10 Books I read in 2022 that brought me JOY

Once again, I read over 100 books last year… (I promise I’m TRYING to find a better balance of my life activities but reading is just SO good and SO comforting!) Some years, I read a lot but find myself in a bit of a slump for enjoying what I’m reading. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case in 2022- I read a lot of great books last year. These are my top 10 books that brought me joy… (not necessarily my highest rated or objectively the best books, though there is definitely some cross over)

Moira’s Pen by Megan Whalen Turner: I can’t seem to go a year without recommending The Thief series.. and this is like a little gem of bonus material related to that. (DO NOT read this book until you have read the main series.) Some of the short stories I had read already and others were new. The historical inspiration sections were my favorite and made me really long to travel to the Mediterranean again.

A Race Like No Other by Liz Robbins: This book brought me so much joy as I trained for the New York City Marathon! It was recommended to me by about half a dozen runners who had done the race. It chronicles the race mile by mile- splitting the focus between the elite athletes and everyday athletes during a particular year of the race. For me, though, the thing that brought me the most joy was reading about the people who organize the race, the volunteers, the way the athletes fed off the crowd. All of that definitely impacted how I experienced race day and I am excited to revisit this book in a couple years with a sense of nostalgia instead of anticipation.

Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien: Speaking of nostalgia… revisiting this classic was a highlight of my reading year. I read it in the thick of marathon training and thinking about Frodo and Sam and friends walking all those miles on their quest motivated my inner nerd to get my own many miles done each week. This book has deep, lush, gorgeous descriptions that Tolkien is known for, but that also means the pace is much slower than most books written now, so be prepared if you haven’t attempted Lord of the Rings before… also, I could do without Tom Bombadil and would totally understand if you skipped that whole chapter… oI said it. I’m not entertaining arguments on this subject so move along is for some strange reason you disagree…though I did enjoy the creepy scene at the Barrow Downs which I suppose is not possible without him but seriously… does not make the trade off worth it.

Good Enough- 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie: This is a series of devotions and reflections that are perfect for overwhelmed parents, recovering perfectionists, or basically any human that needs to let go  and embrace good enough. They are short and sweet and cover a range of topics. I felt the need to share several throughout my time reading it, and really savored my time with this.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry: This was just a light, fluffy, hits all the rom-com notes you love with some extra literary joy thrown in type of book that I really needed amidst some of the heavier topics I read this past year. It both embraces all the Hallmark movie tropes and also plays off of them. Nothing unexpected but I found the whole book delightful nonetheless because sometimes nothing unexpected is exactly what I need.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr: Did I bury the lead putting my absolute favorite book of the year down here? Maybe. This book really spoke to one of my core identities as a storyteller. It brought me to tears- deep, joyful tears and also some sad ones. To say anymore feels like it would be giving things away, but I will warn it took me a bit of time to get into it. Once it picked up I couldn’t put it down.

The Ability to Endure by Michael Chitwood: This book is very special to me as I received it at our Team World Vision gift exchange run in 2021 and then read it over spring break in 2022 just after I decided to say yes to running the NYC Marathon with World Vision. This book is the story of Team World Vision founder and how he developed a heart for serving the poor and also how he kept feeling called to more and more extreme acts of endurance. It was very moving but throughout it all there was a deep sense of saying YES to the unknown and stepping out in HOPE.

Raising Prayerful Kids BY Sarah Holmstrom and Stephanie Thurling: Full Disclosure- my friend is one of the co-authors of this book. I am SO proud of her because this book is so sweet and thoughtful and has a ton of fun ways to pray as a family as well as a ton of grace for parents who feel overwhelmed with the idea of adding even one more thing into their busy day to day lives. I plan on revisiting this book several times in 2023 and probably many years beyond that!

How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur: Did you enjoy The Good Place? If yes, you need to read this book. If no, maybe skip. If you haven’t watched The Good Place pause everything and go find where to stream it. This book is basically a deeper dive on the philosophies and ethics covered in that show with some additional examples from the author/show creator’s life. It is filled with warmth and humor and optimism I strive to maintain but don’t seem to come to as naturally as Mike Schur does. One of the few books I actually got a hard copy of to keep in our precious little room left on our bookshelves, so that is saying something about how often I plan to revisit it!

Run Fast, Eat Slow by Shane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky: Everything else on this list brought me joy from reading those books… this brought me joy from eating my way through many of the recipes! I actually ended up renting the whole series of cookbooks and would have purchased at least one of them if I weren’t vegetarian, knocking out about half the recipe. Still, almost every single recipe I tried from these books has been a winner. They are delicious, even my picky kids eat most of them, and they helped me feel ready to run… I honestly need to revisit them this year because my meal planning and prep took a nosedive after the marathon and I am ready to feel energized again!

So there you go! Ten recommendations- I hope if you end up reading any of these books they bring you a bit of the joy they brought me in 2022. I’m planning to cut back a bit on reading this year, but would love to hear if you have any recommendations I should add to my To Be Read list.


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