Favorite (Non SFF) Fiction Books of 2022

I am majorly an SFF reader and fantasy is the genre I find myself most comfortable with, sprinkled with some sci-fi books in between. But I do tend to read 150+ books a year and am a huge mood reader, so rest of the genres are what I go for when I’m feeling down or slumpy and need a break, but not from reading.

Despite many weeks and months where I’ve hardly read and felt awful, this year has been very good for reading and I’ve hardly had any books which I rated 3 star or less. So, I figured it wont be easy to do a favorites of the year post. And this is why, I’ve decided to split my favorites into multiple lists, the first one of them being this one – my favorite non SFF fiction books of this year.

I do enjoy my occasional romance or action adventure, and maybe even some thrilling book at times; and this is a list of all those varied genre fiction books I read this year and enjoyed. They are not in any particular order but I will list my top 3 at the bottom.

Let’s get started..

The Verifiers was an unexpected ARC request from me at the beginning of the year because I was intrigued by this noir like cover. And it wasn’t an easy to get into book immediately but once I got through a bit, it hooked me. And while I found many plot conveniences throughout, they didn’t bother me too much coz the author maintained the mystery quite well till the end. But the thing I found most memorable about this book was the themes of it which are very relevant – especially the huge influence that algorithms have on our behavioural patterns these days and what does privacy even mean when we readily (or inadvertently) feed our most personal data to these algorithms. Throw in some online dating services and a murder/suicide mystery and you get a very fascinating modern day thriller novel.

James Rollins’s Sigma Force series has been an yearly reading ritual for me for more than a decade now and it’s always fun to get to a new installment. Kingdom of Bones felt very prescient because the author unexpectedly began writing a pandemic novel before the pandemic actually began. Which is one reason I wasn’t sure if I could handle the content in this book. But ultimately my love for the series won out and this is also not the first book in this series featuring a pandemic, so I wasn’t feeling too anxious. More than the action/ adventure though (and they are always cool), I loved the way the author represented Mother Nature in this book, essentially warning us that we can’t keep exploiting earth and it’s resources endlessly for our convenience and not expect a severe backlash.

The Reading List is the kind of book I needed to read during the pandemic. I am someone who has no hobbies except reading/ blogging and whatever joy I get in my life is from the amazing books I read. Books and the blogging community felt like a lifeline when I was going through some very tough times during 2020 and this book really kind of encapsulates that experience. It’s a slice of life story about various individuals going through their ups and downs in life, and how reading and specific books help them in healing. This book is a love letter to stories and I’m so glad I read it.

I’ve been having a lot of fun reading the Remixed Classics series and I found Travelers Along the Way to be a very interesting version of Robin Hood, and I particularly enjoyed the setting in Jerusalem during the Crusades. While it might feel like things flow too smoothly for the characters, I still found this to be a very cool and classical adventure tale, with a fun cast of characters across religions.

I’m not like this huge fan of Emily Henry’s books or her couples but I did enjoy Beach Read and I couldn’t resist Book Lovers because it featured characters who love books from the publishing industry. I don’t know if I would have loved this book as much if I had read it, but it has great audiobook narration and I also really loved the themes of belonging and finding one’s home, as well as just these characters who loved books and reading. Will I read every single book EH writes? I don’t know. But her next Happy Place does look interesting.. so who knows.

YA contemporaries are not books I read as much these days but when I got the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for Meet Me in Mumbai, I really wanted to give it a try. And it’s a very poignant story about motherhood, adoption, belonging and more with some beautiful writing and very empathetic characters. I also liked how there was no judgement in the author’s gaze while telling this story and it felt important because it was around the time we knew Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned.

One of my goals for this year’s reading has been to read more translated works but the numbers have been pretty low, which I will try to improve in 2023. But my translated reading usually comprises majorly of Chinese danmei novels, and it was actually nice to get back to a regional Indian language text with The Shehnai Virtuoso and other Stories by Dhumketu. It’s a collection of Gujrati short stories written mostly pre-independence and it was very interesting to look at the author’s nuanced portrayal of caste discrimination, grief, loneliness, loss and more.

Thank you for Listening wasn’t even on my radar until I received an audiobook but I had to give it a try because I suddenly remembered that I had enjoyed Julia’s narration before a lot. And this turned out to be a fun romance novel, with voice actors (or audiobook narrators) as main characters which makes for a cool meta commentary on the romance genre, audiobook production and publishing industry. And the way the main male character’s audiobook voice is described just made me remember my favorite male narrator and and how much his voice oozes sexiness.

Forbidden City is a pretty difficult book to read but I found myself immensely captured by this fictional story of a young woman in pre- Cultural Revolution China who idolizes Mao and is ecstatic when she gets the opportunity to work in close proximity with him, and even have a sexual relationship. But this is also her coming of age story, what she does with the limited power she has due to her relationship with the Chairman, and how she reacts when she is confronted with a more cruel reality. It’s a deeply uncomfortable but compelling story which I highly recommend, but only if you are in the right headspace for it.

