The Best Books of 2022

Blue Willow Bookshop's Best Books of 2022

Can it really be that time already? The days are growing shorter, the calendar is running out of pages, and it's once again time to share our favorite titles from another banner year in books. We're very excited to welcome you to our annual "Best Books" list — 30 books we loved in 2022, for readers of all ages and interests.

You can scroll through the whole list below, from Picture Books down to Cookbooks. Alternatively, use the links at the bottom of this section to jump straight to the area of your interest.

Finally, a friendly holiday shopping reminder: Once again this year, many popular titles will be scarce due to ongoing supply chain disruptions. If you'd like to give one of these books as a gift, we encourage you to buy it now. And if you can't find the one you're looking for, ask us for personalized recommendations! We have plenty of wonderful books on the shelf that we're eager to share.

Happy reading, friends.



Picture Books

Farmhouse, by Sophie Blackall


by Sophie Blackall

From the brilliant, talented creator Sophie Blackall, comes this beautifully illustrated story of a real farmhouse and the family who once lived there. With materials salvaged in the house, including wallpaper, composition books, newspapers, brown paper bags, clothing, handkerchiefs, curtains, and string, Sophie imagined what life was like for the two parents and their 12 children and captures her vision masterfully. There is so much to enjoy from the rhythm of the text to the illustrated pages and cover. Don't forget to remove the book jacket to see the artwork on the casewrap. This is a book to treasure!


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Interior - FARMHOUSE, by Sophie Blackall

Somewhere in the Bayou, by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey

Somewhere in the Bayou

by Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey

Four animals make their way through the bayou and try to cross a creek. They find a log that has a strange tail next to it. Each animal takes a different approach, with varying degrees of success. Pick up this book to see the surprising conclusion, which will be a perfect jumping off point for plenty of discussion.


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I Am a Baby, by Bob Shea

I Am a Baby

by Bob Shea

This deadpan look at infancy from the baby's perspective will have readers of all ages in stitches. It's a perfect circle story, with every situation followed by, "Because I am a baby." Clever illustrations will delight eagle-eyed readers!


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Two Dogs, by Ian Falconer

Two Dogs

by Ian Falconer

Dachshund brothers Perry (the worrier) and Augie (the rowdy one) are home alone during the day and get into plenty of mischief. A welcome return to picture books from Ian Falconer, author and illustrator of our beloved Olivia. These dogs are HILARIOUS! Perfect for anyone who likes to laugh or has gotten into some mischief.


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Interior Illustration - Two Dogs, by Ian Falconer

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Mac Barnett & illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

Clip clop, clip clop! Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen use their combined talents to create a rollicking version of a classic fairy tale. Run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore or library to read The Three Billy Goats Gruff. All you have to do is cross the bridge!


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Middle Grade

The Ogress and the Orphans, by Kelly Barnhill

The Ogress and the Orphans

by Kelly Barnhill

Once upon a time, Stone-in-the-Glen was the most perfect of places to live, a prosperous village where education and discussion were prized; where people lived and worked in harmony; and where neighbors came to each others’ aid. 

A series of calamities—dragon sightings, fires, destruction of homes, parks, schools, and most importantly their beloved library—caused the villagers to retreat into their homes where they became self-centered, miserly, insensitive, and heedless of others. The villagers’ self-imposed isolation leads to their myopia regarding their revered mayor and the rebuffed ogress who lives at the edge of town. 

After one last misunderstood incident leads to violence, the orphans team up with unusual partners to bring their beloved village back to life.

Told through an omniscient narrator whose identity is slowly revealed, this is a good, old-fashioned fairytale reminding us of the power of kindness and being a good neighbor.

—Jennifer G.

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Hummingbird, by Natalie Lloyd


by Natalie Lloyd

Change is in the air. When glittery white feather-flakes begin to fall, stories begin to circulate about a magical wish-granting hummingbird that hasn’t been seen in the town of Wildwood for many years. Twelve-year-old Olive Martin is determined to find it. Homeschooled through elementary school, her dearest wish is to attend Macklemore Middle School this year and finally find her BFF. Olive has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as OI or “brittle bone disease.” Yes, her body can be very fragile, but her spirit sparkles and her heart roars with the strength of a lion. Quirky yet lovable, with a kind and supportive family, new friends, incredible resiliency and inner strength… this story is a hug, even with its challenges.

—Jennifer K.

