15 of My Favorite Books in 2022

This year-end round-up of my “top books” is always one of my favorite posts to write. I always look forward to the retrospective of my year, not just because I get to remember everything I read, but also because my memories of my actual life are so intertwined with what I read. (When I’m trying to remember when something happened in my life, I will often ask, “What was I reading at the time?”—then I can look up the book in my reading log and find the date.)

As I’m still in between permanent living circumstances, most of my books are in boxes. This has been a mixed blessing. For the first time in a very long time, I haven’t felt a subtle sense of overwhelm whenever I look at my (literally) five-foot TBR pile. Rather, I opened just one box of books and slowly worked through its contents, supplemented by whatever randomly came my way through PaperbackSwap, and, of course, whatever most tickled my fancy on Kindle.

Like so many other areas of my life during these past years, my reading life has felt rather under siege. I went from consistently reading 100+ books every year in my 20s to sometimes scraping into the end of the year with under 40 books. For a while there, I just didn’t feel like reading (which disturbed me almost as much as the fact that I also didn’t feel like writing during that time). Thankfully, many things have started to shift for me this year, and the desire to read (particularly fiction) has returned to me. This has been my most prolific reading year since 2016.

It’s also been a year in which I’ve just had fun. I didn’t pay much attention to most of my personal reading challenges (the classics, the Pulitzer winners, histories of countries). I read whatever seemed most interesting and pertinent. And now I am pleased to share with you some of my favorites from the year. I hope you will share some of yours with me as well!

Total books read: 69

Fiction to non-fiction ratio: 37:32

Number of books per rating: 5 stars (4), 4 stars (28), 3 stars (27), 2 stars (5), 1 star (0).

(Note: All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Writing Books

The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall

Not quite a “writing” book, but a deeply interesting and informative look behind the curtains of why the human brain seems to be so wired for interacting with stories—and therefore why stories are of such importance. Some of the examples are a little gross-out or juvenile on occasion, but overall I find it a well-considered examination (more questions than answers) of our relationship with story.

Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass

Maass is never a disappointment. One of my favorite things about his writing on writing is that he brings as much heart to the table as he does how-to. He is a powerful proponent for “stories that matter,” and as always he does an excellent job sharing his experience as an agent in a way that helps writers write more efficiently and knowledgeably, but also more passionately.

writing 21st century fiction donald maass

The Magic System Blueprint by C.R. Rowenson

This is a thoughtfully engineered approach to creating comprehensive and cohesive fictional magic systems. Overall, a super-helpful tool, complete with fleshed-out examples from popular stories in different speculative genres.

The Relaxed Author by Joanna Penn and Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Solid and practical advice about building and maintaining a long-term authorial life of quality—from two long-time professionals who know what they’re talking about and thoroughly cover all possible subjects with candor and approachability.

The Secrets of Character by Matt Bird

Bird’s first book Secrets of Story instantly became one of my favorite writing guides. This follow-up dives under the water to take an even more in-depth look at the iceberg of character development. Meticulously researched and brimming with examples, it offers advice that is both precise and actionable. It reveals the genre-spanning patterns of memorable and resonant characters in a easy-to-access reference format that makes for both fun reading and a great tool to keep on your desk for easy thumb-through inspiration.


Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

I adore Pratchett. Or maybe I just adore Captain Carrot. 😉 Regardless, Pratchett’s genius is on full display here in yet another entry in which he somehow manages to write a book that is “light reading,” low-brow comedy, good-natured affirmation of humanity, and high-brow philosophy all at the same time.

Sing My Name by Ellen O’Connell

Such a lovely book. Wonderful characters, beautiful romance, great western vibe. Deep and heart-wrenching story. Non-formulaic, but kept my attention throughout.

Without Words by Ellen O’Connell

I adore the characters in this one and their story. In some ways it’s my favorite of O’Connell’s books (really, they’re all great once you get past the covers). I’ve read the good bits over at least a dozen times probably, even though as a whole it is also one of her slower and perhaps less well-structured books.

Slightly Married by Mary Balogh

Very lovely Regency novel, with a deeply likable and realistic strong and silent hero. Beautiful love story.

