I'm a little late to the game for a 2022 book roundup, but better late than never.
This year, like the two years before it, is a time to give each other grace, don't you agree?
Readers aren't always writers—but writers should always be readers! If you aren't reading in the genre you are writing in, start now! That's the number one thing you can do to improve your writing.
You'll notice that my list is heavily skewed toward memoir ...
1. Lost and Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz
The author explores the relationship between grief and joy, two emotions that feel like opposites but are very often held in the same experience. That certainly has been the case for me in my "new life," and it's a tension I plan to explore in my next book.
2. Plain: A Memoir of Mennonite Girlhood by Mary Alice Hostetter
This is a cool one for me! The author grew up in Lancaster PA, where I now live, although under very different circumstances. Another cool thing: this newly-released memoir is published by the University of Wisconsin Press, which just happens to be the publisher for my memoir, Graveyard of Safe Choices, to be published in Winter 2024.
3. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
The latest novel by Elizabeth Strout. Enough said. If you haven't read Strout before, you are in for a treat. A writer who makes writing look so easy—truth: it's anything but.
4. Heretic: A Memoir by Jeanna Kadlec
Both a personal coming out story and an examination of evangelicalism and purity culture. A fascinating read and a great example of a braided memoir.
5. The Family Outing: A Memoir by Jessi Hempel
The author had me with the title. I mean, how is it that no one used this title before? Maybe it's because no one had the courage to tell the story of an entire family that came out, each in their own way.
6. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
I devoured this book on the LOOOONG flight from Pennsylvania to Santa Barbara this fall, where I was attending a goal setting retreat for book coaches. I couldn't stop underlining and starring passages.
This book empowered me to feel like I COULD make some significant changes in my personal and professional life, simply by taking some tiny first steps. I plan to utilize the principles in WRITE YOURSELF, the mentorship & community for LGBTQ+ writers, that I am launching in April.
7. Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home by Lara Lillibridge
A highly unusual structure and voice for a highly unusual childhood. Lillibridge writes largely in the third person, referring to herself as "Girl," her brother as "Brother," mom as "Mother," and stepmother as "Stepmother." The structure is fascinating, although not nearly as fascinating as a childhood that would not be believable as fiction.
8. The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich
Brilliantly written and constructed, this is a braided memoir par excellence—braided memoir meaning there are multiple stories being woven together. True crime fans. Memoir fans. Another story that proves that truth is stranger than fiction.
9. Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi
An extraordinary genre and gender bending memoir written in letters that crosses over to speculative nonfiction.
10. Madman in the Woods: Life Next Door to the Unabomber by Jamie Gehring
Another braided true crime memoir that takes us inside the life of a child who grew up with a mass murderer as a neighbor and as an adult sets out on a quest to understand both her childhood and the man she knew as Uncle Ted. Another reason I love this book is that the author was my book coaching client! Go Jamie!
11. The Fixed Stars: A Memoir by Molly Wizenberg
I've read every "coming out later in life" memoir I could get my hands on, and this is a beautifully written one. The author, a married woman in her late thirties, shares the shock of unexpectedly falling in love with a woman and all the ensuing fall out.
Fun fact: I used this book for one of my "comp titles" in my book proposal for my memoir.
12. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
This graphic memoir is poignant, funny, entertaining, and the most banned, challenged, or restricted book in schools and libraries in 2022. Need I say more?
What books did you read in 2022?
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