My Favorite Reads of the Year So Far
Bossy Bookworm's Very Favorite Books of 2022..So Far!
I love a favorites list--check out my favorites lists, posted at the end of each month and year and sometimes at the end of each season! The end of April seemed like a great time to take stock in a Greedy Reading List of my favorites so far this year!
If you've read these or if you give any of these a go, please let me know what you think!
I've already read three books in May that I've loved (Wingwalkers by Taylor Brown, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel, and Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett), so stay tuned for more Bossy Favorites lists!
You might also like the books on my monthly Greedy Reading List roundups so far this year:
01 The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarer #1) by Becky Chambers
Chambers's science fiction is full of heart, heartbreak, and hope--set against a fascinating backdrop of space travel and interspecies relations.
In The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, the first science fiction title in Becky Chambers's Wayfarers series, young Rosemary feels lucky to have landed the job of clerk for the quirky, ragtag, but welcoming crew of the Wayfarer ship.
Just as she's adjusting to life on board, the crew gets a lucrative opportunity: to tunnel wormholes through space to a distant planet. But things quickly take a turn as pirates and other dangers threaten the friends-like-family on the Wayfarer. They each have reasons to mistrust other creatures, but they have to trust and rely on each other more than ever before in order to survive.
Chambers's story is science fiction that's full of heart, heartbreak, and hope. The book feels much more focused on the characters--with a backdrop of space travel and otherworldly creatures--than on exploration or adventure. Much of the story is about acceptance and openness and finding ways to get along. Interspecies relations are prickly, comfortable, romantic, puzzling, or all of the above.
I just adored this. Click here for my full review of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
02 No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowler
Touching, honest, raw, funny, and full of gritty reflections about life and faith, this was a read that I absolutely adored and gave five Bossy stars.
Reading memoirs centered around cancer is not always a go for me, but this book was special. Divinity professor Kate Bowler offers meaningful insight, gritty truth-telling, and wry humor as she shares her experiences surrounding facing stage 4 colon cancer.
I finished No Cure for Being Human in one evening, tabbed many, many passages, immediately bought my own copy, re-tabbed everything, and would have been perfectly willing to read the book again in its entirety right away.
So many moments struck me, surprised me, or touched me as I read this lovely work, including Bowler's exploration of how our lives are largely shaped by choices out of our control and her reckoning with the way in which she considers her body after cancer treatment ("Who would fault a body that has survived so much and asked for so little?").
No Cure for Being Human is beautiful, funny, heartwarming, practical, and Kate Bowler is so wise and wonderful, I hugged this book to my chest when I finished reading it.
For my full review, check out No Cure for Being Human.
03 The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
Bryson's examination of the human body, its processes, its wonders, and its limitations is surprising, illuminating, and wonderful.
The Body: A Guide for Occupants is made up of fascinating, funny, odd, and often unexpected information about the complicated corporeal shell we each inhabit.
“We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted.”
With his signature wit and curiosity, Bryson delves into everything you didn't know that you didn't know about the body (and, I'm glad to say, he narrates the audiobook edition of the book).
I'm willing to accompany Bill Bryson anywhere he wants to take me, and an adventure through body systems, grievous injuries, and our various, wondrous healing processes is no exception. Bryson considers the body's systems, outside positive and detrimental influences upon the body, and disease and the process of death. He inspires wonder, shares knowledge, and offers sometimes shocking factoids about our bodies and how they work.
For my full review of The Body: A Guide for Occupants, please click here.
04 Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Andy Weir offers the fascinating story of a desperate space mission, creative innovation, and enduring optimism, with an enormous amount of heart that surprised me.
Ryland Grace wakes up as the sole survivor of a last-chance effort to save Earth and its inhabitants.
He's millions of miles from Earth, and he's got two dead crewmates, a chatty AI robot caregiver, a lot of complicated equipment, and a mysterious mission whose purpose and execution he'll have to unravel if he's to possibly survive--much less save humanity.
Weir provides Grace with unexpected company, fascinating collaboration, fantastic interpersonal relationships (Rocky!), incredible innovation, and wonderfully big-hearted moments. The present-day story alternates with peeks back in time to life before this space mission, which show Grace as an interestingly faulted but incredibly valuable team member on the project of a lifetime.
As in his book The Martian, significant page time in Weir's Project Hail Mary is spent on creative problem-solving, particularly scientific experimentation and high-stakes trial and error, and while it slowed the pace of the story, it felt warranted--and I was hooked by all of it.
For my full review, check out Project Hail Mary.