The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan

Ryan’s Blood Song is one of my all-time favorite books—unfortunately marred by two sequels in which I was beyond disappointed. When I stumbled onto a duology he wrote as a follow-up to the original trilogy and the reviews promised it fixed the problems from the sequels and returned to all the good stuff from the first book, I had to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It’s not the first book, but it’s also not the sequels. Although it takes a bit to get going in the beginning, this is a solid and interesting fantasy that kept me wanting to read more. It answers the question of what happened to Vaelin’s love interest (who totally disappeared in the sequels), while putting the attention squarely back where it belongs: on Vaelin and his sole POV. I’m happy again. 🙂

General Non-Fiction

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron

I think this book just changed my life. Most of the information in it was stuff I’d already intuited or learned elsewhere, but the way it was framed here under the label of “HSP” (rather than just “introversion”) made something finally click about how I experience life. It helped me reframe many of the things I’ve struggled with all my life or made “wrong” about myself. Gives me a much different perspective moving forward.

Aggressively Happy by Joy Marie Clarkson

I have long enjoyed Sarah Clarkson’s writings; most of her books have been life-changing experiences for me. I was curious if I would feel the same about her sister Joy’s writings, and I’m happy to find that I do. Joy’s style and message is very similar to her sister’s, underlined by the idea that it is necessary for people to decide upon and live out “their own stories.” Earnestly honest, engaging, plucky, and heartfelt—there is much goodness to be found in this fast read of nine essays on the challenges to (and for) being happy in a difficult world.

Educated by Tara Westover

It seems wrong somehow for me to give this five stars. After all, I didn’t love it. It was a painful and often difficult read. But without question, it is a book that hugely impacted me, that reflected back to me some of my own difficult experiences growing up in the stay-at-home-daughter culture, and that by the end felt both sobering and empowering.

The Portuguese: A Modern History by Barry Hatton

This is a very readable, often critical, but ultimately loving exploration of Portuguese culture and history.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

I have been a fan of Riso and Hudson almost since the beginning of my Enneagram journey. This one is probably more accessible than their classic Personality Types, with the emphasis here being more on positive growth rather than potential devolution. The chapters on the nine types are all solid, as expected, with wonderful guidelines and exercises for bringing awareness to each type’s ego “projects” (as they call them). The opening and closing chapters are gold in themselves, offering different models both for theorizing more deeply about the Enneagram itself and the personal growth journey in general.

>>Click here to read about how to use the Enneagram to create character arcs.

My Books

And if all these goodies aren’t enough to fill your To Be Read pile this year, here are a few more! 🙂

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What were your top books of 2022? How many books did you read? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).


Love Helping Writers Become Authors? You can now become a patron. (Huge thanks to those of you who are already part of my Patreon family!)

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Thanks so much for recommending The Portuguese. My WIP is placed in the former Portuguese colony of Angola, where I lived as a child. My family have contacts and connections in Portugal to this day.
    I am curious to know what drew you to this book.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      A few years ago, during the Summer Olympics, I realized I knew very little about many of the countries represented. So I made it a personal challenge to read a history from every country in the world. Portuguese just happened to come my way this year.

  2. Eric Troyer says

    I agree on Educated. Loved it in an uncomfortable sort of way. Here’s a few I read and liked this year:
    –Alone on the Wall: Alex Honnold, his life and quest to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite (from the movie Free Solo)
    –Winterdance: Gary Paulsen’s first Iditarod sled dog race
    –Gulp by Mary Roach: Adventures in the Alimentary Canal. I love everything by Mary Roach!
    –The Sun is a Compass by Caroline van Hemert: adventure travel across the wilds of Alaska
    –The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson: A fun twist on superheroes
    –The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt: Science-based advice on how to live a happy life
    –Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi: Wacky science fiction

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I read Agent to the Stars many years ago and quite enjoyed it. It was one of those few “funny” books that really did make me laugh.

  3. SJ Robertson says

    I enjoyed:
    Dream of Kings, Sharon Hinck
    Hidden Current, Forsaken Island, and Windward Shore, by Sharon Hinck
    Age of Order, State of Order, and Fate of Order, by Julian North
    I Must Betray You, by Ruta Septys
    Writing Reference: Superstructure, by James Scott Bell.

  4. Grace Dvorachek says

    I must admit, the number of books I’ve read this year isn’t very high (though I don’t have an exact count). Although it’s mostly because I’ve been focusing on my writing, I’m definitely aiming for a higher count next year.

    Some of the fiction books I read this year are “Emma,” “Persuasion,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” “Giants in the Earth” (quite long and boring… I didn’t really enjoy it), “The Chosen,” “The Scarlet Letter,” “Billy Budd,” and probably others that I don’t remember at the moment.

