationship with an attention-seeking friend. It perfectly captures what it’s like to be a 13-year-old girl — the shifting nature of reality, the blend of the ridiculous and the profound, and the precariousness of friendships. The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, by Marie Benedict. In 1926, the real Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days, claiming on her return that she didn’t know where she had been. This is a fictional explanation for what might have happened, involving her faithless husband and an excellent mystery. Sorrow and Bliss, by Meg Mason. It’s about family and relationships and the impact of mental illness on both, and it’s funny and snarky and moving. Girl A, by Abigail Dean. Lex is known in the media as Girl A, who escaped from the house where her parents had kept her and her siblings captive for years. This is about what happened afterwards and how each of them moves forward. It’s heart-wrenching but very good. A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, by Sally Franson. An English major working at an ad agency is tasked with convincing authors to sign on to corporate marketing campaigns, as she struggles to decide where her ethical lines are. It’s both funny and serious. Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley. A woman in 1915 decides to escape her life as a spinster living with her brother by roaming the country in a mobile bookstore, selling books as she goes. It’s funny and charming. Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny. A strangely charming story of Jane; her ladies’ man boyfriend, Duncan; his seemingly perfect ex, Aggie; Aggie’s extremely odd husband, Gary; and the small, too-close-for-comfort town they all live in. What Could Be Saved, by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz. Two sisters are contacted by a man claiming to be their brother who disappeared decades earlier when they were kids. It alternates between the story of their reunion and what happened to their family 47 years ago, and it’s beautifully written and riveting. All Girls, by Emily Layden. Told in the voices of many different students at an all-girls boarding school that seems to be covering up an assault, it’s a story about what it’s like to be a teenage girl trying to figure out yourself, friendships, authority, and the world in general. The Fortunate Ones, by Ed Tarkington. A coming-of-age story in which a young man’s friendship with a son of a wealthy family pulls him into a different world. The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. A writer whose career is in decline steals an irresistible plot from a student who died shortly after taking his writing class and finds great success with it … but then begins receiving anonymous messages from someone threatening to reveal the theft. Mary Jane, by Jessica Anya Blau. Fourteen-year-old Mary Jane, who has strict parents with strict ideas about values, gets a summer job nannying for a psychiatrist — who happens to have a rock star patient and his famous wife secretly living with him for the summer. Things are learned by all. Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I’m reading everything by this author after loving The Plot recently. In this one, an admissions officer at Princeton confronts her failing marriage, issues with her mom, and a momentous decision from the past. There are fascinating details about how admissions officers work! Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, by Elyssa Friedland. As two families who own a historic Catskills resort gather to decide whether to sell it, family drama, dysfunction, and secrets emerge. It’s funny and includes a lot of enjoyable old-timey Catskills nostalgia. (The author’s The Floating Feldmans is also good.) Home Made: A Story of Grief, Groceries, Showing Up — and What We Make When We Make Dinner, by Liz Hauck. A woman’s account of what happened when she spent one night a week teaching teenage boys living in a state home how to cook. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry. Poppy and Alex have been best friends since college and take a trip together every year. On the last one, things Went Awry and now they must fix things. This is like the book version of a really delightful rom-com, and genuinely funny in surprising ways. The Killings at Badger’s Drift, by Caroline Graham. A detective in a small British village must solve the murder of a kindly 80-year-old woman who saw something she shouldn’t have. This is cozy and delightful, like if Barbara Pym wrote a murder mystery. Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner. Sylvie has been a perfect politician’s wife for years but when her husband’s affair makes headlines, she and their grown daughters begin to rethink what they want from life. The Very Nice Box, by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett. An engineer mourning her girlfriend develops an unexpected relationship with her new boss at a trendy furniture company … who might not be who he appears. This was an unexpected pleasure and a funny skewering of corporate culture. Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Four siblings with a rock star father grapple with fame, family, and the legacy of their parents. And there’s a really big party. The Kitchen Front, by Jennifer Ryan. Four very different women compete in a British wartime cooking competition during World War II. Friends Like Us, by Lauren Fox, which is about what happens to two close friends when one starts dating the other’s BFF from high school. It is, as you might imagine, about trust and betrayal, but it’s also funny and feels real. A Good Family, by A. H. Kim. When a wealthy pharma exec is sent to prison, her sister-in-law steps in to help with the kids … and uncovers a string of lies and deception. Much suspense and excitement ensues. Morningside Heights, by Joshua Henkin. If you’ve learned anything about my taste in books from these weekly recommendations, you might know that I love sweeping family sagas, and this is one. It’s the story of a college professor, his wife, their marriage and children, and how things change as they begin to lose him. You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Grace Sachs is the author of a book telling women the signs of problems in their partners were there all along, if only they’d paid attention … and then discovers she hadn’t known her own husband at all. We are the Brennans, by Tracey Lange. A daughter returns home to a family full of secrets, as well as to the man she left years before without explanation. This was like a delicious soap opera. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox. The story of a young woman in Germany on the brink of World War II, and her granddaughter who finds her letters decades later. Beautifully told. Under the Whispering Door, by TJ Klune. It’s the latest from the author of The House in the Cerulean Sea (which was my favorite book of 2020) and is about a man who dies, ends up in a tea shop between worlds, and … undergoes some changes. It shares a lot of DNA with his previous book, and I loved it. Several People Are Typing, by Calvin Kasulke. Told entirely through Slack messages, this is the story of an office, complete with morning meetings, out-of-touch bosses, and a cursed spreadsheet. It’s very funny. The Second Home, by Christina Clancy. As three siblings try to decide what to do with their family’s summer home on Cape Cod, long-buried secrets are reckoned with. The Husbands, by Chandler Baker. In a neighborhood of high-powered, accomplished women and their extremely supportive, housework-loving husbands, all is not what it seems. Small Pleasures, by Clare Chambers. A reporter in 1950s Britain who is investigating a woman’s claim of an immaculate conception finds herself becoming personally entangled in the story. The Days of Afrekete, by Asali Solomon. A woman throws a dinner party while awaiting her husband’s arrest on corruption charges and contemplating their marriage, her past, and whether she wants the life she’s found herself in. The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. Told in the first person plural, these are the stories of a group of Japanese women who came to America as brides after World War I. Short and powerful. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Told from the perspective of an “artificial friend” — a highly intelligent robot — who’s selected as the companion for an ill teenager. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. A woman finds a library where each book lets her enter a life she would have had if she’d made different choices along the way. The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave. A woman’s husband disappears under mysterious circumstances, leaving her alone with her stepdaughter and a series of emerging clues that he wasn’t who he said he was. Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn. An island’s totalitarian government bans the use of more and more letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial to the town’s namesake. 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