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From fiction to thrillers to graphic novels and biographies, these are the year’s must-read titles

Illustration by Meegan Lim/The Globe and Mail

To help shape this year’s Globe 100, our annual list of best books, we surveyed more than 200 authors, in Canada and abroad, about their favourite reads of 2022. Votes were cast for nearly 600 titles – poetry and horror, history and memoir, essays and short stories – representing a diversity of genre and authorship, not to mention a robust selection of books from Canada’s independent publishing houses.

Here are the 100 books that made the final cut – the books our respondents felt most strongly about, and the books that will continue to find a place on their shelves in the years to come.


Top 10 kids’ books of 2022

Top 10 mystery books of 2022

Top 10 cookbooks of 2022

Top five graphic novels of 2022

Canadian Fiction

When We Lost Our Heads
This Time, That Place: Selected Stories
Francie’s Got a Gun
Sea of Tranquility
After Realism: 24 Stories for the 21st-Century
A Minor Chorus

When We Lost Our Heads, by Heather O’Neill, HarperCollins

As a writer working during the same period as the great Heather O’Neill, I can say that she makes us all better as we strive to her creative heights. Each of her books is better than the last, and When We Lost Our Heads is a testament to that: it is a cleaver, sweet, horrible tale with beautifully devious characters lush with details that jump off the page. To say I can almost smell this story is not an exaggeration. It’s delicious. Laurie Petrou, author of Stargazer

This Time, That Place: Selected Stories, by Clark Blaise, Biblioasis

My hero of the Canadian short story. There’s 50 years of work in this book, all his greatest hits, but every piece is still urgent. If the topic is longing, loneliness or the search for love in an untethered world, no one writes with more wisdom or more beautifully. Alexander MacLeod, author of Animal Person

Francie’s Got a Gun, by Carrie Snyder, Knopf Canada

A stirring portrait of a small town centred on a young girl navigating the chaos that is family. From the perspectives of a chorus of beautifully complex characters, Carrie Snyder weaves a tale that artfully propels toward the most poignant of endings. A gripping, graceful and impeccable crafted novel. Bobbi French, author of The Good Women of Safe Harbour

Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel, HarperCollins

Covering a span of nearly 500 years, Sea of Tranquility is grand in scope, but intimate in detail. And despite its future-gazing – or maybe because of it – it still feels very timely. Full of unsettling surprises and clever connections, without resorting to smugness, the book ranks among Mandel’s best. Christopher Evans, author of Nothing Could Be Further from the Truth

After Realism: 24 Stories for the 21st-Century, edited by André Forget, Vehicule Press

A beautifully curated anthology. I learned the most whimsical words to describe certain sexual acts I never knew existed thanks to Jean Marc Ah-Sen. Also, if you ever have the opportunity to hear Casey Plett read from the perspective of an empathic yet weary cat, take it. Georgia Toews, author of Hey, Good Luck Out There

A Minor Chorus, by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Hamish Hamilton

I will always jump to read any book set in northern Alberta. This novel is theoretical without being pretentious, unapologetically erotic and deeply intelligent. It conveys the region’s landscape and Indigenous presence in a way that stopped me short, with its magnificent turns of phrase and sharp observations. Heartily recommended. Kit Dobson, author of Field Notes on Listening

The Broken Places
Black Dove
Good Girl
All the Seas of the World

The Broken Places, by Frances Peck, NeWest Press

A beautifully written and terrifying story of how people react to chaos after a massive earthquake hits Vancouver. The central characters are wonderfully complex – rich, entitled people clash with hardworking, regular folks as they are thrown together in a struggle for survival. Eve Lazarus, author of Cold Case BC: The Stories Behind the Province’s Most Sensational Murder and Missing Person Cases

Black Dove, by Colin McAdam, Hamish Hamilton

Colin McAdam is one of Canada’s best writers and deserves to be widely read everywhere. Each of his unique novels has the weight of something with its own gravity. Taken together, they chart the trajectory of a literary genius. And Black Dove is his best work so far. That says everything. Miguel Syjuco, author of I Was the President’s Mistress!!

Good Girl, by Anna Fitzpatrick, Flying Books

Along with Emma Healey’s memoir, Best Young Woman Job Book, Anna Fitzpatrick’s Good Girl immediately comes to mind when I think about my favourite reads of the year. Good Girl is very funny, original and fully absorbing. A brilliant and surprising debut novel that is smart, unaffected and full of the joys and uncertainties of being human. Iain Reid, author of We Spread

Utopia, by Heidi Sopinka, Hamish Hamilton

Utopia seeps into your marrow, living there long after the final page. In Heidi Sopinka’s talented hands, this book about the 1970s California art scene honours the determination of creative women and the power of female friendship. Vibrant, immersive and utterly relevant, it is not to be missed. I devoured it. Karma Brown is the co-author (writing as Maggie Knox) of All I Want for Christmas

All the Seas of the World, by Guy Gavriel Kay, Viking

My favourite of Guy Gavriel Kay’s books evoke an earlier time and place without paying slavish attention to period details – allowing for a sense of mystery that might be magic. One of the best from him in a while. K.S. Covert, author of The Petting Zoos

