Here we go again with our 5(ish) favorite reads of 2022. We try very hard to keep to 5, but it’s not always possible. So, there may be 5 or 6, an A and a B list, memorable reads or just plain marvelous books. We hope you enjoy it and feel inspired to read – and play! – some more.


Monogamy, by Sue Miller
Miller can create such delicate portraits of people, in every stage of life.
Monogamy describes a marriage, its familiarities and its undiscovered secrets. Did Annie really know her husband Graham? Was it all a charade? Or is it the fact that the secrets were such a shock to her that makes her doubt her entire marriage? Food for thought!

Mercy, by Jussi Adler-Olsen
(a.k.a. The Keeper of Lost Causes) Carl Morck is working on cold cases and tackles the disappearance of a politician, who went missing five years ago. He attempts to find her, while simultaneously dealing with a shootout that targeted him and some colleagues and remained unresolved for a long time. This Department Q novel keeps you on the edge of your seat!

Tokyo Express, by Matsumoto
A highly atmospheric classic crime novel, in which Inspector Torigai peels back layer after layer of the intrigue surrounding a couple found dead on the beach. Add to this his charming teamwork with Inspector Mihara and you have a must-read in your hands!

London Train, by Tessa Hadley
Tessa Hadley is a recent discovery of mine, and I really love and enjoy her descriptions of everyday life and relationships. With a great eye for daily interactions, psychological processes and family life, I am hooked!

Aurora, by David Koepp
An eerily plausible scenario plays out in Aurora: due to a solar storm, all power has been knocked out. In drastically changed circumstances, Aubrey Wheeler is trying to get by, day-by-day, week-by-week, hoping her life will be restored to normalcy. This is a great book to make you count your blessings and think about what you might do in such a crisis.


All About Love, by Bell Hooks
All About Love is definitely the most life-changing book I read this year. I believe everyone should read it, and it is definitely the best present I can think of!

The Book of Form and Emptiness, by Ruth Ozeki
This book is extremely wholesome and also funny. It follows a young boy and his mum in a heart-warming adventure that teaches the reader about creativity, grief and the beauty of reading.

One Day I Will Write About This Place, by Binyavanga Wainaina
If I had to choose one book as my favorite, it would definitely be this one. This memoir narrates the childhood of Binyavanga Wainaina. This year I reread it and, as always, it makes me love life a little bit more and look in awe at everything that surrounds me.

Glory, by NoViolet Bulawayo
NoViolet Bulawayo has a brilliant mind and you can clearly see that in this witty and sarcastic Zimbabwean Animal Farm. Through animals, the author narrates Zimbabwe’s uprising. A perfect book for someone who enjoys political science but also a little bit of exciting fiction.

My Heart, by Corinna Luyken
This is one of the best children’s books I have ever read. Not only are the illustrations beautiful, but the rhymes and the message behind them are also extremely moving.


Our Share of Night, by Mariana Enriquez
I’ve only recently finished this doorstopper of a book and am still recovering. I was called to it by the cover, which I find both compelling and disconcerting, and the entire book is like that. It’s about cults of darkness, horrific mutilation, child enslavement, disappearances – and also about deep love, trying to live with trauma, finding normality in madness. The author is Argentinian, and the whole book breathes the history of that country, the turmoil of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the disappearances and torture. It’s not a perfect story, but I was compelled to read it and I will be thinking of many of its images for a long time to come.

The Twyford Code, by Janice Hallett
This has to be the most satisfying book I read all year! A wonderful riddle wrapped in a mystery, etc. The reader is presented with audio files converted into text that have been sent to a professor who might be able to help with the story within, concerning a book full of clues and the disappearance of a teacher several decades before. It takes a while to get going, and to understand some audio-text-to-written-word transitions, but it’s a lot of fun to follow the clues. And those last 50 pages, oh my! Everything is revealed so beautifully! Hallett’s first book The Appeal is also a really fun read.

The Murderbot books (series starts with All Systems Red), by Martha Wells
Murderbot is, well, just that: a robot-human entity, made from machine parts and fleshy bits to either provide armored security or be soldiers for hire, and meant to be controlled by the corporation that owns them through a governor module. Which Murderbot hacked, because their job is boring and they’d rather be watching convoluted intergalactic soap operas instead. In private. Alas, no such luck, of course, and Murderbot keeps having to save stupid humans who get into dumb-ass, life-threatening scrapes. Their dry, unimpressed tone is a lot of fun, the action scenes are intense, and despite all their resistance, Murderbot can’t help but discover that not all humans are as dumb as at first presumed.

The Unhoneymooners, by Christina Lauren
This book was a perfect case of right place and right time. I needed a fun read, and this had me in absolute stitches. The banter between main characters Olive and Ethan was pitch perfect, and both showed such an awesome ability to NOT overreact. The story is cute, the setting is mostly on tropical Maui, and I loved that it wasn’t steamy. Wonderful all around!

This year’s crop of Ursula K. Le Guin books:
The Word for World is Forest
Worlds of Exile and Illusion
The Other Wind
I just love everything this woman writes. I love her simple style that evokes whole worlds, I love her considered views from many different sides, I love her flawed and somewhat melancholy characters. I’ve made it my life’s mission to read everything published by her; I’m now about 11 books in and not a single one has been a disappointment yet.