I went into this thinking it was gonna be a coming of age romance like Last Night at Telegraph Club. But A Scatter of Light is a coming of age story which is more about the main character finding her truth, figuring out her future, and it’s also dreams and connections and the power of art and more. It’s beautifully written (but what else would you expect from Malinda) with a lot of philosophizing in between, while transporting the reader to it’s tranquil California setting, the Dyke March, and the Queer Music Festival. Definitely another must read, especially if you are looking for beautiful queer books.

The Lady Janies and Mary books have been some of my favorite fun historical fantasy books for a while, so I was very excited for My Imaginary Mary. And as usual, I checked out the audiobook coz they are spectacularly produced and narrated. This one has such delightful characters like Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace in their teens and what might have happened if they had met and their friendship and experiments make for a very charming tale. But alongwith the entertainment, the authors also give us the time to ponder about the nature of humanity and what is it that makes us human, maybe giving us a glimpse into what AI can be in the future.

You can probably consider the below my top favorite non-SFF books of the year:

I don’t even know what I can tell you about The Two Lost Mountains and The One Impossible Labyrinth because this has been one of my most favorite series since the year I got out of university and it’s been almost 15 years now, so it’s a bittersweet feeling that this has come to an end. But I also absolutely loved binging these two final books of the series this year, meet one of my first favorite fictional found families for the last time, and just soak in all the adventures of Jack West Jr one more time. It was everything I expected it to me, and the ending was very very satisfying. I don’t think I will ever start a new series like this again, but this one will always have a special place in my heart.

Wuthering Heights has never been my kind of classic because I’m not much of a gothic fiction person. But when Tasha writes a retelling, I will read it with grabby hands even if I hate the source material. And this was just stunning. The author explores a what-if scenario in the lives of Catherine and Heathcliff, while giving them biracial identities and exploring the racism and lives of such individuals during those times England. Tasha weaves magic with her words and makes this a very beautiful, horrible, haunting but ultimately hopeful story of two soulmates. Definitely don’t give this a miss.

I had never realized that Lessons in Chemistry was a popular fiction release this year until I read one review from a friend a few months after it’s release. While it wasn’t my usual kind of book, I wanted to check it out and was excited when I got the audiobook after spending a few more months on the waitlist. And wow was this something. I listening to this during one night when I just couldn’t sleep and I have to say that it was an experience. This is a story of our main character who is resilient in the face of immense adversity, the relationship with her found family and daughter, how she goes about trying to make a mark for herself in a very sexist world, and the strength and joy and tears we experience through her tale. Just read this if you haven’t already.

And we are here at the final book in my list, and definitely a top favorite read of the year. I am actually glad I didn’t read Portrait of the Thief before the release because I too was expecting a high octane Ocean’s 11 style heist book and would have been disappointed. But I was not in the mood at the time and put it off, but kept reading the reviews which gave me a sense of what this book was actually about. And when I finally decided to pick up the audiobook, it was with no expectations of a thrilling heist but more a character study. And that’s what I did get but it felt like so much more. This book just gave me too many emotions and feelings to deal with and I truly can’t describe it properly to you, but I did try and you can check out my review. I can just say it profoundly moved me and will definitely be something I’ll cherish as a diaspora person feeling like I don’t belong anywhere. Highly highly recommend, especially if you too are part of a diaspora and constantly wonder where you belong.

And that’s it….!!! About 15-16 fiction books I loved reading this year – books which made me feel and heal and brought me joy as well as tears. I hope you enjoyed getting to know my thoughts about each of them. I promise I will be back next week with another list with a different set of books, so keep waiting..


10 thoughts on “Favorite (Non SFF) Fiction Books of 2022

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    1. I hope you do babe. They are not my usual kind of books and are slow paced and more like character studies, so just go in without too many expectations and I think you’ll like them 😊😊😊
      And I’m posting every week on the blog Prachi !!! You are just too busy these days😜😜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh gosh really?!! You’re posting weekly?!! I agree I haven’t been on top of my blog or the blogs I follow since the last few months🙈 I’m trying to change that from this month though.. I’ll probably be writing a lot more journal like entries on my blog in the coming year😊

        Advice taken on going in with low expectations.. but I do like books with good character studies, so that might work for me.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think you’ll enjoy Lessons in Chemistry, based on your feminist reading tastes… Portrait of a thief is very much a book about the diaspora and belonging and the confusion that comes with it, but I do hope you’ll still love it. It just spoke to me very strongly…

          And babe… I really do post atleast twice a week on the blog, and thrice most of the times… on insta, I’m trying once a week atleast but am not always successful… but I know you are very busy and might not find time for everything… but I look forward to your journal like thoughts 😍😍

          Liked by 1 person

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