The Bossy Bookworm
My Very Favorite Bossy 2022 Reads
My very favorite reads this year!
I post my favorite reads each month, and I was having such a great reading year, in late spring I posted My Favorite Reads of the Year So Far. (Three books from that list made it to my final Favorites list here.)
I read so many fantastic books this year, I was considering another 29 titles for this Bossy Best of 2022 list (including I'm Glad My Mom Died, Carrie Soto Is Back, Lessons in Chemistry, Sparks Like Stars, Horse, and others).
If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear what you think!
What were some of your favorite reads of the year? Let's do some Bossy book talking!
01 In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom
Amy Bloom writes with brutal honesty about her heartbreak and her determination to support her husband Brian Ameche's desire to end his life on his own terms.
In her memoir In Love, author Amy Bloom shares the story of an impossible situation: how she faced the pending loss of her husband Brian Ameche, first mentally and then physically, to Alzheimer's disease.
Ameche begins showing cognitive loss, and when a diagnosis is established of Alzheimer's disease, he considers the cases of those he has known who suffered for many years from the disease--and their caregivers alongside them. He becomes determined to participate in an assisted suicide program while he is still showing enough cognition to enter into the agreement.
Bloom details the reasoning behind his decision and explores the importance to him of taking an active role in determining the time and place and conditions of his death. She considers how she can best support his wishes, even as doing so will take him away from her.
Bloom is also the author of the wonderful White Houses and other books.
I listed other heartbreaking and beautiful memoirs about facing death and loss in the Greedy Reading List Six Powerful Memoirs about Facing Mortality, and Kate Bowler's No Cure for Being Human is another gorgeous book about facing mortality that also appears on this list.
For my full review, check out In Love.
02 Wingwalkers by Taylor Brown
Brown's signature immersive details and wonderfully imagined, rich characters bring Depression-era scenes to life against an irresistible backdrop of swooping, soaring, daring aviation in Wingwalkers.
What is it about aviation stories and my being so in love with them?
In Taylor Brown's recently published historical fiction novel Wingwalkers, Zeno, a former World War I ace pilot, and Della, his daring wingwalking wife, travel Depression-era America, wowing audiences and inspiring hope in a dark, sober time.
Zeno and Della are vagabonds, putting on shows for small bills and change, scrambling to make enough to fuel their plane, feed their dog, and to hopefully have enough left over to eat meager meals, just enough to keep them going. They're daring, sometimes haunted, broken, in love, and irresistible to read about.
Wingwalkers swoops and soars yet grounds the reader in wonderfully imagined (and researched) details that bring the story to life. I loved this book!
Taylor is also the author of Gods of Howl Mountain, a book I loved and gave five stars, Pride of Eden (a book still on my to-read list that looks wonderful), and Fallen Land, a title I loved and included in the Greedy Reading List Six Great Historical Fiction Stories about the Civil War. (If you’re not on the Taylor Brown train yet, may I strongly suggest you join me?)
Click here for my full review of Wingwalkers.
03 The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
Cronin's debut novel explores mortality, vulnerability, surprising moments of joy and reflection, an irresistible young protagonist, and a wonderful array of friends who are like family.
Seventeen-year-old Lenni Pettersson lives in the terminal ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Her life expectancy isn't long, but Lenni still has a lot she wants to do and be.
In the hospital's arts and crafts class, she meets 83-year-old Margot, a spirited, rebellious new friend. Collectively they've been around 100 years, but this just doesn't feel like enough, and they each want to leave their mark on the world.
With the help of Father Arthur, the hospital chaplain, and a kind palliative care nurse, the friends make a plan to create one hundred paintings, one to represent each of their years of life. This goal adds structure to the novel, but the story is far richer than the characters' mission to create art.
If you're interested in books that explore mortality, you might want to check out Six Powerful Memoirs about Facing Mortality.
Another novel I loved that involves a precocious, wise, reflective, tough young protagonist is This Is All He Asks of You.
Click here for my full review of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot.
04 Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
A book about childhood friends making a video game is an unexpected, captivating setup for this wonderfully deep, epic look at creativity, tragedy, and love.
Childhood friends Sam Masur and Sadie Green are brilliant, creative collaborators and a wonderfully complementary pair since their chance meeting in childhood--and they're also (sometimes) full of love for each other.
Reunited in college, Sam and Sadie come together to try to create a masterpiece: a video game unlike any that has come before. Something immersive, something fascinating, something irresistible.
Their wild success and their devastating lows--individual and collective--test their loyalty, offer joy and unexpected stress, and push the limits of their connection.