Honorable mentions, too:
The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O’Farrell. No one can put me right in the middle of a scene like she can.
The Space Between Worlds, by Micaiah Johnson. Mad Max-y dystopian parallel worlds thriller.
This One Sky Day, by Leone Ross. Magical realism, lush locale, sumptuous characters.
Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu. Sharp social insight in a creative format.
Trust, by Hernan Diaz. Multi-layered story about the 1929 crash that makes finance fascinating.


The Story of More, by Hope Jahren
How we got to climate change and where to go from here.
Growing up in the US countryside, Hope Jahren knows the impact agriculture has on our climate system. As a teacher, she taught about the influence agriculture and industry have on the climate change we’re living in, and her catchy way of telling this story makes it a very interesting read.

Endless Forms, by Seirian Sumner
(a.k.a. The Enigma of Wasps) Like Seirian Sumner, I’m also fond of wasps. We give them syrup in September and they do us no harm. In this book, she gives us a lot of information on their undiscovered wonders.

The Sea & Civilization, by Lincoln Paine
This is a history book with a focus on oceans and seas. The part about the first human navigators is very interesting, even though some chapters focus too much on ships for my taste. But if you’re into ships and the sea, this book will interest you.

Drachtelijke Lichtheid [Dreadful Lightness], by Diewertje Blok
Diewertje Blok is a well-known presenter on Dutch television. When looking among her mother’s things in the attic, she found a diary. In it, her then-teenage Jewish mother tells her own history before and during World War II. In Dutch, not yet translated into English.

The Science of Yoga, by I.I. Taimni
While I didn’t finish it yet, this is a book you can only read very slowly and carefully—and re-read for the rest of your life. Through multiple reads you can slowly get into a different mindset where the world is waiting for more love and peace for all.

And I also read the book De Wespen, by Tjeerd van de Heide. Tjeerd was an old colleague who passed away a couple of years back. In memoriam.

Steven’s Game Top 5 (in random order)

(Unfortunately, most of the games we sell are not listed on our website, so please call us or drop by to reserve your copy.)

Pandemic Legacy – Season 1
This is the much-loved game that led some ABC colleagues to form a game group a few years back. You try to keep the world from succumbing to various viruses, while putting stickers on the game board and ripping up cards, personalizing your experience. The game changes a little each time you play it over somewhere between 12 to 24 games, with some big twists along the way.

Meadow is a very pretty and laid-back game that simulates a refreshing walk through nature. You build a tableau of cards in front of you, showing all the animals you spotted along the way, slowly building up to bigger cards with larger amounts of points. A similar combination of laid-back puzzling and nature can be found in Cascadia, in which you try to combine animals and environments into point-scoring patterns.

Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire
There are two ‘Brass’ games, both requiring a fair amount of brainpower from players. You try to build a network during the Industrial Age, setting up transport routes and gaining goods to sell. If you set up your routes and resources properly, other players will take advantage of them, scoring you points. It is a very pleasing production, drawing you into its gritty theme. Not a boardgame for beginners, however.

Nemesis Lockdown
Nemesis Lockdown takes a well-known sci-fi-horror scenario along the lines of films like Alien and Event Horizon and presents it as a sprawling and cinematic boardgame. The game is heavy on rules and not for the faint of heart, as you can find yourself eliminated early on if you stumble into the wrong alien at the wrong time. But few games offer a stronger sense of tension and atmosphere.

Dune Imperium
In Dune Imperium, you are competing as one of the ‘Houses’ from the famous series of books by Frank Herbert, trying to come out on top. The game offers multiple ways of reaching the finish line before your opponents, racing to 10 points. You place your ‘workers’ on the board, gaining the benefits of the location you use them at and build up a deck of cards to form and optimally execute your strategy.


Many, many thanks to the following authors – in alphabetical order – for writing amazing stuff that entertained me in 2022.

Jason Dean
Tracer (Korso #1)
Sanctum (Korso #2)
Moviesque thrillers for fans of flawed mavericks and knife-edge action. Now reading his 2012 debut The Wrong Man (James Bishop #1).

Katrine Engberg
The Tenant (Kørner and Werner #1) = 2020 translation of the 2016 debut
The Butterfly House (Kørner and Werner #3)
The Harbour (Kørner and Werner #4)
Clever Nordic noirs with an interesting investigative team tackling red herrings and untangling the truth. Probably very good translations from Danish by Tara Chace, as the prose flows perfectly. Waiting impatiently for #2 to be translated and for #5 The Sanctuary to be released in February 2023.

Greg Hurwitz
Dark Horse (Orphan X #7)
Just. So. Good. Maybe my favorite Evan Smoak novel so far, involving a Mexican crime kingpin caught up in a Shakespearean tragedy. See reviews on Hurwitz’s work by my colleague Martijn and myself from previous years.
After this, I finished the series by reading the first two novels that I had skipped to this point:
Orphan X (Orphan X #1)
The Nowhere Man (Orphan X #2)
All I can hope for now is a Josephine “Joey” Morales & Candy “Orphan V” McClure spin-off series…

Olivia Kiernan
Too Close to Breathe (Frankie Sheehan #1)
Atmospheric and brutally gritty Irish police procedural with a damaged central character.
This promising 2018 debut hastened me into the remainder:
The Killer in Me (Frankie Sheehan, #2)
If Looks Could Kill (Frankie Sheehan, #3)

Guy Morpuss
Five Minds
2021 debut. An unusual sci-fi whodunnit about five minds sharing a single body, each living for four hours at a time. How do you identify and catch a killer when you share their body…?