Fayne, by Ann-Marie MacDonald, Knopf

Bronte-esque in story and setting (a crumbling hereditary estate in a liminal space between Scotland and England), Fayne is, on one hand, a 19th-century romance-adventure about the plucky protagonist’s search for identity, and on the other, a plunge into the misty world of faerie in-between-ness. Its characters who are many things at once: earthy yet magically realistic, treacherous yet sympathetic, human yet animal, female yet male, set in the brooding, fecund moors. A mistresspiece of gothic storytelling with a triumphant ending. Terri Favro, author of The Sisters Sputnik

The Music Game
Mansions of the Moon
Pure Colour
My Face in the Light
The Island of Forgetting
We Spread

The Music Game, by Stephanie Clérmont, translated by JC Sutcliffe, Biblioasis

Many have been the millennial offerings I’ve read the past year, and while there is much to recommend – Georgina Beaty’s The Party Is Here, Haley McGee’s The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale and Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You? – the book I keep thinking about is Stéfanie Clermont’s The Music Game. An amalgam of short stories, childhood remembrances, dolorous journaling and deeply-felt romances, this multi-prize-winning novel is an ode to friends who seek alternatives to the systems they’ve inherited. Alex Pugsley, author of Shimmer

Mansions of the Moon, by Shyam Selvadurai, Knopf Canada

In this deeply textured novel, Shyam Selvadurai recentres the classic story-legend of the Buddha to spotlight Yasodhara, the enlightened one’s wife. This is a love story on the surface, but also an elegant tale about the weight of power, relationship and ambition – and the figures who shouldn’t stay in the shadows of history. Harley Rustad, author of Lost in the Valley of Death: A Story of Obsession and Danger in the Himalayas

Pure Colour, by Sheila Heti, Knopf Canada

Told with equal parts dark humour and childlike curiosity, Pure Colour is a metaphysical foray into where a life ends up, after all has been upended; how death is a thing that lingers, takes on another life in the ones who survive. A shape-shifting epic that reimagines the spectrum of what the novel is and can do. Adebe DeRango-Adem, author of Vox Humana

My Face in the Light, by Martha Schabas, Knopf Canada

I devoured this book. It’s gorgeously written, moving, smart, mysterious and knowing. If you love quality, intelligent, nuanced, lyrical, insightful writing about young women grappling with how to live the rest of their adult years, you will love this book. Haley McGee, author of The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale: Finding a Formula for the Cost of Love

The Island of Forgetting, by Jasmine Sealy, HarperAvenue

In her debut, Jasmine Sealy writes vividly and with intention on the generational traumas that linger even when forgotten. The past is always present yet unknowable to her characters. The way they navigate the world is informed by not only their own presence in it, but also through the experiences of their ancestors. She also breaks away from the mainstream view of tourism as a source of knowledge and enlightenment. Instead, she reveals its impact on host land, and its voyeurism to its people. Danny Ramadan, author of The Foghorn Echoes

We Spread, by Iain Reid, Simon & Schuster

This is a spare, compelling and terrifying read. Penny, our artist octogenarian is us. After a fall, she’s is shuffled off to a bizarre care home where art, death, aging and worth are all somehow served up in a nightmare of perfect prose. This novel clings to you. Teresa Toten, author of Eight Days

Querelle of Roberval
If An Egyptian Cannot Speak
Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
The Last Chairlift
The Sleeping Car Porter
Finding Edward

Querelle of Roberval, by Kevin Lambert, translated by Donald Winkler, Biblioasis

Querelle of Roberval transplants legendary French novelist Jean Genet’s priapic queer sailor from his 1947 novel, Querelle de Brest, to contemporary Lac St-Jean and sets him to work in a sawmill in the middle of a bitter syndical struggle with a rapacious boss. The most brilliant, imaginative, phantasmagorical and incendiary novel of the year. Will Aitken, author of The Swells

If An Egyptian Cannot Speak, by Noor Naga, Graywolf Press

Sometimes it feels that nothing new is possible in literature, and then you read such a book as If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English. Naga explores what it means to speak – about yourself, about others, about the world – in a way that is poetic and philosophical, gnomic and illuminating, shocking and wise. André Forget, author of In the City of Pigs

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, by Kim Fu, Coach House Press

A set of beautifully strange short stories that are both original and insightful. Myth-like in quality at times, but always masterfully crafted, this is a book that can be read and re-read. Every story is a curiosity you won’t soon forget. Gurjinder Basran, author of Help! I’m Alive

The Last Chairlift, by John Irving, Knopf Canada

Ghosts populate these pages, both actual and metaphorical ones, with many of Irving’s themes drawing together cohesively for what he says will be his last long novel. Those of us who grew up with those lengthy books found a late masterpiece in Adam Brewster’s sad, funny and authentic life. John Boyne, author of All the Broken Places