    I didn’t read a whole lot of non-fiction this year, and the ones that I did weren’t super impressive. But I did acquire a copy of “The Emotion Thesaurus,” which I am finding quite interesting and useful. Also, I got a book called “Steal Like an Artist,” and enjoyed it so much that I read it through a few times over throughout the year.

  5. A great writing guide AND thumb-through inspiration? I’m sold. I just downloaded the Audible version of Matt Bird’s The Secrets of Story. I recently finished my first novel and am preparing to start on book 2. I hope the audiobook forces me to buy the paperback of both.

  6. Theresa Telenga says

    This is a great list. I have added two to my TBR wish list. Thank you! This year I have read a lot, as always; prior to this year I didn’t realize how valuable reviews were. I didn’t/mostly still don’t read them, but I have tried to leave more reviews. I have YEARS of catching up to do re:reviews with the nearly five thousand books in my personal library. Here are three I enjoyed this year, and immensely so: The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth (takes place in Crete/Greece+a few other places, about strong female protagonist Alenka braving loss and finding love), So Far, So Good by Aaron Fa’Aoso (a riveting memoir by a man with a little-told story – a Torres Strait Islander – that will leave you rushing to locate how to watch Blue Water Empire, as well as the most recent Strait to the Table episodes; a raw, telling memoir), and for upper Middle Grade (for those of us still young at heart) it is Secret of the Shadow Beasts by Diane Magras (Nora and her team will leave you forever changed, and amazed). Enjoy!

  7. Colleen F Janik says

    Thank you for your list of great books to read. This year has been unusual for me because I lived through my own adventure and drama of selling my home in ten days flat, and then make numerous desperate trips to Missouri searching for another place to park my desk, and THEN after getting semi-settled in new home, came down with Covid. At which point all unpacking and organizing activities ceased and life became a series of naps, cups of tea and dwelling within the pages of the wonderful novels I had the foresight to pack and drag into my living room becoming ill.
    In dealing with the trauma of moving out of state and becoming ill, I have been so incredibly thankful for the companionship of books. Some more than others.
    Behold the Dawn is the top of my list. So very thankful for that one.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Aw, very touched that Behold the Dawn was able to keep you company when you weren’t feeling well. I hope 2023 proves to be easier for you all around!

  8. Colleen F Janik says

    Is there a way to make correction? Should be “BEFORE becoming ill.”

  9. Mikiel Ottmar says

    What a wonderful post. Now my diminishing library will be restocked. Thank you

  10. This has been a year when I’ve read less-books-than-average for me, and I take that in stride. In particular, this has been a year when I read few (for me) fiction books, I’ve read plenty of non-fiction.

    An excellent book I recently finished is State of the Heart by Haider Warraich. The reason I picked it up is unfortunate: I wanted to better understand what was happening to me (I am happy to report that the current treatment seems to work and I’m feeling better now, my situation isn’t nearly as dire as many of the patients he describes, some of whom die under his watch). It has deepened my understand of how hearts work and, beyond that, the role of the heart in society in culture. It also changed my perspective on heart disease. Though some lifestyle and demographics can shift the odds of heart disease, it can happen to anyone, even the people with the most perfect heart-healthy lifestyle in the ‘low-risk’ demographic groups. Yet there is also so much more which can be done to alleviate the harms of heart disease.

  11. Oh, and I forgot to add that I’m tempted to pick up some of the books your recommend.

  12. I also didn’t read as much as I wanted to this year. Some standouts:

    ~The Cleopatra’s Daughter Trilogy by Stephanie Dray. Tells the story of Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. She was queen of Mauretania, the land of her husband, Juba II.

    While there is historical evidence Selene intended to have her mother’s throne in Egypt, she obviously never achieved this dream. But in Dray’s telling the reasons are compelling and poignant. In your Archetypal Journeys series you touch on Gail Carriger’s “Heroine’s Journey,” which details the Isis-Demeter Journey. Dray’s trilogy is a perfect example of that journey. It especially resonates because the real and fictitious Selene was a devout Isiac, and seen as a religious figure in her time.

    ~On the nonfiction front: Anyone remember the Harryhausen iteration of “Clash of the Titans?” Or even “Gods of Egypt” (with Gerard Butler as the evil Set)? The technology characters used in those movies, e.g., Bubo the mechanical owl, or Thoth’s cloned servants weren’t merely to make those movies science fantasy.