The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Every, by Dave Eggers

Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard

To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara


Jew-Ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch, by Jake Cohen

The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon

American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins

With the End in Mind: How to Live and Die Well, by Kathryn Mannix

Girl with a Pearl holograph (not a book but a really cool holograph with a winking girl with a pearl; available at ABC!)


This is my top 5 list of 2022, in random order, because how can you rate quality, right?

Gathering Moss, by Robin Wal Kimmerer
A book about moss, can that be exciting? Yes! Since reading this book, walking in a forest or wherever else you can find mosses I’m more focused to look for them, check them out, and marvel at the complicated ecosystem that’s created by these tiny “plants.” Well-written, very interesting, filled with fun facts, personal observations, and, of course, an urgent warning that we should stop messing up our planet.

That message can also be found in:
The Brilliant Abyss, by Helen Scales
This one is even more packed with all kinds of nerdy info about the almost alien lifeforms in the deep seas. It is fascinating to read about what lives down there, and what’s been living there millions – and even billions – of years longer than the already strange creatures that crawl on the surface of this planet. And inevitably in a book about nature/biology/life on earth these days, almost half of this book is about how we are endangering all that beautiful life….

More creatures, this time the smaller ones, can be found in:
Crawly Creatures, by Hans Mulder, Jan de Hond and Eric Jorink
Crawly Creatures is a companion book to the exhibition in the Rijksmuseum, Onderkruipsels. (I’ve read the Dutch original, but we have the English translation in our store!) The expo and the book tell the story of our changing views of “god’s lesser creatures,” the insects, snakes, worms and such, that first had negative, even evil, connotations, but later were seen as proof of god’s magnificence, as beautiful, and, with the help of new instruments and ideas, were partly at the basis of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment. With beautiful illustrations, the essays in this (rather oversized) book tell fascinating stories about insects, religion, colonialism and scientific history, and of course about the history of art as well.

Papyrus, by Irene Vallejo, is something completely different, but also very interesting, and beautifully written.
This one I also read in Dutch, but the English translation just came out. The Dutch subtitle is a little vaguer than the English one: “The History of the World in Books” vs. “The Invention of Books in the Ancient World,” so I was a bit surprised that halfway through this book, 250 pages in, we were still with Alexander the Great…
But the story of the invention of writing, and especially of books (in their earliest forms), is more complicated than I thought and more world-changing than I could imagine. The cultural implications of the invention of the written word were felt throughout the ancient civilizations, and hopefully books will be able to keep that power.

I’ll close off this list with a fiction title, because although this list seems to imply that I don’t, I do read fiction as well.
Martin Michael Driessen is, I believe, one of the best unknown writers in the Netherlands. Even winning prizes didn’t make him more well known. But just go and read Rivers, a collection of three novellas, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This guy is a real storyteller!


Death Deserved, by Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger
During a trip to Norway, I was in much need of some Norse crime stories, and luckily I found this one in one of the bookstores I visited. I can honestly say I devoured this fast-paced and intense story.
Read through the perspective of police detective Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm, who will join forces when several Norwegian celebrities end up missing, Horst and Enger have managed to create an exciting crime story. Especially with all the necessary components for a story that will have you on the edge of your seat.
When I read crime books, I usually end up going for Nordic crime, due to its dark atmosphere, tackling of social issues and deep dives into the personal struggles of the main character(s). That’s why I was very happy to have discovered this series, which will be added to my pile of favorite books.

Love and Other Words, by Christina Lauren
This is my favorite book of Christina Lauren so far; it was incredibly heartfelt and emotional. Moving between past and present, Love and Other Words tells the story of Macy Sorensen and Elliot Petropoulos, who have shared a strong connection ever since they were children but it got lost along the way. When Macy runs into Elliot, not having seen him for years, all the feelings come rushing back and she is unsure what to do. Christina Lauren truly knows how to make characters come alive on the page and they have stayed with me for a long time.

The Other Merlin, by Robyn Schneider
The Arthurian legend but with a queer twist, what’s not to love?! The story centers on Emry Merlin, daughter of the legendary wizard Emrys, who disguises herself as her twin brother in order to serve as Prince Arthur’s right-hand wizard. Especially because she knows she is the better person for the job compared to her brother.
I had a lot of fun while reading this version of the Arthurian legend; especially knowing Emry is trying her best not to get caught by King Uther, the knights of Camelot, and especially not by Prince Arthur, who she may or may not have a crush on… Schneider has taken a lot of liberties with the legend and in doing so, she has managed to create a lighthearted and very enjoyable version of it.

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, by Ashley Herring Blake
Next to Christina Lauren’s Love and Other Words, this was another romance favorite of 2022. It’s a fun and steamy queer story about recognizing one’s true feelings for another, even when it comes with a ton of complications. I thoroughly enjoyed Blake’s writing, and it definitely made me laugh out loud at times.

