During the past year, I challenged myself to read a book a week. It may have seemed challenging — considering how I transitioned high school to college and finished my Eagle Scout project. But I didn’t end up reading 52 books; I read 63 books.
If you started a new year’s resolution of reading, you came to the right place. Throughout this article, I will break down my top ten favorite books. Considering this is a top ten list, I had to make some difficult decisions and leave lots of incredible titles off the list. Therefore, here are some honorable mentions:
“American Born Chinese” by Gene Luen Yang really grew on me over time with its themes of identity. It also has the best plot twist I have ever seen in fiction. (Change my mind.)
Kwame Alexander’s sports novels (“The Crossover,” “Booked,” and “Rebound”) were all complex and deeply moving. I’m excited to read his other works.
Nikki Grimes’ memoir in verse, “Ordinary Hazards,” tells the story of her painful childhood experiences. Despite the book’s heavy content, it was ultimately healing — and a must read.
Alright, without further ado, here are my top ten books of 2022 (in no particular order).
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
Delia Owens took the literary world by storm with Crawdads and for good reason. Taking place during the 1950s–1960s, the book tells the story of Kya through her abandonment, school days, love life and judgment. All of these characters and settings are described with expert-level writing that seemingly walks the balance between simplicity and elegance. Despite the controversy with Owens, Crawdads still remains a modern classic.
“Starfish” by Lisa Fipps
Winning a Printz Honor in 2022, “Starfish” follows Ellie as she navigates middle school and her bullies. Putting the book in verse was a wise choice because it allowed the audience to connect with her introspective feelings and fears. That — with the excellent message of accepting yourself — makes “Starfish” a vital read. Fipps crafted a gorgeous, warm hug of a verse novel.
“Heartstopper” (books 1-4) by Alice Oseman
Yeah, chances are you’ve heard how amazing “Heartstopper” is. And it is. Each character and line feels realistic and honest, building towards some emotional gut punches. However these moments are balanced out with some joyful moments. Nick and Charlie are characters that will certainly live in the hearts of many generations of readers to come.
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
A common pitfall most self-help titles fall into is struggling to expand on their concept once the concept is already explained. I never felt like “Atomic Habits” fell into this issue. It presented and expanded the complex concept of habits in simple, easy to understand chapters without it feeling rushed or boring. On top of that, the book contains a guide to put those concepts into action — making it one of the best self-help books I’ve ever read.
“Freestyle” by Gale Galligan
“Freestyle” is my biggest surprise this year. The graphic novel managed to align with many of my personal preferences: a coming-of-age story with complex characters and colorful art. While tackling some mild topics, “Freestyle” managed to be a fun and engaging read throughout.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
“The Hate U Give” was the first book I read this year, and I could not stop thinking about it throughout 2022. Mainly because of the parallels this had to the death of George Floyd. On top of that, the novel contains great writing, strong character development and an expertly impactful story that could stand the test of time for years to come.
“The Girl and the Goddess” by Nikita Gill
I don’t want to say too much about this one because it’s best to go in blind. Just know that this one is phenomenal.
“Dragon Hoops” by Gene Luen Yang
While “American Born Chinese” is a work of fiction, “Dragon Hoops” is part memoir and part historical fiction. Yang is writing about his high school’s basketball team. Soon what he’s experiencing will not only change the players, but also Yang himself. In fact, I felt changed because I almost cried during the end.
“Crank” by Ellen Hopkins
This book has (yet again) important themes and messages. This time it’s about crank. But what really caught my attention is how Hopkins used the verse novel format. She doesn’t use poetry as a crutch; she wields it like a weapon. If you haven’t read one of her books, you owe it to yourself to read one of them.
“Scythe” by Neal Shusterman
If I ranked all of these books numerically, “Scythe” would easily be #1. “Scythe” takes place in a future with no hunger, no disease, no war and no misery. Since no one can die through these normal causes, scythes are tasked to kill to prevent the world from becoming overpopulated. This led to one of the most thrilling and thought provoking books of the year. And my personal favorite.
Billy Wikol is a first year English major. WW993420@wcupa.edu