My 2022 Reading List

17 January 2022

For the last two years, I’ve pre-planned 24 books to read throughout the year – one fiction and one non-fiction each month – for my own personal book club. It’s a plan I’ve held loosely (I read 17 of my 24 picks in both 2020 and 2021), but one that’s been a bright spot. There are just so many incredible books to read (!!), and it’s nice to be thoughtful about how I’ll meander through my TBR list – carving out time for both new authors, subjects, and modes as well as old favorites.

Here’s what I have planned for 2022. I’m excited to read each one of these books, and if you’d like me to join me for any of them, I’d love to have you!

The Last Story of Mina Lee | Recommended by my friend Sam, this is the story of a Korean immigrant mother and her daughter, switching between their two perspectives decades apart, and the far-reaching impacts of the secrets they keep.
The Power of Fun | This book is brand new – it came out in December 2021! – and I’m reading it along with Janssen’s book club. For a naturally serious person who also places a high value on creating memorable and fun experiences for the people I love, reading a book about having fun sounds just about right :)

The Evening and the Morning | This is the prequel to Ken Follett’s epic, beloved Kingsbridge series. The books are fat and engrossing, and I’ve savored them by reading one per year over the last few years. This installment begins in 997 CE, the beginning of the Middle Ages (fascinating!), and is supposed to be just as good as the others.
Gentle and Lowly | I’ve never really read a book focusing just on who Jesus is, but The Book of Longings, which imagines his earlier life, made me want to learn even more about him. This one, which promises to “reflect on his words, diving deep into Bible passages that speak of his affections for sinners and encouraging believers as they journey, weary and faltering, toward heaven,” comes highly recommended.

Cloud Cuckoo Land | This was my friend Steph’s top pick of 2021, so it was an automatic add to this list! I loved All the Light We Cannot See by the same author and am intrigued by the premise: “Set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion.”
The Weekday Vegetarians
| I snagged this book late last year and though technically a cookbook, it’s packed with anecdotes, advice, and Jenny’s warm, funny writing I love so much. Looking forward to having dedicated time to page through it!

Sisters in Arms | Yet another 2021 release! I’ll be reading this untold true story of the only all-black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps in World War II with Janssen.
I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet | I’ve never met a Shauna Niequist book I haven’t loved. This one comes out in April and I’ve preordered it.

The Great Circle | My literary agent/author brother-in-law and I were chatting about this list I was compiling over the Christmas holiday, and he mentioned The Great Circle as a book he read last year he thought I’d love. Also a 2021 release, this expansive story centers on Marian, whose dream is to circumnavigate the globe by flying over the North and South Poles, and Hadley, the actress cast to play her in a movie a century later. (Looking back at this post, I realized reader Abigail recommended it, too! Yay!)
Hunt, Gather, Parent | It’s not a good year of reading if I don’t intake several parenting books (I just can’t quit them!), and this one sounds right up my alley. It’s also the May pick for Janssen’s book club, which moved it to the top of my queue.

Between Two Kingdoms | This memoir was the one non-economics book Emily Oster mentioned in her newsletter last year (with effusive praise), and I was intrigued enough to add it to my list. “A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission to re-entry into ‘normal’ life—from the author of the Life, Interrupted column in The New York Times.”
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion | If you’re reading this blog, I assume you’re aware of my love for The Coddling of the American Mind (I push it on anyone I can at every opportunity). This book, by one of the authors, feels ever more relevant.

Crossing to Safety | This list skews heavily new (I don’t know if I’ve ever read so many recent releases!), so it’s fun to add one from the archives. This one was recommended by a friend and from the description sounds a bit like The Dearly Beloved, which I loved from last year’s list!
Foundations: 12 Biblical Truths to Shape a Family | I’ve enjoyed listening to Ruth and her husband on several podcasts recently and am excited to read their first combined book effort. Reading this one with my bud Nancy.

Piranesi | Heather raved about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel and Piranesi on this post, and Susanna Clarke has popped up several times since then as a rec! Plus, she has a fabulous name :)
Take Back Your Family | This book has my name written all over it. I will admit I am a little ambivalent on Jeff Bethke as a podcast host/guest (he talks so fast!!) but I think his ideas are solid and so I’m willing to give him a chance on the page.

A Long Petal of the Sea | Another Steph favorite! “One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date,” says the NY Times Book Review, “and one of the strongest and most affecting works in Isabel Allende’s long career.”
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee | Shauna Niequist highly recommended this parenting book on her episode of the Coffee & Crumbs podcast, and I always think it’s interesting to read what’s influenced the people influencing you.