The Shadow of the Gods, by Jon Gwynne
This book was an adventure from start to finish! If you’re a big fan of Norse history and mythology, this one is definitely for you. It’s filled to the brim with epic battles, magic and dangerous creatures. The story is told from the perspective of three different characters, each with their own unique tone of voice. I look forward to reading the sequel The Hunger of the Gods, as the book definitely ends with an exciting cliffhanger.

Honorable mentions:
The Faces, by Tove Ditlevsen
Temporary, by Hilary Leichter
The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, by Akwaeke Emezi


Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

Mona, by Pola Oloixarac

Butcher’s Crossing, John Williams

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway

August, by Callan Wink

Honorable mentions:
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
The Seasons Quartet, by Karl Ove Knausgaard: Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer
Let Me Tell You What I Mean, by Joan Didion
The Colony, by Audrey Magee


Normal People, by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney has this unique ability to write interwoven characters’ arcs. Normal People is no different. I started reading this book over my lunch break and did not stop. The transition to university is one small step on the way to adulthood for any young person. Rooney captivatingly writes about the complicated emotions and friendships of her two main characters.

A Brief History of Creation, by Bill Mesler
We are all tempted to ask the big questions: What is the meaning of life? Where do we come from? Are we alone in the universe? But how long have humans been asking these questions? Mesler writes eloquently about us—humans—and the questions we have been asking since the beginning.

Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton
Life is always like a book. You just have to sit down with a pen and paper to become an author. Alderton writes for young and old alike. There is never a good or bad story, there is just life. Alderton is a master of fiction interwoven with biographical stories of her own life. This is a must read for anyone in need of a good laugh, cry, or just a good book to connect to.

King of Scars series, by Leigh Bardugo
This duology, fast becoming my favorite series, has left me in need of more Bardugo books. With any multi-book series, there is a risk of not enjoying the ending, but this is not the case with King of Scars and Rule of Wolves. I fell in love with the characters from the first book and they got the ending they deserved.

Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney writes all aspects of one person in four unique individual characters. This book is comforting to read during the winter months, when going outside seems like the last thing you want to do. Rooney has a philosophy of life that sees the most beautiful aspects of the world and the people in it.

Honorable mentions:

The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson
Isaacson’s biographies always have a unique perspective on their subjects. The Code Breaker is no different. Isaacson recounts both the life and work of Dr. Jennifer Doudna, who received the Nobel prize and whose research has been vital to Covid-19 vaccines. Isaacson perfectly shows the role of women in science and the importance of recognition.
The Good Book of Human Nature, by Carel van Schaik
Where would we be if the most important books ever written did not exist? Schaik writes about the Bible, its origins and stories. For any reader of history and religion, this book presents an interesting and new perspective.
How to Find Love in a Bookshop, by Veronica Henry
This book is an excellent winter/spring read. The story takes place in a small town and is every booklover’s dream. The complex life of the city is shadowed by small-town reality. Henry writes her story like a reflection on a life well-lived.
Book Lovers, by Emily Henry
Give up the city for the small town? Never. But what about for love? Emily Henry writes a beautiful story filled with happiness, passion and small-town characters.

Perennials, by Julie Cantrell
Family is the most important thing to most people. Losing a loved one is never easy, and Cantrell captures the emotions of that loss beautifully. Life has its trying moments, but this book shows that it is never too late to find what is important in life.


All the Lovers in the Night, by Mieko Kawakami
The book is about a 30-something proofreader who’s severely depressed and an extreme introvert. You witness her inner turmoil and see her gradually opening and loosening up. You’re rooting for her and want to give her a big hug. This was my first brush with Mieko Kawakami, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt that I’d love the book from the moment I picked it up. I know, I know… cheesy. The first half was tough to get into, not going to lie. The last half consumed me. I read it on the train, bus, and even while walking home (looking up every once in a while to avoid tripping) from the bus stop. I just couldn’t put it away.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
A play-turned-into-novel by a Japanese playwright. This title has been selling like hotcakes for over a year now, but I hadn’t given it a chance despite my love for the Japanese-translated fiction genre. I’ve finally taken the plunge and am not surprised as to why it’s so popular.
A cozy, hidden gem of a café underground in a back alley in Tokyo that allows you to travel back to the past and an array of characters who each have a reason to travel back. However, there’s a catch to traveling back. You need to adhere to five very specific rules, or else…
I’ve also read the second one in the series and am going to add the third to my to-read pile for 2023.

The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa
This is the story of a professor with an 80-minute short-term memory and his housekeeper and her young son who forge an unlikely friendship and bond with the professor.
This book gets to you and tugs at your heartstrings. It emphasizes the importance of living in the now, as the professor starts fresh every 80 minutes so the present is of utmost importance. I’m a huge math-phobe, so the mention of numbers and equations initially scared me and put me off, but I felt my resistance wearing down while reading it and even gained subtle understanding of why some love the world of numbers.