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Odder, by Katherine Applegate


by Katherine Applegate; with illustrations by Charles Santoso

Odder the otter loves to frolic in the ocean off of California, tumbling and turning and cheerfully interacting with the world around her. When she comes into contact with a great white shark, she's taken back to live with humans, which forever changes her life. This story, told in verse, is inspired by a program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium that matches orphaned otter pups with surrogate mothers. Odder and her adventures will hold readers spellbound until the very last line. Highly recommended!


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Interior illustrations from Odder, by Katherine Applegate. Art by Charles Santoso.

Attack of the Black Rectangles, by A. S. King

Attack of the Black Rectangles

by A. S. King

When sixth-grader Mac realizes parts of every single classroom copy of Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic have been blacked out, he and his friends decide to discover just what has been censored and why. Indignant and insulted by what they learn, they set out to right the situation. Based on a true incident, Amy Sarig King offers a thought-provoking and respectful entry into a timely and relevant topic.

—Jennifer G.

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Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?, by Leslie Connor

Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?

by Leslie Connor

Aurora and Frenchie have been best friends—really each other’s only friends—since third grade. You don’t see one without the other. Aurora is loud, impulsive, and boisterous, constantly blurting out what she thinks but usually what no one else wants to hear. (I love her!) Frenchie is totally nonverbal, but Aurora can read his needs, thoughts, and ways like no other. She’s Frenchie’s greatest advocate, determined to get others to “see” him the way she does and to include him.

Sixth grade brings huge change: two girls new to town befriend Aurora and Frenchie; for the first time, Frenchie and Aurora are not in the same class — and Frenchie has a young, new aide. The two are no longer always in each other’s line of sight.

And then one day, Frenchie goes missing. How is it that no one noticed? No one has seen Frenchie? How do you search for someone who doesn’t speak? Whose fault is this?

Leslie Connor brings to life a village in Maine readers will want to visit, if not move to, and irresistibly quirky characters they’ll want to be neighbors with.

—Jennifer G.

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Young Adult

The Agathas, by Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson

The Agathas

by Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson

Two high schoolers, one in the cool group and one not, band together to solve the mystery of Brooke Donovan's disappearance in an upscale coastal California community. Alice Ogilvie fashions herself after the great mysteries by Agatha Christie. Iris Adams is in for the money (in order to help her mother to escape a domestic abuse situation). It is not for the tender hearted but it is funny and as fast paced as any adult thriller. The group of sleuths is very smart. And they are determined to figure out what happened. They use all the contemporary social media to help their cause. And in the end, of course, it's not the usual suspects. 


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I Must Betray You, by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You

by Ruta Sepetys

Christian is a teenager living in Bucharest in the late 80's. Everyone is spying on everyone. The "police" demand that Christian, a budding writer and silent questioner of the Ceausecu regime, report on the American ambassador's son. He loves his family and a young neighbor, Lilliana so he agrees. No one really knows who is reporting on people's movements. Ultimately, revolution comes. But it comes at a price to Christian and the Romanian people.


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As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow, by Zoulfa Katouh

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow

by Zoulfa Katouh

After the Syrian Revolution destroyed many lives, including Salama's parents and brother, Salama, a pharmacy student, finds herself serving as a doctor at the hospital. Despite her fears, Salama does her best to help those who are brought in before making her way home to her pregnant sister-in-law, Layla. Layla is eager to flee the country, but Salama is stuck between feeling compelled to stay behind to help those who are hurt and wanting to leave in hopes of a better life. Her stress is manifested in an imaginary spirit who tells her what to do, and any decision is further complicated when she meets an attractive young man. This is a compelling story of what the ongoing trauma of war does to individuals and their communities. 

—Ayah & Alice

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Interior of Blue Willow Bookshop, looking over the back of the store

Abuela, Don't Forget Me, by Rex Ogle

Abuela, Don't Forget Me

by Rex Ogle

Rex Ogle has written a gorgeous third memoir in verse to pay homage to his Abuela, who often served as his only parent in a challenging childhood. Beautifully written, and at times hard to read, Rex's story and his Abuela will stay with you for a very long time. 


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Queer Ducks, by Eliot Schrefer

Queer Ducks

by Eliot Schrefer

Combining scientific research, comics and memoir, Schrefer thoroughly explores queer behavior in the animal world. Delving into research of ducks, primates and doodlebugs, he illustrates that queer behavior in animals is as diverse and complex—and as natural—as it is in humans. The engaging format made me feel like I was sitting next to Eliot in science class, passing notes and comics back and forth and then going for coffee afterwards.