05 Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi
This peek into a childhood in Kabul and a lifetime of searching and yearning is luminous and vivid in Hashimi's hands.
Young Sitara is living a comfortable life in Kabul in 1978. Her father has a prominent position in the government, and the family has plenty of love and laughter.
But when the military soldiers she's always known turn against those in charge, the men stop protecting her family and help enact a bloody massacre that sweeps up much of the current government administration and their families.
Sparks Like Stars follows Sitara through unlikely alliances, a desperate plan to escape her fiery homeland, and a life with twists and turns that ultimately lead her back to the beginning of it all.
Hashimi's storytelling is luminous. She sets the scene in Kabul with the vivid sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the past that reemerge in Sitara's memories and her subconscious, and she explores Sitara's complicated, ongoing, conflicting feelings of survivor's guilt.
For my full review, check out Sparks Like Stars.
06 Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (As Told to Me) Story by Bess Kalb
This is an irresistible tribute to Kalb's funny, opinionated, fiercely loving grandmother--a granddaughter's best friend and a wise and formidable character.
I listened to Bess Kalb's irresistible love letter to her late grandmother, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me. The audiobook was wonderful and read by Kalb.
The author saved every one of her grandmother's voicemails, and here she uses them--along with emails, letters, vividly recalled conversations, and her grandma Bobby's imagined thoughts from beyond the grave--to construct a picture of a formidable, tough-love, fiercely protective matriarch in Bobby Bell.
This is a heartwarming, funny, poignant, sassy tribute to a life fully lived and to a determination love freely, deliberately, and unwaveringly. It made me laugh out loud and brought me to tears. I just adored this gem.
Click here for my full review of Nobody Will Tell You This But Me.
07 Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams
Williams's historical fiction mystery--which is based on real-life double agents in the Cambridge Spy Ring--is vividly set in Europe and Russia and was a rare five-star-rated read for me.
In Beatriz Williams's historical fiction, Our Woman in Moscow, it's 1948, and Iris Digby, her American diplomat husband Sasha, and their two children have disappeared overnight. Those who knew and worked with them are shocked. Were the Digbys abducted by Soviet agents...or did they make their way by choice behind the Iron Curtain with a suitcase of American secrets to trade?
I loved this. Every heart-stopping moment; every exquisite detail; the characters' growth, emotional distance, and unforeseen connections to each other; the trick of teasing out what was actually happening; the characterization; the machinations--all of it.
I loved Williams's immersive story so much, I was in for all of Our Woman in Moscow's elements: Russia, family, spies, crossing/double-crossing, finding common ground, bravery, and illogical and irresistible love.
For my full review, check out Our Woman in Moscow.
08 You Can't Be Serious by Kal Penn
Penn's thoughtful memoir explores serious issues yet also made me laugh out loud. You Can't Be Serious is both thoughtful and playful, and I loved the audiobook.
Kal Penn's smart, fun You Can't Be Serious explores his early struggles to make it in Hollywood as he straddles humorous roles and dramatic opportunities; attempts to deflect racism from casting heads and writers; and digs in to try to be one of what he hopes will be an ever-increasing number of diverse faces on television and movie screens.
He takes the reader through his discovery of his passion for acting, his immigrant parents' early, practical resistance (they urge him, "at least get a real estate license"), the various early road bumps he encountered, and his dogged determination--which was admittedly shaken after landing very few and consistently stereotypical roles.
Penn pulls his memoir into another gear when he adds the fascinating layer of accidental political activism that becomes a passion and, ultimately, a sometimes career, one for which he takes a sabbatical from his steady acting job at the time, his role on House.
I laughed out loud multiple times; Kal is funny without trying too hard, and his tone is accessible even as he takes the reader deep into worlds most won't have experience with, Hollywood and the White House.
Click here for my full review of You Can't Be Serious.
09 The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
Kate Quinn makes the urgency of World War II code breaking come alive through the stories of three young women and their interconnected destinies in The Rose Code.
The Rose Code is a wonderfully spun historical fiction story of three very different women who answer the wartime call to England's top-secret Bletchley Park in order to break the military codes of the Axis powers.
I love a World War II story about strong women making a difference, but I admit that I was curious as to how even a historical fiction storytelling master like Kate Quinn could craft compelling storytelling around the potential tedium at the heart of code breaking.
But as usual, Quinn delivers. She offers plenty of interpersonal conflict, romance, suspected double-crossing, and details of life within both timelines, and in her hands, the descriptions of code-breaking mechanisms and the detailed, complicated, elusive process of figuring out messages were captivating.
For my full review, check out The Rose Code.