The Cabinet, by Un-Su Kim
A hidden gem that’s absolutely fascinating and weird. It’s a book about a mysterious filing cabinet that Mr. Kong is appointed to protect and organize. He watches over the files about people called the Symptomers and researches them. Each chapter focuses on a different Symptomer, which makes it easy to digest. However, the second half of the book takes you into a stronger narrative thread. A few examples of Symptomers are: a man who has a ginkgo tree growing out of his finger tip; a man who keeps calling to be turned into a cat; people who, at any given moment, lose specific amounts of time; and people who sleep for months. It’s full of metaphors and social commentary on Korean society and work life. It’s a bizarre read that takes a dark turn.

Hell’s Paradise, by Yuuji Kaku
I thought I’d throw in a manga as the ABC’s manga buyer and an avid manga fan. This manga has been out since 2018, and it surprises me that it hasn’t gained so much popularity. It has recently gained traction due to the anime coming out in 2013—animated by the same studio that animated Jujutsu Kaisen and the second half of Attack on Titan.

The manga series is set in the Edo period in Japan with the Shogun sending a bunch of criminals sentenced to death to a long-hidden island to find the elixir of eternal life. The first criminal to find it is to be pardoned by the Shogun. Each criminal is assigned a chaperone, which is someone from the Asaemon Yamada clan that’s specialized in executing criminals by decapitation. One wrong move = instant death. Once arrived at the island, the criminals and chaperones quickly learn why the Shogun’s soldiers haven’t returned….

Emma S

Hersenschimmen, by Bernlef
This suggestion will be for those who also enjoy reading in Dutch every once in a while. Hersenschimmen is a moving portrait of a man’s decline as he is taken by dementia. The time at which this book and I crossed paths was impeccable. Especially because the process of watching someone you love struggling with this illness can set you in a helpless position as you lose access to their inner world. This book is a breathtaking attempt to envision how the individual dealing with the illness might be experiencing it. This book was for me in a few words: powerful, heartbreaking and human, and I was very thankful for it this year.

This Much Is True, by Miriam Margolyes
Being that Margolyes was already a natural storyteller and comedian on stage, writing fits her like another glove. 80-year-old Margolyes possesses the ability to be relatable to almost anyone. She achieves that by daring to be, on many occasions, the first one to give voice to what is in everyone else’s mind. A regular yet extraordinary life retold in all its sharp, witty and slightly cheeky colors, I laughed a lot and smiled even more.

The Lonely City, by Olivia Liang
A stunningly honest collection of essays discussing the often unspeakable subject of loneliness, uncovered through the retelling of the strugglesome early years within a series of artists’ life stories—each of them set in the landscape of vast unruly cities.

Nightbitch, by Rachel Yoder
To read this book is to feel absolutely alive. It is, in short, exhilarating, satirical, sharp, cathartic. I smiled all the way through it.

Create Dangerously, by Albert Camus
This is for any artist (or future artist) who aspires to create outside his or her comforts and conventions. Who’s ready to channel new critiques into their art. Or for someone simply curious what innovations may take place within the arts this century. Or what holds artists back from moving forward to a new mode of creation.


Babel, by R.F. Kuang
Probably the most erudite way to have your heart eviscerated in 2022. Babel is R.F. Kuang’s latest masterpiece. An alternate historical fantasy novel set in 1840’s academic Oxford. It explores how the magic of language and colonial oppression are intertwined. Perfect for fans of dark academia or people who like their books on the gut-punchy side.

Ask Iwata, by Satoru Iwata
A collection of short essays by Satoru Iwata, the legendary CEO of Nintendo. Usually, I don’t read a lot of business books, but these little nuggets of advice by a corporate president who is a gamer at heart just feel like the kind of words you can revisit many times and still find something new in them. Handy advice for business people, or just how to achieve a life well-lived in general.

Jade Legacy, by Fonda Lee
This is the thrilling finale of the Green Bone Saga. Think Godfather part 3, but then as an actual good movie with a Hong Kong-esque setting filled with magically-infused martial arts and violent gangster wars.
The Green Bone Saga starts with Jade City, continues with Jade War and ends with Jade Legacy.

Speaking Bones, by Ken Liu
Another thrilling finale of an epic fantasy saga I really enjoyed. The Dandelion Saga is a multifaceted epic that combines stories of technological progress, moral questions about governance, religion and ye olde ancient question of who will stab who in the back to win the throne seamlessly. Speaking Bones sticks the landing for the series and turning the last page really felt like ending a long and memorable journey.
The Dandelion Saga starts with The Grace of Kings, continues with The Wall of Storms and The Veiled Throne and ends with Speaking Bones.

Legends and Lattes, by Travis Baldree
I have a soft spot for cozy fantasy. Especially the kind in which the main character builds something up instead of burning down whole cities yelling dracarys. Coffee is also a thing I happen to like. So, it is no surprise I really enjoyed Legends and Lattes; the coziest fantasy of 2022 about an Orc adventurer who decides to retire and open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. For fans of Dungeons & Dragons, coffee and Animal Crossing.