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Adult Fiction

Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry

by Bonnie Garmus

Elizabeth Zott is a serious chemist with an incredible mind that happens to be housed in a gorgeous young woman’s body in the early 1960s.  Men want her to smile more, to talk less, to play dumb and to wear tighter clothes, all of which are a hard no. Unapologetically herself, Elizabeth is forced out of her PhD program, relegated to low-level lab work where she is not taken seriously by her colleagues until even that job is taken from her. An unlikely encounter with a local producer lands Elizabeth on her own afternoon television cooking show. After all, cooking is chemistry, and she is excellent at both. When, much to the horror of station executives, Elizabeth runs her cooking show like a chemistry class, she sparks a revolution in housewives of America (and some men, too). Even strong women need support, and Elizabeth has made a family with her genius daughter, the nosy neighbor and her devoted dog, Six-Thirty. A book for #MeToo times about a woman before her time encompassing the messy realities of feminism: persistence and wit; belittlement and derision; love and joy; heartbreak and grief; judgement and isolation; family and community.  

—Jennifer K.

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Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting, by Clare Pooley

Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting

by Clare Pooley

Iona Iverson writes the advice column for a magazine but is being pushed out because of her age. Every day, she commutes into London among a handful of eccentric passengers. Jennifer would sit next to Iona any day, even though she travels with her bulldog, Lulu. She is the woman with the magic bag — in the morning she pulls out a china tea cup to drink her tea, and in the afternoon, her low ball and a flask. Sanjay is the nurse who has a secret crush on Emmie, the social media maven. Piers is a jerk at first, but circumstances change. Martha is the teenager with bullying classmates. These strangers "know" each other, but incidents happen in quick succession to bring this quirky, lovable cast of characters together. It's lovely and hilarious.


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Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

by Gabrielle Zevin

You don’t have to be a gamer to love this story of art and friendship. Samson Masur and Sadie Green are childhood friends who reunite in college to create video games. As their complex relationship lengthens and shifts over the years, Zevin explores themes of friendship, ambition, and loss, and what it means when one’s work collides with one’s passion. There is joy and grief and love and regret — as is the case in all of Zevin’s work. A deeply felt, beautifully human story.


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The adult fiction section at Blue Willow Bookshop

Wrong Place, Wrong Time, by Gillian McAllister

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

by Gillian McAllister

Parents worry about our kids all the time: Did I love them enough? Did I set a good example? The list goes on. One tragic October night, Jen waits up for her teenage son. She looks out the window to see him walking home. All is fine — until it isn’t. She runs outside to see her son stab a man three times. All he offers as explanation is, "I had to do it." Jen wakes the next day, exhausted from being at the police station and worried sick about her son, who will not accept a lawyer... only to find that the horrific event hasn't even happened yet — it's the day before. Each new day, Jen awakens one day further into the past and tries to decide what from this day can stop the chain of events from happening. As a mom, she looks at every detail to see if this was her fault. A gripping tale, brilliantly unspooled to keep readers hooked. The ending is not what I expected!


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This Time Tomorrow, by Emma Straub

This Time Tomorrow

by Emma Straub

A 40-year-old woman travels back in time to her 16th birthday. You think you know where the story is headed — a little 13 Going on 30, a pinch of Back to the Future — but you’re probably wrong. In Straub’s skillful hands, the familiar tropes of time travel take on new resonance, poignancy, and humor. A beautiful story, deftly told, perfect for any reader. I loved it.


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Properties of Thirst, by Marianne Wiggins

Properties of Thirst

by Marianne Wiggins

Words can hardly describe my love for this epic novel (with at least 30 tabs to mark passages). Wiggins has given us a present of the highest order. Inyo Valley is home to Rocky, Cas, and Sunny. After news of Sunny’s brother Stryker's possible death during the Pearl Harbor bombing, the family ranch becomes a neighbor to the Manzanar internment camp. But this is only the bones of the novel. Food, family, and so much more populate this last novel of a much-beloved novelist. I savored every moment. Fans of historical fiction will rejoice.


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Take My Hand, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Take My Hand

by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

In 1973, Civil Townsend graduated from Tuskegee University as a registered nurse. She returns to her hometown of Montgomery to work for a federal non-profit serving the African American community — specifically girls and women. One of her first cases turns out to be the most explosive one. She is charged with giving shots to two sisters (13 and 11) that turn out to be terrible to their young bodies. Is the clinic trying to keep girls from getting pregnant? As Civil finds herself drawn to a family with a widower father and hardworking grandmother, she faces difficult choices. But nothing like the one that is made by Mrs. Seager, who runs the clinic. Told in real time and looking back from 2016, the author draws you into this world that at times doesn't seem real. For fans of When We Were Yours and Where The Crawdad Sings.


