Each month, the Amazon Book Editors post a list of their favorite books out that month. At the end of the year, this team of nine editors draws from these lists, as well as considering any they may have missed, to choose their top books of the year as a whole. They each have different backgrounds, including authors as well as former booksellers and former editors at publishing houses, but they’ve all spent their careers immersed in the book world. After putting their individual favorites of the year in a spreadsheet and pitching them to their fellow editors, they debate their choices and then finally rank their picks for the year. Those totals become the Amazon Book Editors’ Best Books of the Year list.
I spoke to Amazon Books Editorial Director Sarah Gelman about how this list gets made as well as the trends she’s noticed in publishing this year. Gelman explained that this list is based just on the books editors’ love, without taking into account sales or customers’ ratings — especially since they usually read these books far before publication date. They are especially looking for books that “transcend genre”: that readers will love even if it’s not a genre/format/topic they usually read about. The editors also consider diversity, looking at whether the list includes representation of marginalized groups — including authors of color and neurodivergent characters — both in terms of author and content.
One trend Gelman noticed in publishing this year, especially in their top ten, is books that focus on friendship — as opposed to ones about romantic relationships — especially 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 collaborators in this life are rare.” Our Missing Hearts and Carrie Soto Is Back are two other books on the list that focus on friendships as well as relationships between a parent and child. Gelman added that Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson, a favorite of hers that didn’t make the list, is another book that explores a deep friendship between a man and woman.
While this list is a combination of all the editors’ top picks, Gelman loves each of the top five, and especially recommends pairing Solito, a memoir about a child making a 3,000 mile journey by himself from El Salvador to the U.S., with Our Missing Hearts, a novel about a son searching the U.S. for his missing mother. On Solito, Gelman said, “To call something ‘required reading’ sounds boring, but this is a book human beings need to read.”
Here are the Amazon Books Editors’ picks for the top ten best books of 2022.
#1 Best Book of the Year:
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
“After devouring this novel, you’ll walk with a bounce in your step, a full heart, and the buzzy feeling that this is one of the best books about friendship — in all of its messy complexity and glory — you have ever read, which is why we named it the Best Book of 2022. Gabrielle Zevin has written a novel perfect for this moment, when connection is what we crave and hope is what we need.” —Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
#2 Best Book of the Year:
Solito: A Memoir by Javier Zamora
“Neil Gaiman once said, ‘Fiction gives us empathy…gives us the gifts of seeing the world through [other people’s] eyes.’ Solito is one of those rare nonfiction reads 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 who eases his way. A heart-pounding, heart-expanding memoir.” —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Editor
#3 Best Book of the Year:
“We can’t stop talking about Stolen Focus. It’s vital and mesmerizing, examining why we as individuals and as a collective have lost our attention spans. Suffice to say, Hari’s three-month tech-detox and his findings will make you immediately want to stop scrolling the internet, quit thinking in slogans and 280 characters, and engage authentically in sustained thought so that we can tackle global issues like poverty, racism, and climate change. Deeply satisfying and affirming and full of light-bulb moments, this is a book everyone should read.” —Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
#4 Best Book of the Year:
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
“Fairy Tale’s Charlie Reade joins the ranks of King’s best characters, and the story he tells — of a curmudgeonly neighbor with dangerous secrets, a parallel world ruled by an unspeakable monster, a child-eating giant, and a dog who has lived more than one lifetime — is wonderous. Fairy Tale is fantasy, coming-of-age, friendship, and adventure — it’s good versus evil, a boy and his dog on a perilous quest; it’s King doing what he does best: setting our imagination on fire.” —Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
#5 Best Book of the Year:
Horse by Geraldine Brooks
“One of the best American novels we’ve read in years — galloping backward and forward in time to tell a story about race and freedom, horses and art, and the lineage of not just ancestors but actions. From Kentucky to New Orleans, from the 1850s to present day, Pulitzer Prize-winning Brooks weaves together a story centered on one of the fastest thoroughbreds in history and the Black groom that catapulted Lexington to the front of the track. A heart-pounding American epic.” —Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor
#6 Best Book of the Year:
Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
“Taylor Jenkins Reid, of Daisy Jones and Evelyn Hugo fame, has written another book you’ll inhale in a day. Soto is a former tennis champ who returns to the game to defend her title. She’s unapologetic, ambitious, and willing to put everything on the line. This is a big-hearted story about her relationship with her father, taking risks, and standing up bravely in a world that doesn’t necessarily want to see strong women succeed.” —Lindsay Powers, Amazon Editor
#7 Best Book of the Year:
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
“In this mesmerizing novel, Kingsolver peers into the neglected hollers of Appalachia to tell an insightful and razor sharp coming-of-age story about a boy called 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 as its own. With the soulful narration by this kind, conflicted, witty boy, Kingsolver gives voice to a place and its people where beauty, desperation, and resilience collide.” —Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
#8 Best Book of the Year:
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
“Celeste Ng joins our Best Books of the Year list for the third time with her most gripping story yet. A mom mysteriously disappears amid a nationalistic movement that feels chillingly close to reality — launching her young son on a courageous quest to find her, aided by everyday heroes in unexpected places. The prose sings as the pieces click. This is fiction as revolution, serving as a warning, a dystopian fairy tale, and a suspenseful thriller with moments of hope that buoyed us as we 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 Auschwitz, but that only touches on what this book is about. Rudolph Vrba set out to tell the world about the atrocities he had witnessed in the concentration camps, but much of the world was not ready to hear it. The author, Jonathan Freedland, paints a vivid, moving portrait of what Vrba experienced, both during and after the war. Vrba was a hero, for sure, but he was human as well. 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 doubt, one of the best crime fiction writers in decades. And in City on Fire, he’s written one of the most immersive, head turning, heart stopping crime family novels since The Godfather. It’s about loyalty, love, fraternity, family, belonging, betrayal, and survival. But no matter how epic its themes, it’s Winslow’s eye for the small, personal details that will sear these characters in your heart and in your memory”. —Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editor
You might also be interested in Barnes and Noble’s Best Books of the Year as well as The Best Book of the Year, According to Barnes & Noble Booksellers. And watch this space for Book Riot’s Best Books of the Year, coming soon!