Reviewing the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards


Rhea Howard

After a long two months of swearing off of Goodreads, I decided to log back in and give them one last chance to redeem themselves. Every year, Goodreads compiles a list of nominees for the best new books in each genre and millions of people vote to crown the winners. I disagreed with some of the winners of the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards, including  People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, the greatest let-down in the history of literature, but I’ve put that behind me with the naive hope that Goodreads will not disappoint me this time. With each category and winner, I will include a brief summary and commentary on which book should have won in my opinion. Only some of the categories are included, because I have not read most of the nominees.

Best Fiction: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevine

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevine is a book about childhood friends Sam and Sadie who reunite during college. Through a chance encounter on the subway, Sam and Sadie reconnect and go on to create a sensational video game that propels them into stardom. The book spans multiple decades and locations, including scenes from within the video game worlds that Sam and Sadie create. 

Personally, I enjoyed Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, but there were many references to decades before my time and video games that I’ve only heard my dad talk about. This novel would be better enjoyed by someone that knows a lot about video game history or lived through the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Still, I thought that this book was great and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you like video games (or if you were born in the 1980s). Unfortunately, I haven’t read any of the other nominees for this category, so by default Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevine had my vote.

Best Historical Fiction: Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction three times over the past four years. For those new to her style of writing, Reid writes biographies and historical novels about fictional famous people. In Carrie Soto is Back, Reid writes about tennis legend Carrie Soto coming out of retirement to reclaim her world record for the most Grand Slam wins from Nicki Chan, a young player at the height of her game. Soto is determined to prove herself as the greatest player in the history of the game, even if the media drags her name through the mud and she struggles to regain a physical edge over her opponents.

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid was amazing, I was completely hooked from the moment I looked at the gorgeous cover. For anyone who plays an individual sport, like myself, the rigorous tournament settings and training scenes are familiar, making it easier to become engrossed in the book and Soto’s journey. However, I have enjoyed some of Reid’s other works more;; for those interested in Reid’s unique writing style, I would suggest starting with The Six Husbands of Evelyn Hugo or Daisy Jones and the Six. Still, Carrie Soto is Back had my vote and wholeheartedly deserved to win this category.

Best Romance: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

For the second year in a row, Emily Henry claims the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance, this time with Book Lovers. The book follows Nora Stephen, a literary agent that hates an editor named Charlie Lastra that she keeps running into. That’s it. That’s the plot. 

I knew I wouldn’t like this book, but I decided to read it because I wanted to feel something; I wanted to feel the absolute rage that reading anything by Emily Henry fills me with. This woman is a con-artist and she is scamming everyone. Her three most popular books, Beach Read, People We Meet on Vacation, and Book Lovers are strategically titled so people buy her books. When an unsuspecting person decides to search for something to read over the summer by typing in ‘beach book’ or ‘vacation book,’ the first books to come up on Google are Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation. I understand that this is a marketing strategy and I would be fine with it, except Beach Read barely has any scenes on the beach and People We Meet on Vacation is not about people who meet on vacation, so it’s just blatant misinformation.

The true winner should have been Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood. It was cheated of the number one position by Book Lovers and two books by Colleen Hoover, a romance author who churns out books with basically no substance every few months but outsold the Bible this year. Love on the Brain is about a neuroscientist named Bee Königswasser who is offered the lead position on a NASA headed neuroengineering project. The only catch is that she is forced to co-lead the project with Levi Ward, an engineer who has hated her since grad-school. My favorite part about Love on the Brain is that Ali Hazelwood named her love interest L. Ward. Goodreads continues to disappoint me. Just like 2021, Emily Henry robbed Ali Hazelwood of the Best Romance Award. 

Best Debut Novel: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

The runner up in the category for Best Historical Fiction, Lessons in Chemistry, is a smart feminist novel that follows Elizabeth Zott as she battles sexism as a female scientist in the 1960s. The novel transitions to Zott as a single mother hosting a cooking show that teaches women to experiment with chemistry in the kitchen. Zott challenges housewives to break the status quo and learn their importance in society.

I was invested in Lessons in Chemistry. When I picked it up I thought I was going to be reading a stereotypical romance novel, but Lessons in Chemistry is far from it. The romantic aspect of the novel is not the main theme and while that caught me by surprise, I ended up enjoying the book more because of it. Lessons in Chemistry was a stellar debut from Bonnie Garmus and was even named 2022 Barnes and Noble Book of the Year, which it deserves just as it does the 2022 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Debut Novel.

Best Young Adult Fiction: The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the final installment in The Inheritance Games trilogy, a mystery series that is loved by many. Unfortunately, I am not part of that group. I stopped reading three-quarters into the first book. Two things to know about the first book, that will make my decision clearer: 

1) The two love interests are brothers who fell in love with the same girl. TWICE.

2) The main character believes she might be their cousin in the first book

About then is when I stopped reading this series.

The novel that should have been crowned Best Young Adult Fiction of 2022 is I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston. In this half-mystery-half-romance, Chloe Green is rivaling with prom queen Shara Wheeler for the title of valedictorian. Around a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and disappears, leaving a cryptic note in her absence. Chloe searches for her, with two boys that Shara also kissed and left notes to, so that she can bring back Shara and be named valedictorian without any doubt. I don’t usually read Young Adult Fiction, but I love Casey McQuiston and as always, she managed to make me laugh. As far as Young Adult Fiction goes, I Kissed Shara Wheeler is as good as it gets, with humor, a puzzling plot, and a dramatic love story.

Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction: Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Finding Adult Fantasy too intense for my reading leisure, I have a soft spot for Young Adult Fantasy, which combines the best worldbuilding aspects of Adult Fantasy with the unseriousness of Young Adult literature. I have not read Gallant by V.E. Schwab, but V.E. Schwab is a wonderful author that wrote one of my favorite novels ever, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, so I’m sure the number one position is justified. 

My choice was Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco, the third and final book in the Kingdom of the Wicked series. This is a controversial opinion, because the Kingdom of the Wicked series is hated on many platforms, but I’m too invested in the characters to care. The story is about a town where young witches are being murdered by a mysterious killer, and it follows Emilia, a witch whose sister is brutally murdered. Emilia must summon one of the seven princes of Hell to discover the truth about her sister’s death and prevent the death of more young witches in her town. Maybe Kingdom of the Feared wasn’t the greatest book, but it’s number one in my mind and I’m heartbroken that my guilty pleasure series has ended.

The 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards

The 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards were voted on by over 5 million readers and it was a tough competition in many of the categories, with some books only winning by a small margin of a couple hundred votes. Most of the winners were justified and deserved with the exception of Emily Henry, who taunts me with her existence. Overall, the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards were not a total disappointment. So, with the New Year underway, I’ve decided to forgive and forget my qualms with Goodreads and look to the future!’