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Dirtbag, Massachusetts, by Isaac Fitzgerald

Dirtbag, Massachusetts

by Isaac Fitzgerald

In this series of essays, Isaac Fitzgerald examines his past and considers how his experiences have shaped him into the man he is today. Isaac’s voice is extraordinary. He tells these stories so beautifully and his perspective as well as his capacity for grace and understanding are true gifts. This memoir is full of love — as well as some gut punches — and was impossible to put down.


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Author Isaac Fitzgerald appears at Blue Willow Bookshop.

Stolen Focus, by Johann Hari

Stolen Focus

by Johann Hari

Johann Hari lays out an impressive argument about our lives today. Big tech is constantly pressuring us to be distracted: our phones, our social media, our emails, everything. He does a deep dive into our food supply, pollution, standardized testing and more. It's a compelling argument and a clarion call to figure out where we are going and how we can affect change. He states that his stories can be refuted by different people, which makes his arguments even more compelling. Highly recommended.


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This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch, by Tabitha Carvan

This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch

by Tabitha Carvan

When Tabitha Carvan was at home with her two young children, she became a fan of actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The depth of her interest took her by surprise and in this book she takes a look specifically at women's interests once they have left adolescence and entered adulthood. It's a fascinating and empowering look at the joy that unabashed fandom can bring to your life.


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An Immense World, by Ed Yong

An Immense World

by Ed Yong

Prepare yourself for a fascinating journey into all the species that inhabit our planet. Yong writes about "the unique sensory bubble," or umwelt, of humans and animals. What we and other species can see, hear, smell, and feel will stretch your mind and your thinking. Scientists do not always agree, which is fascinating and refreshing, and many long-held writings and beliefs about animals have been disproved. Add Yong's flair for humor, and it all makes for great reading. You will never look at the world again without thinking, "What do they see, what do they feel?"


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The Fishermen and the Dragon, by Kirk Wallace Johnson

The Fishermen and the Dragon

by Kirk Wallace Johnson

In the 1970s, some white shrimpers and crabbers near Galveston and Port Lavaca blamed their low yields on Vietnamese refugees — ignoring the nearby oil spills and chemical dumps from multiple factories. Tensions between the two groups escalated, resulting in the self-defense killing of a white fisherman. The Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan arrives on the scene, further stoking hatred and violence. The various storylines and storytellers were thoroughly researched, and critical presentation was made where warranted. If you read Johnson's previous book, The Feather Thief, you know this author is an excellent storyteller, crafting nonfiction in a gripping, compelling way. Highly recommended.

—Jennifer K.

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The Wok, by J. Kenji López-Alt

The Wok: Recipes and Techniques

by J. Kenji López-Alt

One of our most favored cookbooks has been Food Lab by the respected (revered) Kenji. (We go by first names because we all know him, or at least feel like we do.) The Wok is his latest, and it joins the ranks on Greg's shelf of favorite cookbooks. As he writes in his book, a good wok should be able to handle almost everything. The recipes and advice make this an invaluable resource for the cook who likes inspiration. You may not follow each recipe precisely, but you will come to understand the science and thought behind it. This is one to read while thinking about what to cook next and why.


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Milk Street: The World in a Skillet, by Christopher Kimball

Milk Street: The World in a Skillet

by Christopher Kimball

In every kitchen, a skillet resides and will pair perfectly with this new Milk Street cookbook. Delicious photos and manageable recipes with easy-to-find ingredients makes this a perfect fit for the home chef that wants something simple yet worldly. Thirty-five countries are represented. If you crave a Greek-inspired dish or would like to try cooking with Moroccan flavors, grab your favorite skillet and get ready to cook!


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Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices, by Anita Jaisinghani

Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices

by Anita Jaisinghani

Chef Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri restaurant in River Oaks delivers a comprehensive debut cookbook full of accessible techniques, tips on cooking with whole spices, and flavorful recipes from every corner of India. Her Texas roots shine through, too, with delicious twists on Southern staples like grits, biscuits, and mac and cheese, plus cactus curry and more. Recommended for any fan of Indian cuisine!


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The exterior of Blue Willow Bookshop at night.