The Sleeping Car Porter, by Suzette Mayr, Coach House Books

In this remarkable novel, readers meet Baxter, a porter with infinite chores but few minutes to himself. The passengers in his train car demand help lifting, heaving, shlepping, coddling, packing and more lifting – and sometimes even flirting. Through the night, Baxter’s sleepless desires pull readers across lonely and alluring train tracks. Nicole Markotic, author of After Beowulf

Finding Edward, by Sheila Murray, Cormorant Books

A tremendous debut novel that captivates you from the first sentence to the last. A beautiful tale told with deep humanity, so raw and real, it could only be written from the soul. Sheila Murray’s prose is exquisite, and her gift for storytelling is a delight and a treasure. Indra Ramayan, author of Mud Lillies

At Last Count
Animal Person

At Last Count, by Claire Ross Dunn, Invisible Publishing

At Last Count is a beautiful portrayal of one woman’s journey in overcoming her demons to face what scares her the most head on: loss of home, facing her bully and coming to terms with grief. A remarkable and poignant book. Zarqa Nawaz, author of Jameela Green Ruins Everything

Animal Person, by Alexander MacLeod, McClelland & Stewart

This is one of the best collections of short stories I’ve read in a long time. Strong plots, vivid characters and settings and powerful themes. MacLeod isn’t afraid to excavate the worst aspects of human behaviour, though, to be fair, he also (sometimes) shows the good, too. Cynthia Flood, author of You Are Here: Selected Stories

Canadian Non-Fiction

Ordinary Wonder Tales: Essays
Kiss the Red Stairs: The Holocaust, Once Removed
Rooms: Women, Writing, Woolf
Making Love With The Land
Half-Bads in White Regalia: A Memoir
The Castleton Massacre: Survivors’ Stories of the Killins Femicide

Ordinary Wonder Tales: Essays, by Emily Urquhart, Biblioasis

Non-fiction that hums with truth and life. Emily Urquhart writes about family, pain, fear and genetics all through the lens of folk tales and folk history. It proves a deeply moving meditation on the stories we tell ourselves, collectively and individually, to make sense of the insensible magical wonderful awful parts of our ordinary lives. Carrie Snyder, author of Francie’s Got a Gun

Kiss the Red Stairs: The Holocaust, Once Removed, by Marsha Lederman, McClelland & Stewart

Kiss the Red Stairs is Marsha Lederman’s memoir of her journey as the daughter of Holocaust survivor parents. It’s an enormous achievement – harrowing yet ultimately uplifting. I wept and I also laughed – sometimes on the same page. Ann-Marie MacDonald, author of Fayne

Marsha Lederman's year in reading

Rooms: Women, Writing, Woolf, by Sina Queyras, Coach House Books

A remarkable book-length essay/memoir that works through Sina Queyras’s reading of Virginia Woolf – and how an early introduction to Woolf’s work offered them a way not only out but through an upbringing punctuated by abuse, poverty, loss and trauma. This is a powerful work on the transformative potential of literature, from one who allowed themselves to be changed through the process. rob mclennan, author of The Book of Smaller

Making Love With The Land, by Joshua Whitehead, Knopf Canada

Joshua Whitehead walks among two worlds, two generations. These heartbreaking essays are infused with poignant, sometimes cutting, humour and an ever present reminder of the horrendous scars left on a people almost eradicated by oppression, murder and cruelty – who remain undying today, despite it all. Mary Graham, author of A Stunning Backdrop: Alberta in the Movies, 1917-1960

Half-Bads in White Regalia: A Memoir, by Cody Caetano, Hamish Hamilton

Cody Caetano is an exceptionally talented writer, and Half-Bads in White Regalia is a stunning debut. As a memoirist with a body of work spanning multiple genres, his keen eye for the poetic on a line level is impressive and unique. I’ve never read prose like Caetano’s. There is remarkable attention to sound and rhythm from the first to last page. Fawn Parker, author of What We Both Know

The Castleton Massacre: Survivors’ Stories of the Killins Femicide, by Sharon Anne Cook and Margaret Carson, Dundurn

In this shocking story about a mass murder in 1963, two sisters have reconstructed the events of that horrible night through deep archival research, oral histories and a conversation between the two of them that has lasted almost 60 years. One of the authors survived the trauma, and this work of literary non-fiction sheds light on the enduring violence against women. Tim Cook, author of Lifesavers and Body Snatchers: Medical Care and the Struggle for Survival in the Great War

Son of Elsewhere: A Memoir in Pieces
Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism
Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory
Best Young Woman Job Book: A Memoir
The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure
Sideways: The City Google Couldn’t Buy

Son of Elsewhere: A Memoir in Pieces, by Elamin Abdelmahmoud, McClelland & Stewart

Elamin Abdelmahmoud writes with beautiful honesty and tenderness, painting an intimate look at his life and family while maintaining his trademark sense of humour. Reading Son Of Elsewhere felt like being confided in by a dear friend who is still figuring things out (and naturally, we’re all rooting for him). I loved this book. Erin Pepler, author of Send Me Into the Woods Alone: Essays on Motherhood

Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism, by Maude Barlow, ECW Press

