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Each month, Amazon book editors publish a list of their favorite books that came out that month. At the end of the year, this team of nine editors draws from these lists, along with any missed books, to choose their best books of the year. They all come from different backgrounds, including authors as well as former booksellers and former editors at publishers, but all have spent their careers in the book world. After entering their individual favorites of the year into a spreadsheet and presenting them to their fellow editors, they discuss their choices and finally rank their picks for the year. These totals are included in the Amazon Book Editors list of the best books of the year.
I spoke to Amazon Books Editor-in-Chief Sarah Gelman about how this list is made and what trends she’s noticed in publishing this year. Gelman explained that this list is based solely on book editors’ love, without considering sales figures or customer ratings — especially since they usually read these books long before the publication date. They particularly look for books that are “cross-genre”: readers will love them, even if it’s not a genre/format/subject they typically read about. The editors also take diversity into account and check that the list includes representation of marginalized groups—including characters of color and neurodivergence—both in terms of author and content.
One trend Gelman has noticed in publishing this year, particularly in the top ten, is books that focus on friendship — as opposed to those about romantic relationships — particularly books that feature messy, complicated relationships with friends and family . In Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, the main character points out that “lovers are common” but “true associates in this life are rare”. Our Missing Hearts and Carrie Soto Returns are two other books on the list that focus on friendships and parent-child relationships. Gelman added that Kevin Wilson’s Now Is Not the Time to Panic, a favorite of hers that wasn’t on the list, is another book that explores a deep friendship between a man and a woman.
While this list is a combination of all of the editors’ top picks, Gelman loves each of the top five and particularly recommends Solito, a memoir about a child making a 3,000-mile trip from El Salvador to the United States alone, with Our Missing to combine Hearts, a novel about a son who searches for his missing mother in the USA. Gelman said of Solito, “Calling something ‘required reading’ sounds boring, but this is a book that people need to read.”
Here are the Amazon Books editors’ picks for the top ten books of 2022.
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#1 Best Book of the Year:
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
“After devouring this novel, you will leave with a spring in your step, a full heart, and a vivid feeling that this is one of the finest books on friendship – in all its chaotic complexity and splendor – you have ever read. That’s why we voted it the best book of 2022. Gabrielle Zevin has written a novel perfect for this moment when we crave connection and hope for what we need.” – Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
#2 Best Book of the Year:
Solito: A Memoir by Javier Zamora
“Neil Gaiman once said, ‘Literature gives us empathy … gives us the gift of seeing through the world [other people’s] Eyes.’ Solito is one of those rare non-fiction books that achieves the same thing and puts a human face on the immigration debate — that of a nine-year-old child making a harrowing journey from South America to the United States, and the found family that facilitates his journey. A heartbreaking, heartexpanding memoir.” – Erin Kodicek, Amazon Editor
#3 Best Book of the Year:
Stolen Focus: Why you can’t pay attention and how you can think deeply again by Johann Hari
“We can’t stop talking about Stolen Focus. It is important and fascinating to examine why we, as individuals and as a collective, have lost our attention spans. Suffice it to say, Hari’s three-month tech detox and its results will instantly make you stop scrolling the web, stop thinking in slogans and 280 characters, and start thinking authentically and sustainably about tackling global issues like poverty and racism , and climate change. Deeply satisfying and affirming, and full of aha moments, this is a book everyone should read.” – Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
#4 Best Book of the Year:
Fairy Tales by Stephen King
“Charlie Reade from Fairy Tale is one of King’s best characters and the story he tells – about a curmudgeonly neighbor with dangerous secrets, a parallel world ruled by an unspeakable monster, a child-eating giant and a dog that has more than lived for a lifetime – is wonderful. Fairy Tale is fantasy, growing up, friendship and adventure – it’s good versus evil, a boy and his dog on a dangerous quest; it’s King doing what he does best: setting our imaginations on fire.” – Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
#5 Best Book of the Year:
Horse by Geraldine Brooks
“One of the best American novels we have read in years – it gallops back and forth in time to tell a tale of race and liberty, horses and art, and descent not only from ancestors but also from deeds. From Kentucky to New Orleans, from the 1850s to the present day, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Brooks weaves together a story centered around one of the fastest Thoroughbreds in history and the black groom who catapulted Lexington to the front of the track. A heartbreaking American epic.” – Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
#6 Best Book of the Year:
Carrie Soto is back from Taylor Jenkins-Reid
“Taylor Jenkins Reid, of Daisy Jones and Evelyn Hugo fame, has written another book you will breathe in in a day. Soto is a former tennis champion returning to the game to defend her title. She is uncompromising, ambitious and ready to risk everything. This is a big hearted story about her relationship with her father, taking risks and standing up boldly in a world that doesn’t necessarily want strong women to succeed.” – Lindsay Powers, Amazon Editor
#7 Best Book of the Year:
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
“In this fascinating novel, Kingsolver looks into the neglected screams of Appalachia to tell an insightful and razor-sharp coming-of-age story about a boy named Demon Copperhead. Born behind the eight-ball of life, Demon faces hunger, cruelty and a tidal wave of addiction in his tiny county, but never loses his love for the place that claims him. With the soulful narration of this kind, contradictory, funny boy, Kingsolver gives voice to a place and its people where beauty, despair and resilience collide.” – Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
#8 Best Book of the Year:
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
“Celeste Ng joins our list of best books of the year for the third time with her most gripping story yet. A mother mysteriously disappears amid a nationalist movement that feels chillingly close to reality – sending her young son on a brave quest to find her, aided by everyday heroes in unexpected places. The prose sings while the pieces click. This is fiction as a revolution that serves as a warning, a dystopian fairy tale and a suspenseful thriller with moments of hope to cheer you up as you read.” – Lindsay Powers, Amazon Editor
#9 Best Book of the Year:
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freeland
“This is the true story of one of the few people who escaped from Auschwitz, but that only touches on what this book is about. Rudolph Vrba set out to tell the world about the atrocities he witnessed in the concentration camps, but much of the world wasn’t ready to hear it. Author Jonathan Freedland paints a vivid, moving portrait of what Vrba experienced during and after the war. Vrba was certainly a hero, but he was also a human being. This is a forgotten story that you won’t soon forget.” – Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor
#10 Best Book of the Year:
City on Fire by Don Winslow
“Don Winslow (Power of the Dog trilogy, Broken) is without a doubt one of the finest crime writers in decades. And with City on Fire, he’s written one of the most gripping, giddy family crime novels since The Godfather. It’s about loyalty, love, brotherhood, family, belonging, betrayal and survival. But no matter how epic his themes, it’s Winslow’s eye for the small, personal details that will burn these characters into your heart and into your memory.” – Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor
You may also be interested in Barnes and Noble’s Best Books of the Year and The Best Book of the Year according to Barnes & Noble Booksellers. And keep an eye out for Book Riot’s best books of the year, coming soon!