The Rose Code | I’m currently number 659 on the holds list for this at my local library, so maybe it will be available by the time October rolls around?
A Testament of Hope | At 736 pages, this compendium of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches, writings, interviews, and reflections will be a feat to finish, but I’m up for the challenge. Dr. King seems to be a person that every agenda likes to twist to fit their own narrative, and so I’m looking forward to diving into his actual words!

The Snow Child | Based on the description, I’m not really sure what to expect from this Pulitzer Prize finalist, but it sounds appropriate to read as the weather gets colder.
The Art of Gathering | A final read with Janssen’s book club!

The Four Winds | Though I’ve loved Kristin Hannah’s other books (The Great Alone, The Nightingale), and despite it being the best-selling hardcover novel the year it released, I didn’t rush to read The Four Winds because I’d heard mixed reviews (mainly that it was depressing?). When Nancy put it on her list, though, it seemed like the time to jump in.
Four Thousand Weeks | Based on the premise that the average human life span is about four thousand weeks (or 80 years), this book – “time management for mortals” – this book “introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing finitude, showing how many of the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths, but choices we’ve made as individuals and as a society―and that we could do things differently.” I mean, yes. Sounds like the perfect read for the season of reflecting on the passing of another year.

I’d love to hear: Have you read any of these books? Would you like to read any alongside me in 2022? Let’s chat!

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January 17, 2022 7:00 pm

I was just getting ready to writing my reading list post when I somehow deleted my „To Do“ account – where I gathered all my TBR books. Urghs… So now I‘m trying to dig into my memory and I know I won’t remember all 15 books that I had picked for this year. Funnily enough (although not surprising) we do have a couple of books in common: Cloud Cuckoo Land (like you, I enjoyed All The Light We Cannot See), The Blessing of A Skinned Knee (also put that on the list as I was listening to the C&C podcast, ha!) and Shauna‘s own newest book, of course! Oh, and Weekday Vegetarians, too! Although I hadn’t considered putting that on my reading list as I thought of it as a cookbook. I mainly got it for the recipes (since I’m eating vegetarian this year), but your post made me excited about the entire book! Looking forward to reading alongside you!
I did read The Four Winds last year and thought it was really good, but yes, also very depressing.
Thanks for sharing!

Kelly Strawberry
January 18, 2022 7:50 am

Wow, I read the Snow Child about 10 years ago! Wondering what prompted this add to your list? A memorable book, unique storyline…it has stuck with me. :)

Abigail Gray
January 18, 2022 8:15 am

I’ve been so looking forward to this post, yay! I am SO excited to spot several favorites on your list – Great Circle (as you know), The Rose Code, and Between Two Kingdoms. I read all three in 2021 and all were in my top 5 of the year. I think you’ll love all of them and I will be VERY eager to hear your thoughts! I had mixed feelings on The Four Winds, but I think many readers who liked The Great Alone liked it, too. I struggled a bit with both but am ultimately glad I read them. I would love to read Cloud Cuckoo Land and A Long Petal of the Sea with you, the former is large so it will be good to have extra motivation to dig in and the latter has been sitting on my shelf for two years :)

Abigail Gray
January 18, 2022 3:47 pm
Reply to  Em

Yes! I must admit I love a hefty tome (when it’s good) because it means I get to linger in a story and with the characters longer :)

January 18, 2022 8:56 am

I’m absolutely loving so many of your 2022 picks, for sure!! And I’m honored you are reading a few based off of my recommendations, too! Cloud Cuckoo Land was breathtakingly beautiful, though impossibly hard to describe. I adore The Four Winds (I’m okay with sad books, especially since this one was so interesting and compelling), I’m thrilled you love Ken Follet books as much as I do (I think you have my copy of The Evening and the Morning??), The Rose Code is absolutely excellent (despite being another WWII book), and I liked The Great Circle but didn’t love it — lots of thoughts on that one. Gentle and Lowly, the new Shauna Niequist (LOVE her), and Righteous Mind (our small group is reading this one) are all on my 2022 non-fiction picks! Hooray for no shortage of amazing books!!!

January 18, 2022 9:24 am

Great list! I also have The Four Winds on my reading list for this year. And I’ve been looking for another non-fiction book to add to this year’s list to bring me up to 24, so I may add Four Thousand Weeks. Sounds fascinating! And if I get through all the books on my list for this year, may have to add Cloud Cuckoo Land as a bonus read since I also loved All The Light We Cannot See.

January 18, 2022 10:23 am

I have not read a SINGLE book on your list … but I’m on the library holds list for Cloud Cuckoo Land and Four Thousand Weeks! Also super interested in Shauna Niequist’s new book (I didn’t know she had a new one coming out!) and, of course, by The Righteous Mind.

