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Well, I’m not sure how 2022 whizzed by, but here we are. I hope that your year was filled with family, friends, good health and a dizzying number of books added to your TBR pile.

For me, the reading year was marked by peaks and valleys, with some wonderful 5-star books, and some underwhelming disappointments. To end the year on a positive note, I’ll focus on my top 5 reads of the year. I’ll start with my #5 favorite, and will count down to the book that left an indelible mark on my heart. Don’t be confused if the books weren’t all published this year; I’m in a constant state of getting through an endless TBR list!

Wait… before I get to the year’s Top 5, I need to mention a Classic that was both charming and uplifting all at once.

Favorite Classic: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

While I watched the movie 84, Charing Cross Road many years ago (starring the incomparable Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins), I hadn’t actually picked up the book until this year. Not sure what I was thinking with that ridiculous delay. Well, let’s just say that while it’s small, 84, Charing Cross Road is firmly packed with love, books, and lifelong friendships. If you haven’t come across it yet, seek it out. It’s a compilation of letters between two marvelous readers, and their unlikely bond winds up spanning decades. Helene Hanff’s writing is witty, sharp and sweet in all the right places. This book made me run out and order a collection of her writing, which I’m anxious to dive into with a nice hot cup of tea.

#5 Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

I came across this gem at my local library one day and couldn’t leave it behind. Excellent decision. Not only was this book packed with wonderfully layered characters and a breathtaking Scottish landscape, but I learned a great deal about the amazing impact that wolves have on the environment. I also learned about Mirror-Touch Synesthesia, which was entirely new to me. The twins at the core of this novel, Inti and Aggie Flynn, are among the most complex characters that I’ve encountered, as they both enthralled and frightened me. Their strength and devotion were remarkable, and beware, because their bond will leave you with a serious reading hangover. The surrounding Scottish characters were also fantastic, and could each have their own spin-off novels. Loved every page.

#4 The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

Have you discovered Julie Clark yet? These aren’t your regular thrillers. Her books are comprised of whip-smart plots and complex protagonists. You might give up sleep to get to the novel’s end, as ‘cat and mouse’ doesn’t even begin to describe the whirlwind that these books contain. Just like her bookThe Last Flight, Julie Clark had me clinging to her story, which revolved around women standing up for women. 100% here for it!

#3 The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

This is tough to review, because I don’t want to give anything away. The Boy Who Could See Demons is a very powerful read. The characters will stay with you long after you turn the last page. That’s all I’m saying about this complex story, except that it’s worth your time. Trust me.

#2 Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I closed this book convinced that Fredrik Backman knows his readers better than they know themselves. This is another magnificent novel, with incredibly drawn characters and enough heart to make you believe that all will be right with the world. Did I also read The Winners, which Backman released in 2022? Absolutely, and the close of the Beartown series was excellent. Was The Winners better than Anxious People? Not for this reader. Maybe I was just ready to leave Beartown after the third installment. Maybe I was bitter because my Beartown heart was broken. Or… maybe Anxious People is just the kind of uplifting, heart-swelling, character-driven story that the world needs right now. I’ll go with the latter.

#1 The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

If you have not read this sweeping, delicious, amazing novel, please get to your local bookstore or library immediately. I loved every word of this madcap adventure. I loved the prose, the characters, and the astounding sincerity of the dialogue. Every character was more beautifully drawn than the next, and their quirks and personalities made it so I didn’t want the caper to end. Emmett, Woolly, Billy and Duchess left the kind of mark that guarantees I’ll be jumping back into their world again. You might not think that a story about a group of teens traveling across the country in 1954 is worth your reading time, but it is. And if you have access, go for the audio. It’s brilliant!

And there are my top recommendations from my year of 2022 reading. Did I get to everything on my list this year? Definitely not. And I promise that I won’t finish my 2023 reading list next year either. In fact, Hoarder Penny and I have decided that 2023 will be our year of ‘chunky reads.’ You know the books we’re talking about – those novels sitting on your shelves that each take the space of three regular-sized novels. You’re not sure if you should delve in or use the tomes as small tables, and we’re here to help you decide which of them are must-reads. There are several of these enormous books that need to be tackled next year, and we’re ready!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all our reading friends! Wishing you nothing but 5-star reads throughout 2023!