A book about longtime friends creating a video game feels like an unusual vehicle for delivering the beauty and depth Zevin builds into each page. But Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is an epic view of a lifetime of friendship and love, tragedy, renewed faith in others, overcoming incredible hardship...and a captivating account of the making of a video game, love for other games, and the power of games to bring people together.
I just loved this book.
For my full review, check out Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
05 Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams
Williams's historical fiction mystery--based on real-life double agents in the Cambridge Spy Ring--is vividly set in Europe and Russia and was a rare five-star 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.
06 This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
Straub offers a story that plays with time, explores sentimental moments, offers do-overs, and sweeps the reader into a love-filled, hopeful heartbreaker of a tale.
On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s job, apartment, and love life are solidly okay. The only dark spot in her life is her father’s grave illness.
When she wakes up the next morning...it’s her 16th birthday again. And it isn't just that being in her teen body again shocks her, or that seeing her high school crush is jarring. It's incredible to see her healthy, vital, young dad.
I am a huuuuuuge fan of books that play with time, and Straub offers up all the best parts of a time-travel book in This Time Tomorrow.
This Time Tomorrow indulged my own personal desire for sentimentality, while also emphasizing the value of cutting to the heart of a situation without wasting time. The story offers up lots of loving moments as well as perfectly imperfect decisions and mistakes. The story is heartbreaking and lovely in its ultimate insistence that one must let go of the past.
If you like books that play with time, you might also enjoy the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories.
Click here for my full review of This Time Tomorrow.
07 No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowles
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.
08 How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying) by Cristina Fernandez
How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying) is a charming, irresistible young adult story about superheroes, villains, a crushing premed course load--and the everyday bravery involved in being vulnerable with friends and in falling in love. I adored this and am in for all future books by Fernandez.
Columbia premed undergrad Astrid is dating Max Martin, a sweet, nerdy boy she knew back in high school.
Astrid is always on time. And her sense of what it's possible to achieve within windows of time is practically her superpower.
On the other hand, Max is always crashing in late for their dates and dashing off abruptly in the middle of their time together. And it seems like trouble gravitates to him--he's always in the middle of some kind of Life-and-Death Problem.
When a supervillain breaks into Astrid's apartment to kidnap her--she has organic chemistry to study for and she really does not have time for this!--she has to face facts: It really seems undeniable that Max...is a superhero.
How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying) is a wonderfully romantic story about finding your own true self, listening to your gut, finding the strength to put yourself on the line for other people, the bravery of falling in love, and the importance of treasuring every day. Cristina Fernandez has crafted an irresistibly charming story that I absolutely adored.
For my full review, check out How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying).
09 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.
10 The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin
This World War II-set novel is a love letter to books, to looking out for others, to forming friends-like-family connections, and to continuing to put one foot in front of another with hope for the future.
The Last Bookshop in London was inspired by the true story of one of the last bookstores to survive the Blitz.
Along with her best friend Viv, whose parents want her to marry and settle down (something she has no interest in), main protagonist Grace heads to her deceased mother's old friend in London to take refuge as World War II begins to rock Europe.
The young women's wartime experiences take Viv to glamorous Harrod's, settle Grace in a dusty old bookshop, shakes their makeshift household and family, and results in unexpected joys and love among the many tragedies and dark days.
The Last Bookshop in London is never sentimental but very powerful, and I was brought to tears while listening to it. I love a World War II-set book, and I adored The Last Bookshop in London.
If you like World War II stories, you might also like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Great Stories about Brave Women During World War II.
Click here for my full review of The Last Bookshop in London.
11 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 about how even a historical fiction storytelling master like Kate Quinn could craft compelling storytelling around the potential tedium at the heart of code breaking.
Quinn 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.
12 The Humans by Matt Haig
The Humans is about mathematics, aliens, and shape shifters, but at its heart it's about a hurting family and an unimaginable, shocking, heartwarming chance at a new beginning. This was fascinating, sometimes funny, thoughtful, and lovely.
In Matt Haig's The Humans, an extraterrestrial arrives on Earth with a mission: to kill the man who has achieved a mathematical discovery considered beyond what is appropriate for humans and for the planet.
Horrified by the appearances of the humans, confused by their disgusting obsessions with wearing clothing and drinking coffee, and pitying of their limited brain capacities and lack of special powers, the visitor nevertheless assumes the appearance of Professor Andrew Martin and clumsily takes on the man's life for a time.
Through New Andrew's alien eyes we see the contradictory, beautifully messy, infuriating, wondrous aspects of the human condition.
Haig handles the complexities and challenges of the bizarre situation with heart, some wry humor, and with thoughtfulness.
The Humans is funny, strange, deep, and lovely. I loved it. Click here for my full review of The Humans.