Iris W

The Last Firefox, by Lee Newbery
When Charlie is entrusted with a magical firefox, it’s like being handed an adorable, orange puppy—except he must keep it a secret. Oh, and it could set his house on fire at any moment. No biggie. Charlie is having a hard time (he’s leaving school, he’s getting bullied and his dads are thinking about adopting another child), but agrees to take the creature in. But when the two days are up and no one comes to collect it, things get out of hand – especially when it becomes clear that others are after the floofy troublemaker.
I thought I was done with middle grade, but this book is just so good. The story is exciting, the characters are GREAT, the fox is the most adorable thing in the world (Laura Catalán’s art is PERFECT!), and perhaps my favorite thing: it’s properly funny in a way that also works for adult readers. If you like your middle grade with a hint of magic, a bit of LGBTQIA+ rep and the most adorable fox cub you’ve ever laid eyes on, this is definitely the book for you!

Spear, by Nicola Griffith
A year or two ago I first started reading novellas, and I quickly became totally obsessed with the format. There isn’t a ton of room for worldbuilding because of their length, meaning that every bit of story has to pack SUCH a punch—resulting in rich, vibrant stories that are thrilling to read.
This particular novella is a retelling of (a part of) the King Arthur legend. I was optimistic going in, but even so, I had not expected to be as completely blown away by this book as I ended up being. I don’t want to give too much away (it’s a short book, after all), but there’s a nice bit of gender bending and sapphic romance, all while drawing from different mythologies. Highly recommend!

Babel, or The Necessity of Violence, by R.F. Kuang
It’s hard to talk about this book and all that it encompasses without giving too much away, so here are some buzzwords: historical fantasy, translation and etymology, working magic through silver, colonial oppression, the dark side of academia (not “dark academia” per se, but something much more real), revolution, resistance and the power of language. The author has described Babel as “a love letter and breakup letter to Oxford,” which encompasses the whole thing perfectly. Just like the main character, you’ll find yourself drawn in by her wonderful descriptions of campus life, but beware: Rebecca Kuang is DEFINITELY not above breaking your heart a few times over before the end of the story!

The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal
The premise of this book reminded me of The Relentless Moon by the same author, the third (and my favorite) part in the Lady Astronaut series, in that it’s a sci-fi novel but also a whodunnit. This story has a lot of moving parts: a pair of newlyweds (one of them extremely rich & famous, but traveling incognito) on their interplanetary honeymoon, a closed-circle murder mystery on a luxury space liner, different factions that all have their own interests and agendas, lots of cocktail recipes and a very cute dog named Gimlet. It’s doing a lot of things, but I still found the story to be an absolute page-turner. Perfect for an evening read—preferably by a fireplace, with your cocktail of choice close at hand.

The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
This chonker of a book had been on my TBR list for quite a while; multiple friends and colleagues were enthusiastic about it and I knew I would probably like it, but I kept putting it off because it’s just such a doorstopper. And while it’s true that reading this brick of a book means a significant time investment, it’s SO worth it. The world, these characters, the dragons, the different countries and cultures and history and mythologies—they are completely mind-blowing. Even after spending well over 800 pages in this world, I found myself wishing it wouldn’t end.

Honorable mentions :
The Ogress and the Orphans, by Kelly Barnhill
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, by Zen Cho
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, by C.A. Fletcher


Grief: A Philosophical Guide, by Michael Cholbi
I read a lot about grief this year. This is one of my “favorites.” A very philosophical look on why we grieve and how we can, through grieving, grow as a person. As with a lot of philosophical books, this is not so much a “how to” but it definitely makes you think.

The Trouble With Being Born, by E.M. Cioran
Cioran’s collection of aphorisms on life, death and everything in between is highly quotable about a lot of things. He has a very pessimistic and nihilistic view on being born and living, but somehow through his works, he gives you hope and a reason to live.

Valuable Humans in Transit and Other Stories, by qntm
A collection of short speculative fiction, including a weird Twitter-based story.

Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven was one of my favorite reads from last year. I haven’t read a book by this author that I haven’t really love. Sea of Tranquility is another one of them. Spanning from 1912 to about 300 years later, Emily St. John Mandel introduces similar but seemingly unconnected characters and then brings them together in a great way. A bit of time travel and a weird anomaly.

The Shadow of the Gods, by John Gwynne
Gwynne’s new epic Norse-inspired fantasy is very focused on a couple of characters and full of action.


The Golem, by Gustav Meyrink, translated by Mike Mitchell
There are books that you read at the right time in your life, and, for me, this was one of them. This mystical fantasy set in the old Prague ghetto was quite an experience where fiction started moving into dreams and the story reflected reality. A classic that still resonates today.

The End of Mr. Y, by Scarlett Thomas
This book was recommended by a former colleague. Ariel Manto is a miserable student, but when one of the university buildings collapses and her professor disappears, she happens to stumble on to the cursed book The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop. The story just gets weird from there, involving a Mouse God, a parallel reality and secret agents. A great weird fiction read.

How High We Go in the Dark, by Sequoia Nagamatsu
A surprisingly fresh voice in science fiction, this story is about a pandemic that spans generations and millennia. Sometimes verging on the grotesque, Nagamatsu asks important questions about how we deal with life, sickness and death.

The Cat Who Saved Books, by Sosuke Natsukawa, translated by Louse Heal Kawai
When you love books and cats there is no way you can get around this one. Rintaro Natsuki is a shy and socially awkward high school student who recently inherited his grandfather’s bookshop. He is about to close it down, but then a talking cat appears and demands he go save the unloved and unread books. A fine coming of age story with a beautiful ending.

