Amazon announced its picks for 2022’s Best Books of the Year So Far, selecting Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel Remarkably Bright Creatures—cited by Amazon Editors as “a novel that delivers a message about love and loss that’s poignant, charming, and irresistible”—as the No. 1 selection. The other top picks are Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know, a standout memoir about healing from complex trauma, and Sabaa Tahir’s All My Rage, a tragic and poignant young adult novel examining the complexities of young and old love. In the children’s books category, Christopher Denise’s picture book Knight Owl tops the list, featuring wordplay and optimism in a story about how bravery, cleverness, and friendship can rule over brawn.
Throughout the year, Amazon Books Editors pore over thousands of pages and hundreds of books to determine the Best Books of the Month, Best Books of the Year So Far, and Best Books of the Year, discussing and debating new releases across various categories. The Editors are passionate about uniting readers with their next favorite read.
After reading titles released from January through June 2022, Amazon Books Editors selected the overall top 20 Best Books of the Year So Far, as well as the top 20 in popular categories like literary fiction, mystery and thrillers, romance, history, biographies and memoirs, cookbooks, and children’s books. Across these lists, customers can find reads that are perfect for summer reading—whether you’re looking for serious nonfiction, a rom-com, a gripping psychological thriller, or something in between.
“Selecting this midyear list is one of the most fun parts of the editorial team’s job,” said Sarah Gelman, Amazon Books editorial director. “You haven’t seen passion until you watch a group of book lovers argue for their favorite books to be shared with customers! This year, fiction is having a real moment as readers look for an escape, and summer is the perfect time to do that.”
After being told Remarkably Bright Creatures was Amazon Books’ top pick for the first half of 2022, Van Pelt said: “I’m beyond thrilled to be Amazon’s top pick of the year so far! I never imagined my little octopus story would touch so many people, and hearing that readers are sharing it with loved ones across generations makes my heart so happy.”
“We all fell in love with Shelby Van Pelt’s stunning debut, Remarkably Bright Creatures,” Gelman said. “This novel is wholly original and it somehow manages to be all the things at once: sweet, poignant, funny, and wise. I still miss these characters, but particularly the wise octopus at the center of the story.”
Here are the Amazon Books Editors’ Top 10 picks of 2022 so far, and their reviews for what made each book stand out:
1. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt:
We all loved this story of an unlikely friendship that begins at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, between a misanthropic octopus named Marcellus, and a widowed staffer named Tova. The grumpy invertebrate turns detective to solve a mystery for Tova, as he—and the novel—deliver a message about love and loss that’s poignant, charming, and irresistible. –Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor
2. What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo:
There is no dearth of books on trauma in the marketplace right now, so it’s no easy feat standing out. But What My Bones Know does. A deep dive into the scourge of complex PTSD, this stirring memoir serves as a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit, no matter what any of us is struggling with in life. – Erin Kodicek, Amazon Editor
3. All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir:
Dreams take a toll on the dreamer, and so it is for Misbah, Toufiq, and their teenage son Salahudin. As a young couple’s fresh start turns sour, Tahir exposes how relationships can burn white-hot with love—and anger. Flipping between past and present, this brilliant novel about immigrants, family, first love, and forgiveness, is raw, real, and unstoppable. – Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
4. The Maid by Nita Prose:
This story of a quirky, endearing hotel maid who discovers a dead guest—and nearly ends up accused of his murder—was another novel that had us all raving about its charms. This is both a solid mystery and a sweet, amusing ode to giving people a chance to bloom where they’re planted. – Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor
5. River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard:
Full of adventure, ambushes, false starts, and the pursuit of conquest, River of the Gods tells the story of three explorers—Richard Francis Burton, John Hanning Speke, and Sidi Mubarak Bombay—who set out to discover the origins of the Nile. Using diary entries and letters, Millard thrusts you into the jungle with these larger-than-life characters, while deftly navigating the tangled reality of colonial exploitation…A thrill of a ride. – Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
6. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus:
Elizabeth Zott stumbles into motherhood, and success as a TV cooking host, when she’s blocked from becoming a scientist—inspiring a generation of women who have been written-off in 1960s America. This satisfying—and delightful—read is for anyone who has felt underestimated, or held back due to fear of what others may think. – Lindsay Powers, Amazon Editor
7. Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow:
This knockout novel follows three generations of unforgettable Black women as they gather strength from one another’s fortitude, humor, and care amidst the heartbreak, racism, and violence of Memphis. With music sprinkled throughout the novel, ‘50s songs become the soundtrack to falling in love with these women who are bold, brash, hurting, and hopeful. – Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
8. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel:
If you’re sick of the pandemic and don’t like science fiction, guess what? You’re still going to love Emily St. John Mandel’s beautiful, absorbing novel that involves science fiction and a pandemic. It is a lyrical and profound page turner. – Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor
9. Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith:
An intoxicating summer read of love, lust, and second chances. Vincent has left her lying American husband for the art-and-music-filled streets of Paris. As she begins to uncover more about her husband’s deceit, she also begins to fall hard for a student in her class. Smart, empowering, and, like Leesa Cross-Smith’s other books, a tribute to the beauty of all the small moments that make life worth living. – Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
10. Hello, Molly!: A Memoir by Molly Shannon:
Shannon’s “break-the-rules, everything-is-an-adventure, people-are-mostly-good mentality” is infectious and ever-present in the pages of Hello, Molly!. Opening up about a childhood tragedy, a complicated paternal relationship, and the hilarity of Hollywood, this inspiring, optimistic, and very funny memoir is as original and delightful as the Saturday Night Live characters Shannon is famous for. – Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
To celebrate their appearances on the annual list of Best Books of the Year So Far, three of the authors— Van Pelt, Foo, and Tahir—will appear on the Amazon Live Author Live series on June 15 at 1:30 p.m. PDT to discuss their titles, their writing processes, and more. Viewers can watch, listen, and join the conversation by visiting Amazon Live.
To view the complete list of the Best Books of the Year So Far, covering children’s, romance, science, mysteries, business, history, and more, visit www.amazon.com/bestbookssofar.
For more coverage of the books featured on the Best Books of the Year So Far list, as well as insightful reviews on new books, author interviews, and hand-curated roundups in popular categories, visit the Amazon Book Review at www.amazon.com/amazonbookreview. You can also follow the Amazon Book Editors’ recommendations and conversations on Amazon Books’ Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.