The extreme right is on the move, conspiracy theory is everywhere and the great rivers of Europe, China and the American West are drying up. How much dystopic can it get? Maude Barlow offers a badly needed lifeline to those of us drowning in the uncertainty of the times. This is a letter of hope and encouragement to a young generation. She shows how change is possible. Charlie Angus, author of Cobalt: Cradle of the Demon Metals, Birth of a Mining Superpower

Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory, by Sarah Polley, Hamish Hamilton

The only way out is through. Sarah Polley’s literary debut proves the multihyphenate can direct her talents toward book writing, too. As a fellow traumatic brain injury survivor, I am grateful Polley has survived and lived to tell her tale. Run Towards the Danger is vulnerable, visceral and powerfully moving. Andrea Werhun, author of Modern Whore: A Memoir

Best Young Woman Job Book: A Memoir, by Emma Healey, Random House Canada

Emma Healey tenderly yet ferociously peels back the layers of the connection between precarious work and existing as a woman looking for safety in life in general – and the slippery world of the Canadian writing scene in particular. Anna Maxymiw, author of Minique

The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure, by Dan Werb, Crown

Dan Werb took a complex and controversial topic – the development of coronavirus science – and made it interesting and accessible. An important topic on the most important world challenge of the post-Second World War-period. Mark Bourrie, author of Big Men Fear Me: The Fast Life and Quick Death of Canada’s Most Powerful Media Mogul

Sideways: The City Google Couldn’t Buy, by Josh O’Kane, Random House Canada

As someone who covered Sidewalk’s misadventures in Toronto, I was fascinated by what Josh O’Kane dug up in Sideways, and in particular his deep dive reporting on the weird and dystopian visions of Larry Page, Google’s co-founder. An intriguing and compellingly written post-mortem on a bad idea. John Lorinc, author of Dream States: Smart Cities, Technology, and the Pursuit of Urban Utopias

Josh O'Kane's year in reading
Invisible Boy: A Memoir of Self-Discovery
Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service
Toufah: The Woman Who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement
Bedroom Rapper: Cadence Weapon on Hip-Hop, Resistance, and Surviving the Music Industry
The Book of Grief and Hamburgers
The Girl in The Middle: Growing Up Between Black and White, Rich and Poor

Invisible Boy: A Memoir of Self-Discovery, by Harrison Mooney, Patrick Crean Editions

Invisible Boy tells the story of Harrison Mooney’s upbringing as a Black adoptee in a white evangelical Christian family in Abbotsford, B.C., and, ultimately, how he meets his biological mother and develops his own sense of self. This memoir is heart-wrenching, wry and beautiful. Zazie Todd, author of Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy

Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service, by Tajja Isen, Doubleday Canada

I found this essay collection really stayed with me. It changed the way I view diversity in publishing and entertainment. And it also taught me so many small lessons that I apply to my worldview and writing every day. It’s also beautifully written and so intelligent. Tajja Isen takes a subject and looks at it in a dozen different ways, before letting it go. Heather O’Neill, author of When We Lost Our Heads

Toufah: The Woman Who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement, by Toufah Jallow with Kim Pittaway, Random House Canada

In her gripping and powerful memoir, Toufah Jallow chronicles her experience as a sexual-assault survivor and one of West Africa’s first #MeToo activists. I was captivated by her candour and inspired by her courage. Eliza Reid, author of Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World

Bedroom Rapper: Cadence Weapon on Hip-Hop, Resistance, and Surviving the Music Industry, by Rollie Pemberton, McClelland & Stewart

Rollie Pemberton slays in this big-hearted, raw memoir that chronicles his journey from Edmonton teenager to critically-acclaimed rapper. Funny, heartbreaking and deeply honest, Pemberton’s insightful behind-the-scenes look at what it means to be a Canadian artist is a must read. Amita Parikh, author of The Circus Train

The Book of Grief and Hamburgers, by Stuart Ross, ECW Press

This book examines the profound grief of losses past and anticipated. It is unflinching in this examination, but simultaneously honest about the ways that we at times choose to navigate around grief. An utterly essential book today that will still be essential tomorrow. Cameron Anstee, author of Sheets: Typewriter Works

The Girl in The Middle: Growing Up Between Black and White, Rich and Poor, by Anais Granofsy, HarperAvenue

As Anais recounts her childhood, trying to navigate two very different worlds, she shares remarkably challenging moments without sounding bitter or judgmental. Ultimately, she weaves a beautiful tale of love, forgiveness and acceptance. Authentic and compelling. My favourite read this year. Linda Schuyler, author of The Mother of All Degrassi: A Memoir

International Fiction

The School for Good Mothers
Young Mungo
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Very Cold People
The Return of Faraz Ali
The Colony

The School for Good Mothers, by Jessamine Chan, Simon & Schuster

Jessamine Chan absolutely vivisects modern motherhood in her debut, which shows how mothers are judged, how they judge themselves, how they struggle to be enough and how often they are told they will never be enough. This book ravaged me! Kate Quinn, author of The Diamond Eye

