Every year thousands of our readers vote for their favorite books of the year in the She Reads Awards. Find out more about the books that were nominated and see which book was voted the Best Book of 2022.
The winner of the Best Book of 2022 is . . .
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Set in 1960s America, this is a story about a woman who breaks the mold and becomes a nation-wide inspiration for women and girls everywhere. Elizabeth Zott is a scientist at Hastings Research Institute, where she meets and falls in love with the exceptional Calvin Evans. Refusing to live in his shadow, Elizabeth works hard to make her own discoveries that will revolutionize the science world. But when life rearranges the plans she made for her future, Elizabeth finds herself the host of a new cooking show, Supper at Six. As her show becomes more popular, Elizabeth encounters opposition from those who fear her powerful influence. Because Elizabeth isn’t only teaching women to cook—she’s teaching them to break barriers.
The nominees for Best Book of 2022 are:
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Back then in Lahore, Pakistan, Misbah was a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel. Now in Juniper, California, Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. That is, until The Fight. Sal is fighting hard keep the family motel running, as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, is working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him forever. When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth, and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.
Babel by R.F. Kuang
In 1828, Robin Swift is orphaned in Canton and brought to London by Professor Lovell, who has Robin trained in Latin, Ancient Greek and Chinese. The goal is for Robin to enroll in Oxford University’s Royal Institute of Translations, which is also known as Babel, and is not only the world’s center for translation, but also magic. Silver working is the art of acquiring the meaning in lost translation using enchanted silver bars. This practice has made the British unmatched in power, giving them the knowledge necessary for colonization. Robin realizes that as a Chinese boy, serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As he advances in his studies, he is caught between Babel and the Hermes society, a group whose mission it is to stop imperial expansion. When Britain seeks an unjust war with China, Robin is faced with difficult decisions and questions about what his role will be.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
When Eleanor Bennett passes away, she leaves a confusing and mysterious inheritance for the two children she leaves behind, Bryon and Benny. Along with a voice recording, Eleanor leaves a black cake that’s made from a family recipe which contains a long history. In the voice recording, Eleanor details a heartbreaking story about a young swimmer who flees her home island after being accused of murder. Eleanor reveals long-hidden secrets, including ones about a long-lost child. Byron and Benny’s beliefs of their family, their lineage, and themselves are challenged by their mother’s revelations. Will the estranged siblings be able to piece their once-close relationship back together, discover the truth about their mother’s history, and carry out her last request for them to “share the black cake when the time is right”? This evocative novel depicts a journey of a family forever changed by the actions and decisions of its matriarch.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Inspired by Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, Demon Copperhead addresses issues of institutional poverty and its impact on children in the American South. A boy is born in a trailer to a single teenage mother in the mountains of southern Appalachia. As he grows, he faces the tribulations of foster care, child labor, poor education, addiction, tragic romances, and devastating losses. Armed with a fiery wit and a talent for survival, Demon Copperhead is a symbol for lost children who remain resilient against all odds.
Finding Me by Viola Davis
In this honest and heartfelt memoir, renowned actress Viola Davis opens up about her personal life, her career, and the journey that helped her discover who she truly is. Starting in a small apartment in Rhode Island, Davis’s story follows the events that led her to the stage in New York City, where she found her voice and her purpose. Davis’s memoir is a poignant reflection centered around self-love and the power of expression, creativity, and authenticity.
Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
Olivia McAfee never thought she would end up back in her small New Hampshire hometown, but after fleeing her abusive husband, she didn’t have many other options. While Olivia and her son Asher adjust to their new lives, Lily Campanello and her mother also find a fresh start in Adams, New Hampshire. Then Lily and Asher cross paths at school, and it’s not long before they’ve fallen for each other. But one day, Olivia receives a phone call and discovers that Lily is dead and Asher is being questioned as a person of interest. Olivia doesn’t want to believe Asher had anything to do with Lily’s death, but she can’t deny that he has some of his father’s temper in him. And as the case unravels, Olivia begins to question how well she really knows her son.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
At eighteen years old, Tova Sullivan’s son, Erik, inexplicably vanished on a boat in Puget Sound. Now, thirty years later, Tova works the night shift cleaning the Sowell Bay Aquarium, trying to keep busy after her husband’s passing. There, she forms an unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus named Marcellus, who knows more than anyone can believe. Marcellus has solved the mystery of Tova’s son’s disappearance, and now he must find a way to reveal the truth to her before it’s too late. A heartwarming tale about grief, captivity, friendship, and remarkably bright creatures, this novel is sure to leave readers touched and longing for their own cephalopod companion.
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
In this dual timeline story, Civil Townsend hopes to make a difference in her community by working as a nurse at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic in 1970s Alabama and serving those desperately in need of care. But when one of her first jobs involves putting 11 and 13-year-old girls on birth control when neither girl has even kissed a boy, Civil is compelled to fight this injustice. Years later, Dr. Townsend is ready to retire but these stories from her past refuse to stay hidden.
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye tells the story of Mila Pavlichenko, a Russian bookworm who ultimately becomes the world’s deadliest female sniper, nicknamed “Lady Death”. Following her 300th kill, news of her shooting prowess catapults her into the spotlight, and she is sent on a goodwill tour to the United States where she befriends First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. But when two enemies unite to destroy her, Mila finds herself caught up in a deadly struggle to survive.
The Maid by Nita Prose
The Maid is a riveting and heartwarming story about growth, acceptance, and the important things that unite us. When Molly Gray takes a job at a fancy hotel, she feels it’s a great fit for her. As someone who struggles with social cues and often misunderstands others, she enjoys the quiet routine of cleaning and organizing each room after a guest’s stay. But when a wealthy man named Charles Black is found dead in his bed, Molly’s peculiar behavior lands her at the top of the suspect list. Now Molly must find out the truth of what happened to Mr. Black before it’s too late.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Sadie Green and Sam Masur are catapulted into stardom when they create a blockbuster called Ichigo. At twenty-four, Sam and Sadie are rich and successful, known for their brilliant work in the film industry. But things take a turn for the worse when betrayals and creative ambitions stand in the way of the life they just started to build. Their story takes place over thirty years, from Massachusetts to California, and explores notions of identity, disability, failure, redemption, and connection.