Please Judge These Books: Our Favorite Books of 2022Jennifer Epping
The golden rule of reading is “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and even though I’m not in this instance, it would lead to the same decision: buy it, read it, love it. This last year has been filled with beautiful book after beautiful book and entertaining storyline after entertaining storyline. That’s the hope of every year, and 2022 didn’t disappoint.
1. The First to Die At the End by Adam Silvera is the prequel to They Both Die At the End. The night before Death-Cast goes live, two boys are waiting to hear their death date: Orion Pagan and Valentino Prince. Orion has a serious heart condition and Valentino’s twin sister nearly died in a car accident and both want to know what’s coming and when. These two meet and immediately have a strong connection, but one gets the call from Death-Cast and one doesn’t. They can’t predict the end of the day, but they know they want to spend it together, even if it means their goodbye will be heartbreaking.
2. A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin is the first of two YA fantasy books. This book sends a tea-maker named Ning to the capital city to take part in an intense magical competition that could cure and save the life of her sister, Shu. After killing her mother with a tea she brewed, Ning is committed to fixing what she can. But through all the politics, temptations, and back-stabbing of the competition, Ning might be the one who’s in danger of losing her life.
3. We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds debates whether it’s more important to know the truth or keep the peace. Avery Anderson is forced to move in with her family to take care of their grandma who is terminally ill and she’s not too thrilled about it. There’s tension in their family and being together reveals past drama they refuse to discuss. Avery meets a couple of friends who both hold interests to Avery: Simone Cole who Avery crushes on next door, and Jade Oliver who is a part of the town’s most prominent family with an unsolved murder in their past. As they get to know each other, the town’s racist history comes to light and Avery will have to make a hard decision between choosing peace or knowing the truth.
4. She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick centers on Alex Blackwood and Molly Parker, teen girls who have crushes on other girls. Alex and Molly's only goal is to prove to their crushes they deserve commitment. Alex wants to win back her ex who thinks she’s a selfish flirt. Molly has a deep, secret crush on Cora Myers, someone she’s never talked to. Alex commits to helping Molly get her dream girl, which will prove to her ex that she’s not who she says. As the two venture together on a five-step plan to get their girls to fall for them, they both begin to wonder if they’re the ones falling… for each other.
5. See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon tells the story of Barrett Bloom, who has had a hard start to college with lots of unfortunate events— but nothing will top setting a frat house on fire on September 21st. She panics and flees the scene for her dorm, where her keys are gone. She settles in her common room and wakes up the next day… but it’s still September 21st and the fire never happened. She finds out quickly that the annoying guy from Physics has been stuck repeating the same day for months, and they form a relationship to find a way out. Through this experiment, they wonder what will happen to their relationship after they’ve fixed the time loop?
6. Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee centers on Savannah Howard. She has worked her whole high school career to get into an Ivy-League Historical Black College and University, (she’s done it!) and has just started at Wooddale University. Almost upon dropping her duffle bag in her dorm, microaggressions stemming from racism and elitism are occurring. Vandalism is happening around campus in the form of blackface on a statue and the prime suspect is Wooddale’s most popular student and son of the most prominent local family. Soon Savannah is debating revealing Wooddale’s racist history, but she can’t decide if she should reveal it, or keep her mouth shut to keep her full-ride and future intact.
7. How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislynn Brophy centeres on Shay Johnson, a junior at her magical high school and hopes to obtain the college scholarship to send her to her dream school for witchcraft. To do this, she has to gain the lead role and impress the drama teacher Mr. B. After she gets one of the lead roles, she begins to understand that Mr. B gives some students inappropriate and unwanted attention when they’re in the cast of his production. What should Shay do? Speak up, or stay quiet and get his recommendation for the college scholarship?
8. Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle is all about love. Prince Jones is the seventeen-year-old host of a popular love radio show, dishing out love advice to his listeners, but he dreams not only about being a DJ, but also of falling in love even though life is complicated and his responsibilities are plentiful at home. Dani Ford is only focused on acing senior year and getting into college in New York City to become a writer. Prince crushes on Dani, but she’s too focused and not interested in him distracting her from her goals. She gives Prince three dates to convince her he’s worth falling for, or she’s out, but can the love DJ take his own advice and make a match for himself?
9. Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon is a fun and adventure-filled story for the ages. When Sunny G’s brother died, he left him his notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions. The first one being huge for his Sikh culture: to stop wearing his turban, cut off his hair, and shave his beard. He also decides to prioritize prom over his band and best friend, and during prom a girl who likes to make rash decisions too steals Sunny’s notebook and an adventure begins, trying to fill the pages with amazing, rash, romantic, and life-changing decisions.
10. No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado follows an average, quiet, and shy teenage girl named Kat Sanchez who takes on the persona of a beautiful, popular, and viral social media star named Max Monroe (no one knows it’s all fake). Max posts giving advice, shares gorgeous pictures, and is always networking with fans, who adore her. When a friendship Max has with a follower becomes actual friendship worthy—or more—Max realizes keeping up the facade will keep this friendship blooming. Then one of her posts goes viral and the real person who Max has been stealing photos from sees it and declares Max’s account as fake. Her entire world comes crashing down around her. This prompts Kat to unravel the web of lies she has created, but fears she might have hurt the one true friend—or more—she will ever have.
Watch Jennifer discuss the books from this list here!
Jennifer Epping is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She has a passion for reading, writing, and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her ninth year teaching. Epping graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.