December 2022: Our Top Picks of the Year

Our favorite books, shows, and music from the year!


All Souls Trilogy: A Discovery of Witches; Shadow of Night; The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
I always pick up a spooky read for fall, and the All Souls Trilogy exceeded my expectations this year. I fell hard into Harkness’ modern world where witches, vampires and demons live among us warmbloods, and fell even harder into the second book when they travel back in time to the days of Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare. (Elle)

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
One of the best books I’ve ever read in my life, let alone this year. Don’t let the size or comparisons to Dickens keep you away. (Amber)

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton’s autobiographical graphic novel about her time working for the oil industry in northern Alberta, Canada is funny, sad and thoughtful. Beaton chronicles the challenges she faced living and working in the oil sands, where women are outnumbered by men 50 to 1, as she struggles to pay off her student loans. At times it’s a hard read due to the blatant sexism and misogyny she faces, including sexual assault, but Beaton’s signature wit shines through. (Liz)

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Another 5-star read from this year, deeply moving and an incredible family of characters. An incredibly humanizing story about the AIDS crisis and grief. (Renee)

House on Endless Waters by Emunah Elon
During a visit to Amsterdam, an Israeli novelist unravels his family’s tragic history there during the Second World War. Beautifully written, the work also showcases Elan’s extensive research, which provides insights into how the Netherlands lost a higher proportion of its Jewish population to the Nazi death camps than any other Western European country. (Janet)

How to Pronounce Knife: Stories by Souvankham Thammavongsa
One of those “I can’t believe this is a debut” books. I was pretty dazzled by this short story collection centering on the lives of Laos immigrants and their kids. The stories are just a touch strange, and very moving in subtle ways. I’m really looking forward to following this author’s work! (Cathy)

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Best fiction book I’ve read in years. (Kelly)

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert
It has witches, it’s creepy, and I couldn’t put it down. (Ash)

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Dragons, and sorcerers, and pirates, oh my! A long fantasy read with intense world building. (Karina)

The Round House by Louise Erdrich
This novel is about a thirteen-year-old boy named Joe and his attempts to seek justice after his mother is assaulted in their Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It’s powerful, moving, unexpectedly funny, and captures what it’s like to be a kid so accurately. Erdrich is becoming one of my favorite authors! (Cathy)

Things to Look Forward To: 52 Large and Small Joys for Today and Every Day by Sophie Blackall
This illustrated meditation on everyday wonders is a delight. (Jen)

Time is A Mother by Ocean Vuong
Poetry collection dealing with time, memory family and identity. (Claire)

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
This is easily the best book I read all year. I was a fan of Zevin when she was writing YA fiction when I was a kid and was thrilled to see her on the shelves again. The most lovable characters who will make you laugh and cry, and a wonderful story of how important and transformative love (ESPECIALLY platonic love) can be. (Renee)

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix
I read this fictionalized take on the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in June, and still find myself thinking about it in December. The facts were well researched, the characters were dynamic and likeable, and the author really made the event come alive. (Dana)

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McCallister
I can’t stop thinking about this book! The protagonist witnesses her son stab someone to death, and then each morning she wakes up, she goes back in time and tries to piece everything together. I couldn’t put it down. (Dana)


The Bear (Hulu)
A mind-bendingly good show!! A renowned chef goes home to run the hole-in-the-wall sandwich joint left to him by his brother. It’s stressful because they do an INCREDIBLE job of drawing you in — it felt like I was watching a documentary, or like I was literally in a restaurant kitchen. Last episode made me sob. (Renee)

Derry Girls (Netflix)
I’ve been loving Season 3 of Derry Girls this year. The misadventures and laughs pick up right where they left off! (Dana)
This show about a group of teenage friends living in Derry, Ireland in the 90s during the Troubles is one of the funniest and most charming shows I’ve seen in years. I’m currently watching the final season and I don’t want it to be over. Don’t watch this if you hate laughing! (Cathy)

Sam Elliott is a national treasure. Tim McGraw is also fantastic in this Yellowstone origin story. (Amber)

Los Espookys (HBO)
A group of quirky friends use their love of gore and horror to start a business fabricating supernatural events. (Claire)

Midnight Mass (Neflix) (Liz)

Queens of Mystery (DVD and Hoopla)
I am not usually one for murder-mysteries, but this show has a good dose of comedy mixed in and the murders are not as graphic as in other series. (Janet)

Stranger Things, Season 4 (Netflix)
It is always hard for a TV series to top their first season, but Stranger Things continues to blow everything else out of the water. I watched Season 4 in one sitting because I just could not stop! Prepare yourself for thrills, chills and many, many tears. (Elle)

Wednesday (Netflix)
The humor is perfection, and I enjoyed it very much. (Ash)
So fun and clever! Jenna Ortega is brilliant in the lead. (Kelly)

Woke Up This Morning (podcast and book)
As a HUGE love of The Sopranos, I really loved listening to this podcast and hearing tons of stories from the cast and creators about filming, storylines, and Sopranos conspiracies. An added bonus: Michael and Steve also published a book expanding on the podcast. (Elle)


The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
Really digestible, bite-size snippets of the human experience from John Green’s perspective. Will make you appreciate the important and small things in your life. I’m still thinking about the chapter on sunsets. (Renee)

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann, translated by Jamie Bulloch, narrated by Jane Collingwood 
Room meets Gone Girl is a PERFECT analogy! (Deb)

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Narrator Kobna Holdbrook-Smith brings 11-year-old Asante boy Kofi and his family and village to life in this engrossing and heart-rending book, the first in a trilogy. (Jen)

Girl of My Dreams by Fletcher
For someone who doesn’t really like dance pop, I absolutely love this album. (Ash)

Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell, narrated by Ell Potter
Beautifully original story focused mainly on Agnes, the wife of William Shakespeare. Ell Potter’s narration was also gorgeous. I did not want it to end. (Janet)

How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal Marie Fleming, narrated by Melanie Taylor
I’ve been reading a lot on race, equity and inclusion and this was BY FAR the most accessible. The audiobook was terrific and I bought a print copy because there were references and exercises that I wanted to refer back to when I wasn’t driving my car. (Deb)

Renaissance by Beyonce
Beyonce once again releases a ground breaking record and leaves no doubt in our minds that she is a visionary in the music industry. (Tessa)

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
War. Romance. Heartbreak. Intrigue. Royals. Brilliant, strong women. Excellent! (Deb)

Vide Noir by Lord Huron
Though Long Lost is this band’s most recent release, Vide Noir is one of my all-time favorite albums. I’m including it here because I was lucky enough to see Lord Huron live this summer. (Amber)

Wild Dreams by Westlife
Westlife’s newest album was in heavy rotation this year, as I got to live my own Wild Dreams and see them live for the first time! (Dana)

You Are Good (podcast)
If you love movies, I can’t recommend this podcast enough. It’s introduced me to so many movies and it’s also made me appreciate movies I already loved in new ways. Sarah Marshall and Alex Steed are such thoughtful, empathetic hosts that I’ve learned a lot from. This podcast feels like therapy in the best way. (Cathy)

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