The Best Books of the Year: 2022

Best Books 2022

2022 has been a great year for settling in with a good book and escaping the world outside. We’ve reached that part of the year where we all start agonising over our ‘lists’  –best albums, best films, and of course best books. 

We in the Books team have looked back over the year’s releases and compiled a list of our favourite reads; the books we think are the best. With books set across Norway, Sri Lankan, Australia and more, these are the books that have transported us, and helped us escape the everyday. 

It’s by no means an exhaustive list. But, here, in no particular order, are the thirteen books that caught our eye this year and stuck with us…

Here Be Leviathans – Chris Flynn

Simon: It’s been two years since Mammoth made our end of year list, and Chris Flynn is back. This time with his short story collection Here Be Leviathans. It’s simply a joy of a collection; overflowing with imagination, humour and heart. Fresh from bringing mammoth skeletons to life, here Flynn treats us to stories narrated by grizzly bears, snarky artistic platypuses, as well as rundown motel rooms and plane seats. This collection will make you laugh, make you think, and maybe even cry – sometimes all in the same short story. At this point Flynn can pretty much take my money – I’m already looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next. (UQP Books)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

Emily: Bonnie Garmus’ debut novel Lessons in Chemistry has dominated the bestseller lists this year. A genre-defying novel about sexism, feminism, love, science and cooking, the intrepid heroine, Elizabeth Zott, has charmed her way onto bookshelves the world over (and will also soon charm her way onto television screens in the guise of Brie Larsen.) This book made me laugh, it made me cry—it is a shining example of everything a book should be and for this reason it’s my number one book of the year! (Penguin Australia)

Buy a copy HERE

Only a Monster – Vanessa Len

Jess: I genuinely don’t understand how there is not more hype about this book! I knew as soon as I put it down that it was going to be my favourite book of the year and despite being open to everything that came my way, nothing else has piqued it. I LOVED this book so much. It was fast-paced and dark, with amazing characters and an awesome concept. I am still dying for the second book in the trilogy: Never a Hero. I am watching Len’s Instagram like a hawk for the release date! (Allen & Unwin)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone – Benjamin Stevenson

Jemimah: One of the most enjoyable books I read in 2022 was Benjamin Stevenson‘s Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone. It’s an Agatha Christie-style whodunnit about a dysfunctional family stuck in an Australian ski resort. The action is narrated by Ernest, a member of said dysfunctional family, who is himself a writer of how-to guides on crime writing. The story is humorous and engaging, the mystery clever and well-constructed, and the characters highly flawed and quite endearing. An excellent and unique holiday read if you like mysteries, black comedies, and stories of dysfunctional families! (Penguin Australia)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

The Guncle – Steven Rowley

Lyn: Steven Rowley’s The Guncle is a great read; it’s funny, with loads of feel-good moments. It’s a novel that is full of charm, love, and quirky characters who are full of sass and heart. It made me laugh, smile and cry. From the rat race of Hollywood to the dripping sweat of Palm Springs, The Guncle will take you on an adventure that has unexpected moments. I look forward to watching the (eventual) movie! (Simon & Schuster Australia)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida – Shehan Karunatilaka

Simon: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is the second novel from Sri Lankan rockstar author Shehan Karunatilaka. The novel, which won this year’s Booker Prize, is a darkly humorous satire set amongst the Sri Lankan civil war. Something of a metaphysical whodunit, I found this novel to be an utterly compelling (and educational) romp with a chaotic cast of characters. At times confronting and challenging, any novel with death squads and dismembered bodies is going to be, it is also full of humour, love and most importantly life. (Profile Books)

Buy a copy HERE

Joan – Katherine J. Chen

Emily: Katherine J. Chen’s Joan, is a fictionalisation of the life of Joan of Arc. The book imagines much of the mythologised figure’s life in a way that gives her back some of her agency. It is a masterful novel, and comes endorsed by the late, great Hilary Mantel. This is a book for history lovers. It examines how people become symbols, and the danger of such an occurrence. It was truly delightful. (Hachette Australia)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

Daughter of the Moon Goddess – Sue Lynn Tan

Jess: The only good thing about me taking all year to get around to reading this book is that I devoured it just in time for the sequel to come out. At the time of writing, I have literally just picked up Heart of the Sun Warrior and am grateful to have only had to wait two weeks between finishing the first book and getting my ending. The worldbuilding is rich, the storytelling an incredible blend of what feels like traditional storytelling voice mixed with contemporary YA, and the covers are just *chefs kiss*. Do yourself a favour and go and read this awesome book. (Harper Collins Australia)

Buy a copy HERE

A Path of Thorns – A. G. Slatter

Jemimah: A favourite that is very on-brand for me: A.G. Slatter‘s A Path of Thorns is a Gothic twisted fairytale about a governess with a dark past arriving at a creepy mansion to care for two children. Things are clearly not right – with the family, with the woods around the estate, with the governess herself – from the very first page. This is a twisting, captivating dark fairy tale, full of intrigue and intriguing characters. (Titan)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

We Come With This Place – Debra Dank

Lyn: This book made me sit up, pay attention and absorb more of Australia’s past with a connection I hadn’t ever felt in a book before. I could feel Dank’s family’s pain and confusion as she was telling her stories of the Gudanji people. The book offers a real insight into our nation’s Indigenous culture, told through the memories of someone who was there. We Come With This Place should be included on everyone’s reading list. (Echo Publishing)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

The Reindeer Hunters – Lars Mytting

Simon: Lars Mytting‘s The Reindeer Hunters is, for me, historical fiction at its very best. It manages to be epic in scope (historically and thematically), whilst also focusing on those crucial smaller details and the mundanity of everyday village life. I loved my return to the mountain village of Butangen; and can’t wait to get back there again for the third and final book the trilogy and see what the world has in store for the Heknes. Beautifully written, and expertly translated by Deborah Dawkins, The Reindeer Hunters weaves myth and history to create a compelling story that jumps off the page.(Hachette Australia)

Read our full review HERE | Buy a copy HERE

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven – Juno Dawson

Jess: This book rocked! I just loved everything about it. A group of modern, middle-age witches, battling against dark prophecies as well as the patriarchy, racism, colonialism, ableism and everything that affects the modern world… this book made me so happy. It’s thoughtful and quirky and fun and terrifying all at once. And I loved how it presented so many different ways to be a woman without ever implying that any one way was better or worse than the others. It approached all its characters with compassion and understanding and god don’t we need more of that! (HarperCollins Australia)

Buy a copy HERE

The Brink – Holden Sheppard

Jemimah: The Brink is one of the most impactful books I read this year. It’s an unflinching, tension-filled story of a group of teenagers on their school leavers trip to an uninhabited island off the coast of Western Australia. It is told from the points of view of three of the characters on the trip, all with their own burdens and secrets to bear. As the week progresses things progressively become more unhinged, with the group splintering for different reasons and the sense of danger growing to flash point. It’s an excellent thriller, enjoyable both for YA and adult audiences alike. (Text Publishing)

Read our full review HERE | Read our interview with author Holden Sheppard HERE | Buy a copy HERE

Thanks to Emily Paull, Jess Gately, Jemimah Brewster and Lyn Harder for their contributions to this list. 

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.