Young Mungo, by Douglas Stuart, Knopf Canada

Douglas Stuart is one of the best writers of our time. He tackles issues of class, social stability and identity with empathy, understanding, humour and courage. If you, like me, hope to see more working-class perspectives shared in more fiction and non-fiction, you won’t regret travelling into Glasgow’s housing estates with Mungo and James. Lyndsie Bourgon, author of Tree Thieves: Crime and Survival in North America’s Woods

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin, Viking

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a novel about video games and their creators, about portals to new worlds and endless lives. But mostly it’s a novel about how to make art after making art. How to keep creating after failure, or perhaps even more challengingly, after success. Jasmine Sealy, author of The Island of Forgetting

Very Cold People, by Sarah Manguso, Hogarth

As a fan of Sarah Manguso’s work, I was delighted to discover that her first foray into long-form fiction delivers all of the intimacy, specificity and intelligence I’ve come to expect from her work … and more. Like putting on a pair of 4-D glasses, maybe. I hope she sticks with this novel writing thing. Antoine Wilson, author of Mouth to Mouth

The Return of Faraz Ali, by Aamina Ahmad, Riverhead

Part detective noir, part historical novel, Aamina Ahamd’s debut novel, The Return of Faraz Ali, is an urgent and richly layered story that left me breathless – by far, my favourite book of the year. Soon Wiley, author of When We Fell Apart

The Colony, by Audrey Magee, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A satisfying immersion into the lives of a group of Gaelic-speaking people living on a small island off the Irish coast, The Colony at once showcases a range of Audrey Magee’s storytelling talents – a surgeon’s scalpel, a painter’s eye, a poet’s ear – and probes the deep complexities of language, culture and identity. Michel Posner, author of Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: That’s How the Light Gets In

Menaka Raman-Wilms' year in reading
Grey Bees
Pure Life
The Book of Goose
Demon Copperhead
The Books of Jacob
Our Missing Hearts

Grey Bees, by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk, Deep Vellum

Is it possible to remain neutral and find humanity amidst the madness of war? Kurkov’s latest novel explores this through gentle beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich who leaves the “grey zone” of Ukraine’s devastated Donbas region in a quest to save his bees. A touching, understated exploration of loneliness and survival. Robert Chursinoff, author of The Descendants

Pure Life, by Eugene Marten, Strange Light

Eugene Marten delves into pro-sports’ brain injury problem with a novel about an ex-NFLer known only by his jersey number, Nineteen, who seeks a miracle cure for his disintegrating mind on the Mosquito Coast of Honduras. A literary thriller about neurodiversity, toxic celebrity culture and the existential risks of eco-tourism. Robert Earl Stewart, author of The Running-Shaped Hole

The Book of Goose, by Yiyun Li, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A deliciously clever novel about friendship and loyalty, the nature of reality, and the cost of early fame. I could not put it down. Aanchal Malhotra, author of The Book of Everlasting Things

Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver, Harper

This is storytelling with a capital “S.” A brilliant novel about a boy that no one wants in a community that the U.S. has turned its back on. Equally heartbreaking and hilarious, this book is a page-turner that entertains you so much that you sometimes forget how much you’re being challenged and changed in the process. Bianca Marais, author of The Witches of Moonshyne Manor

The Books of Jacob, by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft, Riverhead Books

This fantastic journey across seven borders, five languages and three major religions is Olga Tokarczuk’s masterpiece. I love the breadth and scope of her storytelling, the awe-aspiring ease with which she dives into the life of Jacob Frank, an 18th-century grifter with Messianic delusions and the lives of people he leads astray. Eva Stachniak, author of The School of Mirrors

Our Missing Hearts, by Celeste Ng, Viking

This thoughtful ambitious novel is about a future that, sadly, does not seem all that far away. Its scope is, at once, everything that is and everything that could be; it captures both one family and a nation, the intimate and the universal, the worst of humanity and the best. I loved it. Sarah Everett, author of How to Live Without You

International Non-Fiction

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us
Directed by James Burrows: Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More
The Storm is Here: An American Crucible
The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth
Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, by Ed Yong, Knopf Canada

Ed Yong invites us to imagine ourselves as turtles sensing the Earth’s magnetic fields, or bees that see flowers in ultraviolet glory. Pulling us out of our anthropocentric rut, he fills us with wonder at the creatures all around us. “Animals are not just stand-ins for humans,” he wrote. Adriana Barton, author of Wired for Music: A Search for Health and Joy Through the Science of Sound

Directed by James Burrows: Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More, by James Burrows, Ballantine Books

This peek behind the TV screen into how the industry’s most prolific director put his stamp on some of the most iconic sitcoms ever made is a flat-out page-turner. In the hands of a master, what some dismiss as low brow can become high art. Linwood Barclay, author of Look Both Ways

The Storm is Here: An American Crucible, by Luke Mogelson, Penguin Press

This is the definitive account of the pandemic-era surge in right-wing extremism that led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, written by a master of first-hand, narrative reporting who was there every step of the way. Mathieu Aikins, author of The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees

The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth, by Ben Rawlence, St. Martin’s Press

