Books We Read in 2022
One of the many perks of working at a library is perhaps the most obvious: We are surrounded by books! Read on to discover what books our library staff could not put down in 2022.
Jeannie, Reference and Assessment Librarian
The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books. Drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Fraser fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography.
Jeannie says: This 2017 biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of the Little House books) strikes a perfect balance, giving the reader context that illuminates the book series, Wilder’s life, and the many hardships and complexities of the time. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, it’s an engrossing read.
Maria, Access Services Support Staff
Willis Wu wants to be Kung Fu Guy but is resigned to being Generic Asian Man. After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family.
Set in past and present-day Oakland, this novel weaves more than ten plot lines involving the lives of Native Americans. All intersect in a crescendo of violence at the Oakland Powwow. It is a book with “so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it’s a revelation” (The New York Times).
Katie, Science and Technology Librarian
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, this is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.
Katie says: This novel charts the lives of two friends who create a popular video game company and explores how friendship can evolve through time and hardship, what success means to different people, and the rarity of finding true partnership. An emotional and thrilling tale!
John, Head of Access & Circulation
American classic, this is one of the world’s great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Vonnegut described as a 23-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee.
Rage is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest. This book draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand witnesses as well as participants’ notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents.
When Robin Ellacott opens an unexpected delivery, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but just as alarmed. He suspects that four people from his past could be responsible — and any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
Hannah, Emerging Technologies Librarian
Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. They just are. So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret–one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us.
Hannah says: Oh Elizabeth Strout! This author always leaves me with an emotional hangover. The book’s narrator, Lucy, voices her delightfully insightful thoughts in a simple manner of speaking. This book is light on plot but thick on character development and hard to put down.
Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.
Hannah says: It’s hard to pinpoint how a novel that focuses on its main character sleeping most of the time can be such an enjoyable read, and yet…
Kirsten, Distance Learning/Scholarly Communication Liaison
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Now this tale, set in the mountains of southern Appalachia is of Demon Copperhead- A boy born to a teenage single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival.
Kirsten says: A coming-of-age story that I could not put down and broke my heart in every chapter. Inspired by Charles Dickens but speaks so strongly to our present.
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, she would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with–of all things–her mind. True chemistry results.
Kirsten says: Don’t let the cover fool you! This novel digs deep on themes of misogyny, single parenthood, and celebrity. Absolutely unforgettable cast of characters.
In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him–and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.
Kirsten says: When you’re ready for a pandemic novel set in New York City, pick this up! Consider an alternate America over two centuries from the centerpoint of Washington Square Park.
Foster by Claire Keegan
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Recursion by Blake Crouch
Now is the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
The Hero of this Book by Elizabeth McCracken
Daughters of the New Year by E.M. Tran
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro
The Rupture Tense by Jenny Xie
Confederacy of Dunces by JK Toole