    Though she doesn’t specifically reference those movies, Adrienne Mayor’s “Gods and Robots” explores the mythical basis behind the mechanical inventions. The Greeks imagined Pandora as an evil android, Talos is a guardian AI that Medea attacks with her “looks can kill gaze,” and Hephaestus constructed golden android women to be his servants. Lots of fun, and Mayor even makes connections to Iron Man and C-3PO among others.

    ~Also there is Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories,” which I’m currently reading. It’s a well-thought out defense of both writing and enjoying fantasy stories. I particularly liked this gem on the definition of “spell”: “…spell means both a story well-told, and a formula for power over living men.” Etymonline.com confirms it!

  13. Very happy to see Mr Pratchett in that list. If I can write anything half as well as he did, I will be a very happy author.

  14. My favorite nonfiction book I read this year was Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby. Some of my fiction favorites were The Maid by Nita Prose, The Sentence by Louise Erdich, The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, and Tell Me How to Be by Neel Patel.

    Thanks for the recommendations! I added some to my forever long Want to Read list!

  15. Joan Farley says

    I decided to up my game in regard to reading this year and have read 101 so far. I’m working on writing a book for YA, so many of the books were in that genre. My favorite YA fantasy was the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. My favorite non-fiction was Holley Gerth’s The Powerful Purpose of Introverts. My favorite memoir was In the Land of Blue Burqas about a woman who spent several years in Afghanistan working with an NPO. I read four books on writing, but I don’t know which was my favorite.

  16. I’ve just added “The Highly Sensitive Person” to my wishlist. That’s a term I just learned about this year. I just thought I was weird before, or that everyone is constantly teary-eyed over every commercial and roadkill!! 🙁 The limited information I’ve found was really helpful in framing my interactions with others and understanding my needs better. I’d really like to read this book to learn more – thank you for pointing out its existence!

    I don’t get through many books these days, as I split with magazines of short stories, but one of note was “The Artist’s Way”. This was my first time going through it. It didn’t resonate with me. I had an old copy so I wonder if the later revisions would make a different impact.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      This was the seminal book on the topic of HSPs. Aron was the one who initiated and pioneered the research. One of the things I was most interested to learn is that “sensitivity” has been researched, quite thoroughly. I wasn’t aware of that before reading the book and found it personally encouraging to realize that the trait is actually something quantifiable.

  17. It’s hard to narrow down, but I managed to select these as my top favorite books for 2022.

    • Flames of Hope (Wings of Fire #15)
    by Tui T. Sutherland
    I loved all 22 books connected to this series.

    • The Last Graduate (The Scholomance Series, Book 2)
    • The Golden Enclaves (The Scholomance Series, Book 3)
    by Naomi Novik
    [Last year’s list included
    A Deadly Education: A Novel (The Scholomance Series, Book 1)]

    • The Murderbot Diaries series
    by Martha Wells

    • The Shelterlings
    by Sarah Beth Durst

    • To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
    by Christopher Paolini

    And, I’ll add to my favorites for 2022 list a streaming series.

    • Dreamworks’ Rescue Riders
    (29 Netflix episodes followed by 24 Peacock episodes)

    These stories are based in the Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon universe, but unlike all of the other entries in that movie and TV franchise, which are stories about humans with sidekick dragons, Rescue Riders is about the dragons and their two human friends who can talk to them. (Precedent was set in Cressida Cowell’s original How to Train Your Dragon books where Hiccup could speak dragonese.)

    The characters are wonderful and the stories are fun with great foreshadowing of future episodes and callbacks to previous episodes. I loved them.

  18. Adrienne Nesiba says

    Matt Bird’s book looks interesting to me, I still enjoy writer’s books, even if I have not been very engaged in writing lately. Maybe it’s the “How to” aspect and maybe I’m still hopeful that I’ll write a book sometime, but still, I have been more worried about my health, and need time just to think. Thanks for putting these books out there!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I recommend starting with his first book Secrets of Story. One of my faves.

      • Adrienne Nesiba says

        Yes and I have that one, somewhere, I believe it’s in a tote bag in my car! For those times that I want to run out to my car in the middle of an overnight shift and look things up. I don’t know how the daytimers do it! but your research into personality types and archetypes is fascinating. I really do appreciate it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.