In exquisite prose and from the trees’ perspective, Ben Rawlence visits the planet’s boreal forests where climate breakdown, imminent and inevitable, is not the end of the world but a new beginning. The Treeline reveals the interconnectedness of life on earth, a glory more enduring than any wrought by humanity. Katie Welch, author of Mad Honey

Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World, by Anthony Sattin, WW Norton

The renowned travel writer adopts a symphonic approach, weaving together personal experience with numerous historical and ethnological examples to produce what is essentially a blueprint for an alternative civilization. Posing the question whether we are genetically programmed to wander, Sattin provides the answer in ways that constantly surprise. Marius Kociejowski, author of A Factotum in the Book Trade

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World, by Jonathan Freedland, Harper

This is the remarkable story of Rudolf Vrba, the first Jew to escape from Auschwitz and his largely doomed attempts to tell the world about the Holocaust. Brilliantly written and full of details I had never come across before, it is also a thought-proving and sad read. Ultimately, Vrba was unable to escape from himself. Anthony Horowitz, author of The Twist of a Knife

Predator: A Memoir, a Movie, an Obsession
Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle
Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past
The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor – the Truth and the Turmoil
Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks
Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

Predator: A Memoir, a Movie, an Obsession, by Ander Monson, Graywolf Press

Ander Monson’s genre-bending book about the iconic 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger flick – which the author claims to have watched 146 times – isn’t just carefully observed film criticism. It’s also a bracing and unpredictable meditation on masculinity and gun culture in the U.S. I was enthralled by it, and I’ve never seen the movie once. Michael Hingston, author of Try Not to Be Strange: The Curious History of the Kingdom of Redonda

Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle, by Jody Rosen, Crown

Jody Rosen has written the rich, complicated, funny, infuriating, wild and thoroughly fascinating history the bicycle deserves. I can’t think of a better book about man’s conflicted relationship with technology. You will never look at a bike the same way again. David Sax, author of The Future is Analogue

Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past, by Richard Cohen, Simon & Schuster

It isn’t often I’ve picked up a book and been astounded by how little I knew about a subject I thought I knew well. Richard Cohen’s book – apart from being beautifully written – did that over and over again. He traces the history of history writers from Herodutus around 485 BC to Doris Kearns Goodwin in the form of mini-bios, but more importantly, he details how our history (ies) have been constructed, and how some – if not a lot – of it is as much fable as fact. This is a must-read book for anyone who enjoys history. It will challenge your perception of how we got to where we are. Ian Hamilton, author of The Sultan of Sarawak

The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor – the Truth and the Turmoil, by Tina Brown, Doubleday Canada

This book is everything one hopes for with a “celebrity” tell-all: It’s well-written, informative and, above all, juicy. (Did you know that Prince (now King) Charles has his own bed sent on ahead whenever he travels?) A fascinating combination of history and gossip, it kept me glued from first page to last. Joy Fielding, author of The Housekeeper

Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks, by Chris Herring, Simon & Schuster

The players, coaching staff, and executives of the Knicks from the 1990s make for a wildly colourful cast of characters, and Chris Herring’s detail-rich reporting and vivid storytelling make Blood in the Garden an easy recommendation for any reader, regardless of their interest in the NBA. Sam Shelstad, author of Citizens of Light

Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm, by Dan Charnas, MCD

One of the greatest artist biographies of recent times, this is the story of how a musician working with a drum machine and a sampler changed the face not only of hip-hop, but of jazz. Charnas effortlessly mixes biography, music theory and the history of Detroit into a coherent cultural testament to one man’s legacy. Michael Barclay, author of Hearts on Fire: Six Years that Changed Canadian Music, 2000-2005

Andrew Willis' year in reading

Children’s Literature, YA and Picture Books

The Red Palace
The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad
Urgent Message from a Hot Planet: Navigating the Climate Crisis

The Red Palace, by June Hur, Feiwel & Friends

The Red Palace, like June Hur’s other books, is rife with beautiful prose, striking characters who grab you from page one, and a bold mystery at its core. She’s a master of her genre, and this book is a true delight. Louisa Onomé, author of Twice as Perfect

The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad, by Natasha Deen, Running Press Kids

Such a fun read. A blend of sadness, humour and rat-a-tat sparkling dialogue, and a main character that isn’t always likeable but is always believable. I want to steal everything in the book for my own! Kevin Sylvester, author of Apartment 713

Ghostlight, by Kenneth Oppel, Puffin Canada

A familiar Toronto setting and an antagonist that you won’t soon forget, Viker is a malignant ghost who will make your skin crawl. Superb dialogue and suspenseful action. My favourite read of the year. Angela Ahn, author of Double O Stephen and the Ghostly Realm

Urgent Message from a Hot Planet: Navigating the Climate Crisis, by Ann Eriksson, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich, Orca Books

An antidote to the crushing question that dogs many of us, but young people even more acutely – “What can I do about it?” – this richly illustrated book not only explains the climate crisis in clear, engaging language, but also offers concrete plans of action. Frances Greenslade, author Green Mountain Academy