The Owl Service, by Alan Garner
A forgotten children’s classic set in the Welsh countryside. Three teens discover strange goings-on in the manor house they live in after they find a set of plates in the attic. Myth and reality start intertwining when the cycles of old legends come to life and are reenacted. A great read full of mystery and suspense.

Emma V

Botanical Curses and Poisons: The Shadow-Lives of Plants, by Fez Inkwright
This book is so fascinating—it is actually more of an encyclopedia of poisonous plants and fungi and the ominous folklore and history surrounding them. It’s really interesting to read how the harmful properties of these plants caused connections to witchcraft and the supernatural. Each entry starts with a famous citation referring to the plant in question, which shows how much these plants are still present in our (literary) lives. The book’s cover image appealed to me at first, and I think Inkwright’s dark though elegant artwork really adds to the book’s mysterious content. I definitely recommend reading this one if you are fond of magic and folklore. But if you are a nature lover or gardening enthusiast and like the extra dimension the folklore gives to everyday plants, it will also appeal to you.

De Tuin der Feeën (L’Herbier des Fées), by Sébastien Perez and Benjamin Lacombe
I read this book, as you may guess from its title, in Dutch. Originally it was written in French. For some reason (which I very much regret), this book has not (yet) been translated into English. This is a children’s picture book, but the wonderful illustrations and story will enchant adults, too. The fictional Russian botanist Alexander Bogdanowitch, sent by Rasputin himself to the legendary (but existing) forest of Brocéliande (Brittany), researches the forest’s magical plants. These turn out to be merged with or inhibited by fairies and other creatures! The illustrations are very inventive, colorful and at times also a little sinister. Some are even cut outs or see through. I found myself looking at them again and again. What a treasure!

A Selection of Designs Inspired by Iznik and Delft Pottery in Cross Stitch, by Durene Jones
I love handiwork and I find cross-stitch a very accessible and fun way to get started. I was so excited to make designs from this book, because they are so colorful, elegant and beautiful. I also find incorporating pottery designs into cross-stitch patterns a very original idea. The designs themselves turn out to be relatively complicated to make, because the linen required for these patterns is very refined, which makes the stitching quite challenging. However, once I train a bit more I will love to try again!

Bible of Illuminated Letters: A Treasury of Decorative Calligraphy, by Margaret Morgan
I really like hand lettering and calligraphy, and I found this book so inspiring and interesting to look into! It shows the existing different types of medieval calligraphy, but it also shows more contemporary ways to achieve similar results. Made me want to start right away!

Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic, edited by Daisy Butcher
This is a collection of gothic stories (mainly 19th and 20th century) in which the culprit behind the murders turns out to be a plant or fungus! I found these stories really original because not often a plant itself acts as a killer. It also felt like a nice wintry read to me because the stories have this gothic atmosphere. The collection includes, among others, classics by H.G. Wells and E. Nesbit.


The Woman Who Killed the Fish, by Clarice Lispector

The Book of Goose, by Yiyun Li

A Girl’s Story, by Annie Ernaux

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin

Island, by Aldous Huxley

Honorable mentions:
Woman, Eating, by Claire Kohda
The Time-Thief, by Patience Agbabi

Maria S

Hell Followed With Us, by Andrew Joseph White
A grim and gruesome post-apocalyptic tale with great LGBTQ+ representation. The ending did not go where I expected it to go and threw me way off. I love it when a book does that. An amazing debut from author Andrew Joseph White.

Kingdom of Ash, by Sarah J. Maas
The mind-blowing conclusion of the Throne of Glass series. I started just last year with this series and the final book was epic, to say the least. It’s such a nail-biting last book and a mixed ending for this series. I enjoyed it a lot.

This series begins with Throne of Glass, continues with Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn and comes to its conclusion with Kingdom of Ash.

Wolfsong, by T.J. Klune
A werewolf book I did not expect to like as much as I did. Finished it in three days and craved more. The main character has such a well-written and deep story arc, I could not have enough of him. And I wanted more of this modern world where beasts roam the woods and cities.

Kingdom of the Wicked, by Kerri Maniscalco
What a fantastic start to the series. I cannot wait to read the second book after this introduction. I love the darkness of it. Superstition that turns out to be very real is one of my favorite book tropes, also… Enemies to Lovers.

The Shadow of the Gods, by John Gwynne
This is a gritty and violent Norse mythology-inspired tale that features monsters, magic, vengeance, warbands and shield walls. I loved this book, such an epic fantasy with great characters and an amazing dark story!


The Bullet That Missed, by Richard Osman
I was waiting for this one and hoped it would be as entertaining and charming as the first two, and it was! Maybe even the best installment yet. A group of septuagenarians in a care home have a hobby: to investigate old unsolved cases. They all bring their own talent to the table, and what follows is a slow-paced, often hilarious investigation in their corner of England. Loads of characters (with a character) to love.
The Thursday Murder Club is the first book in the series of same name and continues with The Man Who Died Twice. The Bullet That Missed is the third in the series and there’s a 4th book coming out in 2023.

The Sandman graphic novels, by Neil Gaiman
There are a lot of volumes in this series, so start with the first one. I reread the whole bunch because of the TV-series on Netflix. Still every bit as good as the first time I read them, some 20 years ago. So much story! The tales sometimes seem like loose threads, but they eventually all tie together in some amazingly imaginative ways. What a masterpiece!

