The Best Fiction of 2022

As a long-time reader, I know one thing to be true: We often do not agree on liking the same books. 

Readers’ tastes vary widely. This was evident once again in my annual search for the top-reviewed books of the year. For fiction, I tallied 30 lists by professional book readers, including the Cook Memorial Public Library staff. I did find some consensus. Seventy-two books rose to the top from among more than 800 adult and young adult fiction titles. 

Some of my favorite books were among the best, including Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, and Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart. Did any of your favorites make it? This list reminds me that there are so many great books I need to read, including Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.

If you are looking for even more great books beyond this list, come to the library to pick up the booklet featuring our Staff Fiction Favorites of 2022, (also posted on our website) with 164 titles of all genres. There is something for every reader. Start placing your holds, and get ready for a great winter of cozying up with books. You also can view the booklets on our website.

I’ve included links to our catalog so you can read descriptions and place holds.

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18 Mentions:

THE CANDY HOUSE by Pultizer-Prize winner Jennifer Egan (Literary Fiction). Remember how I said readers can’t agree on books? This was one of the top reviewed books of the year, and I couldn’t finish it!

TRUST by Hernan Diaz (Literary Fiction), highly recommended by staffer Sonia.

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16 Mentions:

SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Emily St. John Mandel (Literary Fiction), recommended by staffers Jenn, Jean and Jo.

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14 Mentions:

DEMON COPPERHEAD by Barbara Kingsolver (Literary Fiction), recommended by Andrea, Marianne and Ellen J. Read Andrea’s review on our blog, Shelf Life.

TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW by Gabrielle Zevin, recommended by Erica, Jenn Marianne, Jo and Joe.

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13 Mentions:

OUR MISSING HEARTS by Celeste Ng (Dystopian), recommended by Sonia and Joe.

THE RABBIT HUTCH by Tess Gunty (Relationship Fiction), recommended by Becky.

YOUNG MUNGO by Douglas Stuart (Literary Fiction), recommended by staffer Jo. Read her review on the library blog, Shelf Life.

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12 Mentions:

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS by Jessamine Chan (Dystopian Fiction), recommended by Becky, Jenn and Jean.

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11 Mentions:

THE FURROWS by Namwali Serpell (Literary Fiction).

LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo,  Jenny B., Marianne, Jean and Ellen J. Read Jo’s review on our library blog, Shelf Life.

OLGA DIES DREAMING by Xochitl Gonzalez (Relationship Fiction), recommended by Andrea, Marianne, Jo, Becky, Brooke and Jean. Read Andrea’s review on our library blog, Shelf Life.

VLADAMIR by Julia May Jonas (Relationship Fiction).

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10 Mentions:

BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry (Romance), recommended by Karen, Marianne, Andrea, Jean and Jo.

EITHER/OR by Elif Batuman (Literary Fiction).

IF I SURVIVE YOU by Jonathan Escoffery (Short Stories).

THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT by Maggie O’Farrell (Historical Fiction), recommended by Marianne and Jean.

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9 Mentions:

AFTERLIVES by Abdulrazak Gurnah (Historical Fiction).

THE BOOK OF GOOSE by Yiyun Li (Historical Fiction), recommended by Sarah.

THE BOOKS OF JACOB by Olga Tokarczuk (Historical Fiction).

LESSONS by Ian McEwan (Literary Fiction).

LIBERATION DAY by George Saunders (Short Stories)

LUCY BY THE SEA by Elizabeth Strout (Literary Fiction), recommended by Jo.

NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC by Kevin Wilson (Relationship Fiction), recommended by Jo, Jean and Erica.

THE PASSENGER by Cormac McCarthy (Psychological Fiction).

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8 Mentions:

ALL MY RAGE by Sabaa Tahir (Young Adult), recommended by Jean.

ALL THIS COULD BE DIFFERENT by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Contemporary Fiction).

BABEL by R.F. Kuang (Fantasy), recommended by Andrea.

DINOSAURS by Lydia Millet (Literary Fiction), recommended by Jo

THE HERO OF THIS BOOK by Elizabeth McCracken (Literary Fiction), recommended by Jo.

KILLERS OF A CERTAIN AGE by Deanna Raybourn (Crime Fiction), recommended by staffers Erica, Becky, Jenn and Jo. Read Erica’s review on our blog, Shelf Life.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING REZ: STORIES by Morgan Talty (Horror).