Clover, by Nadine Robert, illustrated by Qin Leng, Milky Way

Making decision, even small-seeming ones, can be difficult. This picture book tells the story of Clover, the smallest in a large family, as they learn to trust their choices throughout a day. A heartwarming story with stunning watercolour illustrations that will resonate with big and small readers! Mireille Messier, author of Star: The Bird Who Inspired Mozart

Graphic Novels and Memoirs

Acting Class
Complete Works 1981-2016
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands

Acting Class, by Nick Drnaso, Drawn & Quarterly

Nick Drnaso creates his own, original world with a strong point of view. I loved the setting of an acting class, where there is so little literal action and so much emotional and psychological drama. The characters are haunting. Keiler Roberts, author of The Joy of Quitting

Complete Works 1981-2016, by Geneviève Castrée, Drawn & Quarterly

Geneviève Castrée was such an amazing artist of many talents. So it is a big treat to discover in this book all of her side projects, her sketchbooks, how she created her own music writing system, her collage work and paintings – so many mind-blowing beautiful things we had never seen before from her. Julie Doucet, author of Time Zone J

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, by Kate Beaton, Drawn & Quarterly

In a deeply beautiful way, Ducks offers a nuanced perspective on a place and industry that fuels much of Canada but that many of us know very little about. However, it also goes beyond that, presenting a deeply moving picture of humanity in general: lonely, disillusioned and, ultimately, redemptively compassionate. Emma Hooper, author of We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky


Quiet Night Think: Poems and Essays
The Big Melt
The Affirmations
Exculpatory Lilies
Parasitic Oscillations

Quiet Night Think: Poems and Essays, by Gillian Sze, ECW Press

In a perfect blend of essays and striking observational poems, Quiet Night Think strings up lights along the laneways on language and motherhood, translation and lineage. The writing is breezy and profound, a testament to Gillian Sze’s considerable craft. This warm, thoughtful book reveals something new on each re-read. Andrew Faulkner, author of Heady Bloom

The Big Melt, by Emily Riddle, Nightwood Editions

Undoubtedly one of the funniest books I’ve read this year. It is also imbued with a prairie feminist consciousness that balances the humour with deep intellect. Emily Riddle has vibrant ideas about how we should live in the face of colonial catastrophe, and thankfully she has turned them into poetic gems. Billy Ray Belcourt, author of A Minor Chorus

The Affirmations, by Luke Hathaway, Biblioasis

I read this in manuscript form and knew, immediately, it was the book of the year. These are masterful, musical poems about faith and transformation, by one of our best contemporary poets. Jason Guriel, author of On Browsing

Exculpatory Lilies, by Susan Musgrave, McClelland & Stewart

Susan Musgrave buries loss and kindness behind wit in this collection of grave meaning. Playful but serious, she writes in a way that can’t possibly be taught but by experience. Life, time: transfixed by transcendental moments passing by as lines. Lines dividing life from lives and lamenting. Andrew Brobyn, author of Babble On

Parasitic Oscillations, by Madhur Anand, McLelland and Stewart

Parasitic Oscillations offers rich, unexpected, deeply moving portraits of interdependence. From Madhur Anand’s mathematical diagrams of birdsong, to her intimate family dialogues, each page invites contemplation of the complex relationships we hold with one another, with history and with the many species in our midst. Alessandra Naccarato, author of Imminent Domains: Reckoning with the Anthropocene

Mysteries and Thrillers

A Heart Full of Headstones
Blood Atonement
The Winter Guest
The It Girl
Never Coming Home
Five Moves of Doom

A Heart Full of Headstones, by Ian Rankin, Orion

Ian Rankin has cleverly turned the tables and presents the reader with a leading character we know so well in a different light. His detective, John Rebus, faces judge and jury. His crime is enough to earn life imprisonment. He has his supporters and doubters. I am a fan of the Rebus books and I supported then doubted. My mind was on the case and I could not put the book down. Glynis Peters, author of The Orphan’s Letters

Blood Atonement, by S.M. Freedman, Dundurn

Visceral prose matches emotional, compelling storytelling in this heart-wrenching thriller inspired by real events. Meredith Hambrock, author of Other People’s Secrets

The Winter Guest, by W.C. Ryan, Arcade Crimewise

W.C. Ryan draws us into the world of Tom Harkin, a shell-shocked soldier from the First World War, now playing a shadowy role in Ireland’s War of Independence. Evocative, atmospheric, a superb historical mystery written with understated elegance. Anne Emery, author of Fenian Street

The It Girl, by Ruth Ware, Simon & Schuster

Ruth Ware is at the top of her very formidable game in this chilling thriller about Hannah Jones, a pregnant, young bookseller who is trying to put her dark past behind her. An engrossing double narrative, richly drawn characters, and Ware’s signature twists and turns combine to make this her best book yet. Lisa Unger, author of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six

Never Coming Home, by Hannah Mary McKinnon, Mira

A delightfully dark thriller starring a husband you wouldn’t wish upon any wife, Hannah Mary McKinnon’s Never Coming Home is pure entertainment from start to finish, told from the villain’s perspective. Jennifer Hillier, author of Things We Do in the Dark

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Five Moves of Doom, by A.J. Devlin, NeWest Press

The third instalment of the always great Hammerhead Jed series, this one was darker and carried some serious gravitas and got my pulse racing in a way few books can. Full of powerful scenes, this book stayed with me for some time after I read it. J.T. Siemens, author of To Those Who Killed Me

Watch Out for Her, by Samantha M. Bailey, Simon & Schuster

A thrilling, propulsive read about the cost of keeping secrets, obsession and – at its heart – a riveting family drama. Samantha M. Bailey yet again knocked it out of the park. This book stayed with me throughout 2022. Sonya Lalli (writing as S.C. Lalli) is the author of Are You Sara?


