Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

January 13, 2023

The Best Books I Read in 2022.

       In 2022, I was able to read 45 books! That's the most I've read since 2019, when it was one of my resolutions to read 52 books (a book a week). I was shooting for 40 this year, but all of the time that I spent sick last summer gave me a ton of time to get ahead on reading, and I knocked out some extra titles thanks to that. 

       I would say that the majority of books that I read I rate at three or four stars. I am pretty picky with what books I will give my coveted five-star rating to. 2022 brought me a ton of three star reads, but also eight stand-out books that got my five-star rating! Here were my favorite books of the year:

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Best Fiction Books of 2022:

*Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand - I've been a longtime fan of Elin Hilderbrand. Her books are usually four star reads for me! But a few of her titles are just literary perfection, and this was one of them. Golden Girl is about a Nantucket author named Vivian Howe (I'm guessing this character is based on Elin herself?) who is unfortunately killed at the start of the book in a tragic accident. Golden Girl follows Vivian getting the chance to check up on her adult children and follow their lives in the months following her death. It also follows the cops working to figure out how the accident happened that killed Vivian, and who was really responsible. It was a beautiful novel, and the characters really came alive! 

*Every Summer After by Carley Fortune - Before I read this one, I was shocked to see that just about everyone that I'm friends with on Goodreads had given it five-stars. Could it really be that good of a novel? I was skeptical going into it. The answer is yes, this book is worth all the hype it's getting! It follows Percy and Sam's childhood friendship turned high school first love / romance over the course of several summers. The book alternates between a long-awaited reunion between Percy and Sam in the present day as adults, and their childhood and high school summer memories. This book reads like a movie. I really hope that it is eventually picked up as a screenplay or limited Netflix series or something! It's a beautiful story. 

*The Siren by Katherine St. John - My absolute favorite book of 2023! I blew through this one and could not put it down. The Siren is about a movie being filmed on a Caribbean Island, and the story is told through three female characters: the lead in the movie, one of the producers, and the lead actress's personal assistant. As the story unravels as the movie starts shooting, it turns out that all three of the women may just have a common enemy. And then things get really wild!! (I read another Katherine St. John book called The Vicious Circle this year. I didn't love The Vicious Circle and found the story kind of disjointed and the ending pretty predictable. But I can't say enough good things about The Siren!!)

Best Non-Fiction Books of 2022:

*Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush - I love anything to do with the Bushes. (I blame part of that on the fact that their summer home is in the town next to my hometown in Maine!) Laura Bush's memoir was one of my favorite five-star reads from a few years ago. I was excited to finally read Jenna and Barabara's book about their strong bond as sisters, and some of the notable events in their personal lives. This was an easy read, and I just loved it. 

*The Next American City: The Big Promise of Our Midsize Metros by Mick Cornett - Not my usual type of read, but I loved this book! I found it on display at my local library last year, and the title caught my eye. Virginia Beach/Norfolk (where I now live) are considered midsize metro areas, so this intrigued me. It's written by a former mayor of Oklahoma City, and he details how he turned around economic and cultural opportunities in Oklahoma City during his time in office. He also tells the stories of many other local politicians around the country who are making life better in their own midsize cities. Like I said, not my typical type of read! But I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I also now really want to visit Oklahoma City, haha! 

*I'll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House by Stephanie Grisham - An absolutely fascinating look into what it was like to work in The White House during the Trump administration. I don't really like to talk about politics too much on my blog, but I'll just say that I think this book was incredibly fascinating and well-written! Very juicy at parts too. 

*Live Your Life: My Story of Loving and Losing Nick Cordero by Amanda Kloots - I've been following Amanda and her sister Anna for the past couple years on Instagram. Amanda shot to fame online in 2020 after her late husband, Broadway star Nick Cordero, became one of the first 40-somethings to die from a bad case of Covid. She documented everything going on with Nick in real-time on Instagram, in a very unfiltered way. This book details every bit of her and Nick's experiences in 2020. It is heartbreaking at times but also such a beautifully written story. I have so much respect for Amanda and her strength after reading her book! Amanda's sister Anna, who helped Amanda write this book, is releasing her own memoir in 2023 that I'm so excited for. 

*I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy - I really enjoy reading celebrity memoirs, and as soon as Jennette McCurdy's book started getting a lot of buzz, I knew I wanted to read it. Jennette walks readers through all of the big and small moments about growing up as a child actress with an abusive parent. This book is so raw and real, and I'm amazed at the way that adult Jennette can write so well about painful moments from her past. It is definitely not a feel-good book, but there are moments of dark comedy throughout. I absolutely loved it. With that said- there are a lot of depictions of eating disorders and parental abuse in this book, so if that could be triggering to you, I'm not sure I'd recommend reading. 

     A sweet personal note on this book- it was selling out nationwide this summer when it was published due to all of the buzz around it. I was randomly mentioning to Ryan one day about it and how much I'd like to reach it, but I'd probably have to wait months and months at the library. He tracked down a copy and gave it to me as one of my birthday gifts! So sweet. 😊

    As always, you can follow me on Goodreads! I track everything I read there. I'd love to hear about your favorite books of 2022!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 


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