Newsweek Staffers' Favorite Books of 2022 for Everyone on Your Gift List

Is it better to give or to receive? With the holidays almost upon us and long gift lists waiting to be completed, we wanted to recommend the simple pleasure of a book. And remember, sometimes taking the time to indulge yourself and escape in a good book is really the best way to keep your spirits high. Here to help, Newsweek staff have gathered together to recommend the perfect reading material for anyone on your gift list—yourself included!—with a roundup of our own favorite books from the past year. Our offerings run the gamut from rom-coms to true-crime, politics to music, investigative journalism to humor and more. Find the ideal story to give or to add to your own wishlist!

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Man reads book on crowded train. Malte Mueller/Getty

Fiction

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Atria Books

The Appeal
By Janice Hallett |Atria Books | $27.99

An extraordinary debut, this crime novel immediately stands out due to its bold style—in the form of emails and letters. Based in rural U.K. with an amateur dramatics society at its core, multiple conspiracies running rampant and pretty much everyone up to no good, it hooked me from the first page.
▸ James Brinsford, Pop Culture & Sports Reporter

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Berkley

Book Lovers
By Emily Henry | Berkley | $27

In Book Lovers, Emily Henry both embraces and breaks the classic rom-com mold with a heroine who navigates romantic and familial love in the most beautiful way, but doesn't have to change what makes her strong, ambitious and unique in order to get there. This novel is gripping, hilarious and touching on every page.
▸ Zoe Strozewski, Politics Reporter

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May Leitz/BookBaby

Fluids
By May Leitz | BookBaby | $16

This novel is a brutal, gory, violent book for fans of extreme horror. It follows two women who, as the author describes, "should not be together," as they go on a bloody road trip. Though the book is a brief 195 pages, the story sticks with the reader in a way that can't be washed off.
▸ Matt Keeley, Night Trends Editor

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Wednesday Books

I Kissed Shara Wheeler
By Casey McQuiston | Wednesday Books | $19.99

This young adult novel (enjoyable for all ages!) melds a fun mystery with an LGBTQ+ rom-com in a delightful, heartwarming, accessible-for-all read. I Kissed Shara Wheeler features a cast of colorful, lovable and nuanced characters and underscores how coming of age in a welcoming environment lets kids flourish. It made me smile and think back on how a book like this could have changed my whole life when I was 17. Representation matters!
▸ Kristen McNicholas, Photo Editor

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Little, Brown

Less Is Lost
By Andrew Sean Greer | Little, Brown | $31

Arthur Less is the ordinary guy that everyone can root for. Following him on his journeys and as he finds love is both calming and reassuring. A wonderful tale about living a fulfilling life without huge fireworks moments. Perfect for anyone who wants to believe an ordinary life can be extraordinary.
▸ Jenni Fink, Senior Editor, National News

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Doubleday

Lessons in Chemistry
By Bonnie Garmus | Doubleday | $29

Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant scientist trying to make it in a man's world in the 1960s. Out of a job when she gets pregnant, she uses her talent for chemistry to land herself in the unlikeliest of places—as the beloved host of Supper at Six, an unusual cooking show with a distinctly feminist point of view. Chock-full of historical details and endearing characters, you'll cheer on Zott and her distinctive show sign-off: "Children, set the table. Your mother needs a moment to herself."
▸ Meredith Wolf Schizer, Senior Editor

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Ballantine Books

The Maid
By Nita Prose | Ballantine Books | $27

This novel about a hotel maid who discovers a dead guest cuts across the thriller and mystery genres with a blade of comedy. The building tension will keep you turning the pages, but above all, it's hard not to be instantly invested in the quirky main character; most readers will find her oddities relatable in some form.
▸ Tyler Hayes, Reviews Writer

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Knopf

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
By Gabrielle Zevin | Knopf | $28

Zevin manages to pull even non-gamers into this brilliant story about the complexities of being human. Following the decades-long relationship between Sadie and Sam, the book offers a world where estranged friends can always reunite.
▸ Katherine Fung, Politics Staff Writer

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Avid Readers Press/Simon & Schuster

Vladimir
By Julia May Jonas | Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster | $27

A subversive and modern take on Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, Vladimir follows a university English teacher whose life has been upended by her husband's sexual misconduct. While navigating the fallout, she finds herself growing more and more obsessed with a newly hired, much younger professor. Riveting and artfully rendered, Jonas' debut novel is a timely look at academic culture and shifting power dynamics that will leave you both laughing and gasping.
▸ Meghan Gunn, Staff Writer

Nonfiction

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Flatiron Books

All the Women in My Brain: And Other Concerns
By Betty Gilpin | Flatiron Books | $28.99

In such a true and hilarious testament to what it's like to be a woman, the multifaceted ways that we project ourselves for society's view come to life in this collection of essays that are both devilishly transparent and ruthlessly hilarious. Betty Gilpin is an icon, and her book had me chortling like an ugly witch on my couch, and then crying because it was sometimes all too real.
▸ Emma Mayer, Culture Writer

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Celadon Books

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels
By Paul Pringle | Celadon Books | $29.99

I love this book because it presents careful reporting with a page-turning pace. The subject matter doesn't need any sensationalization to be gripping—it is nonfiction that reads like a messy soap opera with characters I wouldn't believe existed if they weren't real. And they're very real. By the end, you've been taken on a well-guided bender in a dangerous world brought to light by an expert reporter.
▸ Jason Nuckolls, Publishing Editor

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Random House

Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir
By Bob Odenkirk | Random House | $28

This memoir presents a different side of the Bob Odenkirk than the one the world has known since his days writing
on SNL or performing in Mr. Show and in the Breaking Bad universe. Although pigeonholed, partly of his own accord, he was able to use the lessons he learned—in the entertainment business and in life—to change his trajectory. Very uplifting, yet comedic.
▸ Nick Mordowanec, Politics Writer

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Simon & Schuster

Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain
By Charles Leerhsen | Simon & Schuster | $28.99

Why would a man with the best job in the world want to kill himself? Thousands of Anthony Bourdain fans, shocked by the food and travel writer's suicide on June 8, 2018, wondered what they had missed or misunderstood about their hero. Charles Leerhsen's biography vividly portrays a restless man whose immense charm and talent built what appeared to be an enviable life but failed to satisfy his own emotional hunger. Leerhsen, a former Newsweek and Sports Illustrated editor, has also written eye-opening biographies of Ty Cobb and Butch Cassidy.
▸ Nancy Cooper, Global Editor in Chief

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Simon & Schuster

I'm Glad My Mom Died
By Jennette McCurdy | Simon & Schuster | $27.99

This book deserves all the hype it's gotten
and more. It is an unflinching, clever and painfully honest examination of impossibly complex family dynamics, childhood stardom, trauma and healing. I suggest the audiobook as well as a printed copy; hearing McCurdy read the book herself offers a unique experience that both riveted and touched me deeply.
▸ Mary Walrath-Holdridge, Senior Editor, Trends

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Orion

Notes on Heartbreak
By Annie Lord | Trapeze | £16.99

A heart-wrenching but blisteringly honest journey through the author's unexpected breakup with her long-term partner and the lessons she learned about herself and being alone during her healing process. It was like someone had scooped out my brain and slapped it onto the page at times, and it helped me get through a breakup of my own.
▸ Jess Thomson, Science Reporter

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Hodder & Stoughton

A Royal Life
By HRH The Duke of Kent & Hugo Vickers | Hodder & Stoughton | $36.99

A unique insight into the life of a working royal during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Duke was the queen's first cousin and friend, living at Kensington Palace since the 1960s. In his co-authored memoir, he discusses for the first time the realities of royal life, including personal anecdotes from behind palace doors.
▸ James Crawford-Smith, Royal Reporter

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Simon & Schuster

Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom
By Andy Nagorski | Simon & Schuster | $28.99

I thought I'd heard all the stories about Sigmund Freud until I got wind of Andy Nagorski's new book. Andy, a brilliant former Newsweek foreign correspondent and historian, tells the dramatic story of how Freud's friends in Vienna kept him from falling into the hands of the approaching Nazis. To do that, they had to turn the psychological tables on the master himself, who apparently was in denial about the peril he was in.
▸ Fred Guterl, Special Projects Editor

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Roc Lit 101

Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop
By Danyel Smith | Roc Lit 101 | $28

It is generally recognized that Black musicians historically laid the groundwork for rock and roll. Especially in the history of pop music, Black female artists have always led the way, according to veteran journalist Danyel Smith's excellent and poignant book—part history lesson and part memoir. With chapters devoted to Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Dionne Warwick and others, Smith describes how these legendary and talented acts not only experienced success but also faced personal and professional obstacles, including racism and sexism. Without these pioneers, there would be no superstars like Beyoncé, Lizzo, Janelle Monae, Rhianna and Megan Thee Stallion.
▸ David Chiu, Associate Editor

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers
By Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | $35

This memoir by the daughter of iconic Broadway composer Richard Rodgers—and a composer in her own right—is destined to become a classic for theater and movie fans. Throughout most of the latter half of the 20th century, Mary had a front-row seat for backstage work of Broadway, its habitués and sons of habitués. She shares these stories in a breezy, seemingly unedited style that makes Shy's 460 pages fly by.
▸ Joe Westerfield, Publishing Editor

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Harper

Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy
By Jamie Raskin | Harper | $27.99

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, gives a chilling and detailed behind-the-scenes look at the events of January 6, which occurred while he was still reeling from the death of his beloved son. I still think about this book months after reading it, wondering how our country could fall into such chaos. Raskin's heartache over losing his son also sticks with me on many levels. He's honest and vulnerable in talking about the emotions surrounding his grief—not only for his son, but for his country.
▸ Jackie Winchester, Associate Editor

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Riverhead Books

What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
By Randall Munroe | Riverhead Books | $30

A dense litany of thoroughly researched explanations of intensely silly hypotheticals. Perfect if you enjoy it when stuffy figures of authority crack a smile. Or if you like it when black holes form. That happens a lot.
▸ Thomas Kika, Weekend Staff Reporter

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Giroux

Yoga
By Emmanuel Carrère | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | $28

It was supposed to be an upbeat guide about one of the French author's passions. Instead, the book becomes a downward spiral into Carrère's other passion—himself. Beginning with a 10-day silent retreat, it is interrupted by the Charlie Hebdo attack. It's not the last you'll hear about yoga in the book, but you'd be forgiven for thinking so. It becomes a fascinating story that explores with equal precision the movements of your nostrils during meditation, the use of shock therapy to treat his clinical depression or the plight of refugees in a camp on a Greek island—and how it all matters.
▸ Yannick Demoustier, Senior Sub-Editor