Fairy Tale

Helpmeet, by Naben Ruthnum, Undertow Publications

With Helpmeet, Naben Ruthnum’s prose pulls you in from the very first page, and despite the grotesque subject matter of body horror, this novella is romantic and heartfelt. Masterfully written. Adrian Lysenko, author of Five Stalks of Grain

Fairy Tale, by Stephen King, Scribner

This is Stephen King at his best, as he takes readers into a parallel world of good versus evil. A high octane page turner that reads like a tribute to classic fairy tales, albeit this one’s very dark. You’ve been warned. Dietrich Kalteis, author of Nobody From Somewhere

Tear, by Erica McKeen, Invisible Publishing

A beautifully rendered horror novel that takes us deep into its heroine’s dissolving perceptions of reality, and creates a monster out of her feeling ignored and isolated. A haunting debut that stays with the reader far beyond its terrifying conclusion. Stacey May Fowles, co-editor of Good Mom on Paper: Writers on Creativity and Motherhood

Commercial Fiction

Eveery Summer After
Again, Rachel
Carrie Soto is Back

Every Summer After, by Carley Fortune, Viking

A great debut full of nostalgia and a sense of place. If you’ve ever spent a summer at the lake – or wanted to – this book is for you. Catherine McKenzie, author of Please Join Us

Again, Rachel, by Marian Keyes, Doubleday Canada

Rachel’s Holiday changed my life – it taught me everything I know about being a writer and a human. This sequel is even warmer, funnier and more profound than the original. This is such a wise book about love and grief. It made my year better. Daisy Buchanan, author of Careering

Carrie Soto Is Back, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Doubleday Canada

Carrie Soto Is Back is the eighth novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and the book the New York Times bestselling author says she had the most fun writing. I felt that thrill on every single page. Set in the nineties, the story stars relentlessly determined Carrie Soto, the world’s greatest tennis star, who comes out of retirement at 37 to defend her record against a younger, faster player when everyone wants her to sit down and shut up. Carley Fortune, author of Every Summer After

Historical Fiction

Daughters of the Deer
The Vanished Days
Looking for Jane
The Circus Train
The Diamond Eye
By Her Own Design

Daughters of the Deer, by Danielle Daniel, Random House Canada

Set among women in the Algonquin territories in the 1600s, Daughters of the Deer is a haunting historical novel of a gifted healer of the Deer Clan and her two-spirit daughter. A moving tale of First Nations resilience, inspired by the author’s own ancestral link to a girl who was murdered by French settlers. Tara Moss, author of The Ghosts of Paris.

The Vanished Days, by Susanna Kearsley, Simon & Schuster

This is a glorious historical adventure set in Jacobite Scotland, stuffed with fine detail, lively characters, romance and intrigue, and it works on both the large and small scale, being both sweeping and intimate. It’s also beautifully written. Jane Johnson, author of The White Hare

Looking for Jane, by Heather Marshall, Simon & Schuster

A beautiful and thought-provoking novel about pregnancy, motherhood, abortion and female health care over the past 70 years, set in Toronto and based on the shadowy oral history of similar secret networks of women. Marshall does an excellent job of showing the various facets of this extremely complicated topic. Gina Buonaguro, author of The Virgins of Venice

The Circus Train, by Amita Parikh, HarperCollins

Amita Parikh’s debut novel is a story of friendship, family and love set against a backdrop both glittering and ominous: a circus train traveling through war-torn Europe. You can practically feel the jewelled silks of the World of Wonders Circus, but just as you sink into the rich illusion Parikh plunges you into the cold and dangerous world that is Theresienstadt, a “model” ghetto and propaganda tool of the Nazis. Bryn Turnbull, author of The Last Grand Duchess

The Diamond Eye, by Kate Quinn, William Morrow

Based on the true story of Mila Pavlichenko, who transforms from quiet student to the deadliest sniper in Russian history. I finished The Diamond Eye, took a deep breath, then read it again. Prepare to lose yourself in the adventure. Genevieve Graham, author of Bluebird

By Her Own Design, by Piper Huguley, William Morrow

Piper Huguley’s gift is bringing the past to life, and she’s at her best in this novel that shines a light on a Black woman ignored by most historians, Ann Lowe, who fought personal battles and racial prejudice to become the designer of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding gown. Just brilliant. Susanna Kearsley, author of The Vanished Days

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