January 18, 2022 12:30 pm

PI’m about halfway through Gentle and Lowly, it’s life-changing!! I’m getting to know Jesus more intimately than ever before. I read A Long Petal of the Sea last year and thought it was meh. The story is beautiful, but I’m not a fan of her writing style (I hadn’t read anything by her before, and was bummed again and again when she would give away a crucial plot line in one sentence instead of describing all the details). I think Piranesi sounds amazing, and I’m looking up a lot of your other recs! :) This year I’m planning to attempt the Count of Monte Cristo… en francais. We’ll see how it goes haha.

January 18, 2022 12:59 pm

I loved reading your list and just added several of these to my Amazon list. Like you, I am looking forward to Shauna’s new release in April!
One of my intentions this year is to read for at least 10 minutes a day. I love to read, but it’s a hobby that has fallen by the wayside for me. What’s been wonderful is that 10 minutes is short enough that it isn’t too daunting to tackle, but most days, I’ve found myself reading more than 10 minutes! I’ve made my way through several books this month and it’s been a good realization to carve out time for what matters (and also makes me realize how much time I was wasting in the evening scrolling – yikes!).

January 18, 2022 8:48 pm

I’m putting together my reading list as well. I love fiction. For non-fiction I tend to stick with mostly memoirs, but am very cautious with anything resembling “self help” unless it’s a book recommended by my therapist, who is a licensed psychologist. So I can’t understand why you gravitate toward parenting books! Hahah What do you like about them? Do you have a standard for which ones you’ll read (How long they’ve been parents? How many kids? Challenges that their kids face? Are the authors scientists?)”. And don’t they seem too preachy?? And what was your big takeaway from The Coddling of the American Mind? Have you ever written a blog post about it?

January 19, 2022 9:45 am

Love the thoughtful diversity in your selections! Do you have a go-to local shop for doing pre-orders? I’ve only ever done on Amazon?

January 19, 2022 9:54 am

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on The Righteous Mind. I read it last year and didn’t love it? It wasn’t terrible but, in my opinion, nowhere near the caliber of The Coddling of the American Mind.

January 20, 2022 10:17 am

I’ve got Sisters in Arms and The Righteous Mind on my list this year too! I always look forward to your review of parenting books as well – helps me decide which ones I want to read myself.

January 21, 2022 7:00 am

I am currently reading The Blessings of a Skinned Knee and would love to chat after you finish it! The Four Winds was sad, but power through until maybe 70% (I know because I was reading it on my kindle and looked down to note). I read her book Winter Garden recently (a good cold weather book!) and reminded at the great female characters she writes. I remember thinking “if she can trek through the snow and save her children, then surely I can go put the laundry away.” I read Piranisi over the summer and had mixed feelings. It reminded me of a high school required reading… good but also maybe I didn’t pick up on everything? I listened to Joy Clarkson’s podcast where she discussed this book chapter by chapter and that certainly helped! Love this list! ✨

January 30, 2022 5:17 pm

I hope you enjoy Piranesi! I have heard the Joy Clarkson podcast on it is really good, but haven’t listened to it. You might find this article helpful when the time comes. I always like knowing if an author has any faith in God, because that changes so much in a person and what they create.

I’m taking some of your books for a new book club I’m joining! I’m a little nervous because I tend to be picky and hard on books. It’s hard for me to read a book I know I won’t enjoy!

February 1, 2022 3:58 pm

I LOVED Hunt, Gather, Parent! Read it last year and rereading it now. Still trying to figure out exactly how to implement things and what I agree with versus don’t, but the Mayan section of the book on helpfulness is my favorite and is INCREDIBLE. I am also a big fan of the Positive Parenting Solutions course (starring the one and only Nancy Ray haha), and HGP definitely does not align with everything from PPS. I have had this nagging suspicion/wonder the past several months that maybe the way we parent as modern day Americans is totally ridiculous, over-the-top, way more exhausting than it needs to be, way too kid-centric, etc. So I’m still trying to figure out where I land on things… (Do I play with my kids because I think I should? Or am I the kind of person who doesn’t play with my kids because that is not something most parents did/do throughout the world? Do I give my kids tons of encouragement? Or do I not, because encouragement, which is at least better than praise, can still supposedly be demotivating, and again, is a very new thing that “good” parents do?) So many questions. :D I’m SOO interested to hear what you think! (If you hate it, that’s fine–but I’m curious to hear!)

February 9, 2022 2:30 pm

I just wanted to share “a long petal,”’is just 2.50 on Amazon kindle right now.

I loved four winds, though it was depressing.

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