Northwind, by J.D. Kirk
A former police detective and Gulf war veteran from Scotland goes to London to find the missing daughter of one of his buddies. As he digs deeper, he uncovers something bigger than what he would have liked. The star of these books (three now) is the main character Robert Hoon. As foul-mouthed and coarse as anything I’ve ever read (it borders on the ridiculous), it cracked me up constantly. Plenty of action, too!
Robert Hoon is a minor character in J.D. Kirk’s other series DCI Logan (see below).

I started to read the DCI Logan books because I liked the Robert Hoon series so much. Turns out these are also really enjoyable. The first installment is A Litter of Bones by J.D. Kirk. Set in Scotland, these are more genuine policing novels than the other series. I like his writing style (fast-paced), the setting and the plotting. Reads as a BBC crime drama, really.

Daughter of the Morning Star, by Craig Johnson
I always add one of these because….you should read this series! Unfortunately, I am now completely up-to-date, so I have to wait for about a year every time I finish one. Which makes me sad.
The Cold Dish is the first installment of this gripping series.


The Travelling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa
This story follows a man and his cat. Together they travel to see several friends from his past. The chapters alter between the cat’s point of view and the human’s. It is a cute little story with a bittersweet end. Perfect for a quick and easy read.

Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green
Sometimes silly, sometimes serious. John Green describes his thoughts about several subjects and happenings from the Anthropocene. It was a perfect book to change pace. Since they are all short essays, you don’t need to read it all at once, and it can be good as an “in-between books” filler.

Empire of the Vampire, by Jay Kristoff
This was the first book I read this year, and with its 700 pages, it’s quite a task. After I got used to the non-chronological way of storytelling, I quickly got hooked. It is definitely a vampire story for adults set in a grim Dark Ages-esque background. It is the first book in the series, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Out, by Natsuo Kirino
Published in the 1990s, this crime-based story is seen as one of the staples of Japanese literature. It follows a group of four women after one of them murders her husband and the other three help to get rid of the body. Written from several characters’ point of view, you’re starting to root for everyone to get away with this cold-blooded crime. It is not a scary thriller but quite intriguing with some absurd to almost funny moments.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World, by Haruki Murakami
This book is absurd from beginning to end. No one has names, not even the main character. There are two storylines: one following a calcutec in the midst of what seems to be a data war, trying to rescue “The Professor” together with “The Girl in Pink”; and the other one set in a mysterious town called quite simply “The Town.” I had no clue what it was about until the end, and I loved every second of it. Definitely a book to read if you like mystery and absurdism.


As the blog mistress of this edition, I’ve selected six main titles, with some honorable mentions as well. Because there are so many good titles worth mentioning, I had to come up with some extra ones. My main selection is romance heavy, which is perfect for wintry nights. And even though I’m fond of great escapism, I do like some serious business as well.

Threads magazine
As a seamstress, I love anything related to sewing, and Threads is the best magazine for the advanced sewer. Full of interesting techniques and articles, it’s always worth the read. You learn a lot with it, even when you’re already an expert. More for adventurous and advanced sewers.

Consumed, by Aja Barber
I love this book for all its layers and call to action. It’s a book worth reading and rereading to keep you aware of everything Aja Barber shows us. In it, we are confronted with all the problems existing in our society, from consumerism to endemic injustices and how uncomfortable the history of the textile industry is: full of slavery, racism and wealth inequality. It lets us see ways to be the change, to better understand the world and to accept that we need to deal with the situation in which we all live. “Consumed will teach you how to be a citizen and not a consumer.”

The Dead Romantics, by Ashley Poston
I can’t recommend this book enough; it is such a great read! Full of all sorts of ghosts, it tells the story of a ghostwriter who sees spirits and has to learn to deal with her own ghosts, those in her head and the real ones. Florence is a great character learning to accept that life is not always what other people make of it, but what we make of it ourselves.

Ice Planet Barbarians, by Ruby Dixon
Hilarious steamy romance about a bunch of women kidnapped by aliens that end up in an ice planet full of very tall blue aliens. They save the women and romance follows, not without complications and miscommunication of all kinds. The first in a series, all are worth reading if you like sexy romances and absolute escapism.

Love on the Brain, by Ali Hazelwood
I loved The Love Hypothesis and jumped right in to read Love on the Brain. And it didn’t disappoint. On the contrary! It’s hilarious, a bit sexy but mostly full of girl-power and reminders of how important it is for intelligent women to go for what they want in our society, to confront their fears and keep fighting for equality on the work floor.

Archangel’s Resurrection, by Nalini Singh
As a huge fan, I read all Nalini Singh’s books whenever I have the chance. This one is number 15 in the Guild Hunter series that starts with Angels’ Blood. In this one, she continues to show us a world recuperating from a devastating war amongst angelskin, vampires and humans, with some interesting twists.

Honorable mentions:
Make, Sew and Mend, by Bernadette Banner
Shades of Milk and Honey, the first in The Glamourist series, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Vagina Obscura, by Rachel E. Gross
The Wedding Crasher, by Mia Sosa
The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune