Our Best Books: Staff Favourites of 2022

Each year is an opportunity for growth and discovery—and Halifax Public Libraries staff discovered a lot in 2022.

In the past 365 days, we've come across some incredible reads (both old and new) and couldn’t keep them to ourselves. From beloved bestsellers and memoirs to captivating debuts and much more, we’re sharing our favourite literary discoveries with you.

So, take some time to relax and indulge in one (or more) of these incredible staff picks—and start your 2023 reading list off right.


Diane’s Picks

Staff member, Bedford Public Library

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

This book was full of feeling. It’s on many “best of” lists this year, so I’m not alone. There is something special about the time in which the story takes place; it captures a very unique period in the video game industry, which is just the backdrop of the story. I’m not a gamer, and this book is not really about video games; it’s about people and how beautifully complicated we all are.

Ducks

This book was unexpected and hard to read, but important and so well done. It’s like Kate is showing us behind the curtain, and we think, “of course, that’s how it is; that’s not shocking,” yet, it’s uncomfortable to stare right at the reality of it all.

Run Towards the Danger

Sarah Polly is a Canadian icon, role model and also just a person dealing with life—this is a great book.


Nova’s Picks

Staff member, J.D. Shatford Memorial Public Library

Jobs for Girls With Artistic Flair

I enjoyed this book because it’s about a young artist trying to find herself and make her mark on the world. As an artist myself, I can definitely relate to that.

Everything Is Ok

This book is about the author's personal struggles with mental health. I like her story because it shows hope and makes readers like me feel less alone.

The Life-changing Manga of Tidying Up

This book was good because it has good tips and visuals on how to de-clutter and be more neat and organized.


Rosemary’s Picks

Staff member, Alderney Gate Public Library

The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, a group of seniors meet Thursday mornings to solve cold cases. The four friends may be septuagenarians, but they are a clever bunch. This title is the start of the series.

The Change

While menopause generally presents a loss for women, it is not so in this novel. The trio of women in this Long Island community develop a whole new type of empowerment that helps them battle against sexism and ageism and helps solve a crime.

How to Survive Everything

Years after COVID-19, a father kidnaps his children in the belief that a new, deadlier pandemic is happening. Is there really a threat, or is this just a dark fantasy dreamed up by their conspiracy-obsessed father?

The Guncle

This is a heartwarming and humourous tale of a gay uncle caring for his niece and nephew while their father mourns the death of his wife.


Kassondra’s Picks

Staff member, Halifax Central Library

Iron Widow

Everyone that knows me knows that I am intense about this book. It's a sci-fi novel with mechas, loosely based on Chinese mythology and history, action-packed and has a polyamorous love triangle.

Leviathan Wakes

Myself and a friend based in Michigan started streaming The Expanse (which the Leviathan Wakes series is based on) and liked it so much that we started reading the books as a long-distance book club. A space opera with a noir detective feel and a found family spaceship crew, this big book is well worth the commitment.

Taaqtumi

"Taaqtumi" is an Inuktitut word that means "in the dark,” and this book delivers with chilling (pun intended) stories set in northern Canada. The authors are all northern Indigenous writers and span a variety of horror genres.


Alison's Picks

Staff member, Alderney Gate Public Library

The Library of the Dead

Set in Scotland, with ghosts, Zimbabwean magic, and a pragmatic young heroine — oh, and a secret hidden library. If you like dark, gritty fantasy with an urban feel, this one is for you.

From Here to Eternity

Mortician Caitlin Doughty investigates customs surrounding death around the world and how they compare to the funeral industry in the United States. How have we become so separated from death in the Western world, and how have other cultures maintained their connection to mortality? It was a fascinating read.


Colleen’s Picks

Staff member, Marketing and Communications

Wish You Were Here

I'm a longtime Jodi Picoult fan, but it's been a while since one of her novels hit me the way this one did. It was one of the first fiction books that I've read to address and incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic into its storyline. Wish You Were Here is a beautiful yet heartbreaking escape to paradise.

What My Bones Know

There is usually a mental health-related non-fiction read in my favourites each year—in 2022, it was this one. This book is heavy and takes an unflinching look at childhood trauma and therapy. By no means is it an easy read, but it can be filled with hope if you are prepared to take the journey with the author.

Unlikely Animals

"Set against the backdrop of a small town in the throes of a very real opioid crisis, Unlikely Animals is a tragicomic novel about familial expectations, imperfect friendships, and the possibility of resurrecting that which had been thought irrevocably lost." I'm still making up my mind about whether this was one of my favourites of the year, but the fact I'm still thinking about it makes it go down as one of the most memorable. I recommend it if you're looking for something fresh in fiction!

The Island of Missing Trees

I kicked off 2022 by reading this one, and it was a beautiful way to frame the start of a new year. Told in part through the perspective of a fig tree witnessing a story of forbidden love and deep loss, its uniqueness alone will be enough to keep the pages turning.


Art’s Picks

Staff member, Captain William Spry Public Library

Insurgent Love

This one was an intense read with fairly in-depth descriptions of local instances of violence, both domestic and public, which served as jumping-off points where Whynacht could show the ways domestic homicide, state violence and settler colonialism are all connected by the underlying ideologies in our society. She then goes on to lay out how a movement that seeks to abolish police and prisons could both prevent these kinds of violence and heal both the communities victimized by it and those that perpetuate it. I found this book incredibly powerful, and for those looking for potential solutions to society's hardest questions, it’s well worth reading.

The Nation on No Map

This book is a follow-up to the 2019 text As Black as Resistance, in which Anderson continues to explore the notion that Black people throughout the Americas are a people without a country and therefore exist in a state of anarchy. This book gives both an overview and critique of Black politics in the 20th century and lays out a framework to think about where Black people can go. In the context of the ongoing Black liberation movement that has rocked this continent over the past few years, and in the context of the backlash against it, I think this book has a lot to offer.

The Dawn of Everything

This is a text that I was excited to read all throughout 2021, and when it came out in 2022, I finally got my hands on it. This book compares new research in the fields of archeology and anthropology and then seeks to challenge our basic assumptions about human history. These authors take to task the assumption that human civilizations evolve in a linear way from small and egalitarian to complex and hierarchical to remind us that people in the past had agency and made both individual and collective choices about the way they wanted to live. As someone who loves to nerd out about world history, this book was a delight to read and has had me daydreaming about shared past ever since.


Erin’s Picks

Staff member, Collections

Dial A for Aunties

This book was such a delight to read! When Meddelin Chan accidentally kills her blind date, her mother and aunties come to the rescue. But nothing goes as planned as they try to cover up the murder. This is a great pick for fans of funny books full of ridiculous antics and heartwarming family dynamics.

Theme Music

When Dixie Wheeler was just a baby, her mother and brothers were butchered by her father, who then turned a knife on himself. 25 years later, Dixie moves into the family home where the brutal murders happened. Shortly after, Dixie begins to question her own sanity as the house comes alive with the ghosts of her family. Theme Music was the scariest book I have read in a very long time and is not for the faint of heart.

Dava Shastri's Last Day

Dava Shastri has lived a full life on her terms. So when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she decides to die on her own terms, too, with medical assistance. Dava invites her family to join her for Christmas on her private island, where they spend her last days together, grappling with her death, family secrets, and their relationships with each other. This book is a great pick for fans of character-driven stories and for those who don’t mind shedding a tear or two.


Jocelyn’s Picks

Staff member, Captain William Spry Public Library

Fayne

It is possible that I loved this even more than Fall on Your Knees. A feminist novel set on the border of England and Scotland in the 19th Century, this was a glorious read. The main character, Charlotte, especially as a young person, was such a delightful character and sometimes narrator.

Chouette

The writing masquerades as delightfully whimsical and humourous, but this is one of the best novels about the perils of motherhood that I've ever read. Tiny has given birth to an owl baby, and everybody wants to fix her, but Tiny knows that the fix could be the ruin of her perfect Chouette. The novel also contains the delightful sentence, “I come to a startling realization: that the world is populated not only by dog-people but by all kinds of people, by cow-people and wolf-people, armadillo-people and cat-people, toad-people and nomads, and small-town librarians..."

Sea of Tranquility

If you've read previous books by this author, you know that she plants Easter eggs—small details and connections to her other books; characters who played a bit part now play a leading role. Sea of Tranquility is full of connections, especially to The Glass Hotel. This sentence will ring true for anyone with a connection to Newfoundland: "Her name is Mrs. Donnelly. She's from Newfoundland. Her accent confounds him. She sounds like she's from Bristol and also from Ireland, simultaneously, but sometimes he hears Scotland."

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

Short story collections are dangerous because they're so often half great and half okay. Secret Lives is all-powerful—stories of Black women, their joys and sorrows. One story, How to Make Love to a Physicist, is a delight.

The Witch's Heart

For fans of The Song of Achilles, this is a beautiful and fun re-telling of The Witch, Angrboda (exiled by Odin) and her fraught love affair with Loki.


Heather’s Picks

Staff member, Programming and Community Engagement

Matrix

This is an exceptionally well-constructed novel about a 12th-century nun who leads her sisters out of poverty to a life of power and prosperity. While the story is loosely based on a real person, Marie de France, the Marie in the story is definitely a fantasy version of whatever life the real Marie led. The author’s astonishing historical detail weaves with a story that feels light years ahead of its time, including same-sex attraction and the building of a world that excludes men in all ways.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

This is an amazing story based on interviews with Holocaust survivor Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It’s an unlikely love story and unlikely survival story of Lale’s imprisonment at the concentration camps Auschwitz-Birkenau. He never loses hope for release and lives for each day. This story deserves your attention right now; even better, listen to the audiobook—the narrator deftly switches accents and emotional tones, never downplaying the sorrow and fear of the imprisoned Jews, Romany and prisoners of war.

Parable of the Sower

Okay, this speculative fiction title came out in 1993 but reads like it was written in 2022. It is a climate change tragedy, so well written that I was on the edge of my seat as the people fought for survival from the first paragraph to the last. If you liked American War, After the Flood, An Ocean of Minutes or The Handmaid’s Tale, please read this one.

The Sleeping Car Porter

This book is an entirely unique point of view of a Black, queer Canadian man who works as a railway porter in 1929, saving up to become a dentist. It won the 2022 Giller Prize! It’s on everyone’s best of 2022 lists. Go read this one now.

The Four Winds

This engrossing story follows a young woman into her adulthood and the start of the Great Depression, and eventually migration westward into poverty and the many stigmas that status brings. A lot of people have read this book in 2022, and you should too.


Anna’s Picks

Staff member, Marketing and Communications

Circe

This book spoke to my elementary-school self—aka my Percy Jackson & the Olympians era. If you have an interest in Greek mythology, this historical fantasy-fiction novel is a great way to revisit the gods and goddesses you grew up reading about in a darker light.

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is my comfort movie, so I had to give the trilogy a shot! Chock full of outrageously wealthy, eccentric characters, Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series is simply a delight.

I'm Glad My Mom Died

I grew up watching Jeanette McCurdy play Sam Puckett on iCarly, so when I saw her new book release this year, I knew I wanted to pick it up. This memoir is complex, paired with gut-wrenching moments and truly witty writing—I recommend the author-narrated audiobook for this pick!


Sarah’s Picks

Staff member, Collections

Fable

This Young Adult Fiction author is an expert at world-building. This is an engrossing, epic fantasy that follows the protagonist, Fable, as she joins the crew of a ship and takes to the high seas.

Every Summer After

For those that enjoy contemporary romances, this is an incredibly exciting debut by a Canadian author. The story takes place in Ontario’s cottage country and alternates between past and present. Plan ahead because you won’t be able to put this book down.

Tokyo Ever After

This Young Adult Fiction pick reminded me a little of The Princess Diaries but set in Japan. It does not disappoint. A fantastic choice when you’re craving a fun, easy read.


Can't get enough staff picks? We also shared some of our favourites in Summer 2022 that are perfect for heating up your reading list any time of the year. Check them out!, opens a new window

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