NIGHTCRAWLING by Leila Mottley (Literary Fiction), recommended by Ellen J.

THE SWIMMERS by Julie Otsuka ( Literary Fiction), recommended by Becky.

THIS TIME TOMORROW by Emma Straub (Relationship Fiction), recommended by Marianne, Jo, Jean and Ellen J.

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7 Mentions:

BLACK CAKE by Charmaine Wilkerson (Family Saga), recommended by Jo, Marianne, Becky and Dorota. Read Jo’s review on the library blog, Shelf Life.

BLISS MONTAGE by Ling Ma (Short Stories).

THE HACIENDA by Isabel Canas (Horror).

HOW HIGH WE GO IN THE DARK by Sequoia Nagamatsu (Fantasy).

TAKE MY HAND by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Historical Fiction), recommended by Andrea, Natalie and Jo.

TO PARADIDSE by Hanya Yanagihara (Dystopian Fiction).

THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD by Tiffany D. Jackson (Young Adult).

YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY by Akwaeke Emezi (Romance).

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6 Mentions:

CALLING FOR A BLANKET DANCE by Oscar Hokeah (Literary Fiction), recommended by Jo.

GLORY by NoViolet Bulawayo (Historical Fiction).

HOW NOT TO DROWN IN A GLASS OF WATER by Angie Cruz (Contemporary Fiction).

I MUST BETRAY YOU by Ruta Sepetys (Young Adult).

SCATTERED ALL OVER THE EARTH by Yoko Tawada (Science Fiction).

TRUE BIZ by Sara Novic, recommended by Andrea, Erica and Becky. Read Andrea’s review on our library blog, Shelf Life.

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5 Mentions:

CHECKOUT 19 by Claire Louise-Bennett (Contemporary Fiction).

COMPANION PIECE by Ali Smith (Contemporary Fiction).

THE DAUGHTER OF DR. MOREAU by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Horror), recommended by Mark and Marianne.

DR. NO by Percival Everett (Thriller).

FAIRY TALE by Stephen King (Fantasy), recommended by Sonia.

FELLOWSHIP POINT by Alice Elliott Dark (Relationship Fiction), recommended by Andrea, Jo, Jenn and Becky. Read Andrea’s review on the library blog, Shelf Life.

FIONA AND JANE by Jean Chen Ho (Short Stories).

FOUR TREASURES OF THE SKY by Jenny Tinghui Zhang (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo. Read her review on our blog, Shelf Life.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER by Casey McQuiston (Young Adult).

JOAN IS OKAY by Weike Wang (Literary Fiction), recommended by Jean.

THE LAST WHITE MAN by Mohsin Hamid (Magical Realism), recommended by Becky, Natalie, Marianne and Jo.

LESS IS LOST by Andrew Sean Greer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Less. Recommended byNate.

LESSER KNOWN MONSTERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY by Kim Fu (Short Stories).

THE MAID by Nita Prose (Suspense), recommended by Erica, Becky, Marianne, Dorota and Jean. Read Erica’s review on the library blog, Shelf Life

MEMPHIS by Tara M. Stringfellow (Family Saga), recommended by Marianne, Becky and Jo.

NOBODY GETS OUT ALIVE by Leigh Newman (Short Stories).

OUR CROOKED HEARTS by Melissa Albert (Young Adult), recommended by Mark.

SHRINES OF GAIETY by Kate Atkinson (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo and Jenn.

SIGNAL FIRES by Dani Shapiro (Relationship Fiction), recommended by Jean.

SWEET, SOFT, PLENTY RHYTHM by Laura Warrell (Literary Fiction).

TRACY FLICK CAN’T WIN by Tom Perrotta (Contemporary Fiction), recommended by Dorota and Natalie.

WHEN WONEN WERE DRAGONS by Kelly Barnhill (Fantasy).

YONDER by Jabari Asim (Historical Fiction).

Sources: Amazon, American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal Long List, Barnes & Noble, BookListBookPage, Book Riot, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Tribune, Cook Memorial Public Library Staff Favorites, EW (Entertainment Weely), Goodreads, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Kirkus, Library Journal, Literary Hub, Los Angeles Times, New York Public Library, New York Times, New Yorker, NPR, Oprah, Publishers Weekly, Real Simple, School Library Journal, Time, USA Today, Vogue, Vulture, Washington Post. 

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