OPL Patron Favorites of 2022

We asked and you answered! Thanks to everyone who submitted their favorite books of 2022. We loved getting to hear about your favorites - and three of you recommended a title I've never heard of before which is one of the many things I love about hearing from our patrons. I've already added many of your suggestions to my already growing list of "To Be Read" books. Check out these recommendations from your fellow OPL patrons and for even more ideas, take a look at our OPL Staff Favorites of 2022.

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O  "It has it all; time travel, witchcraft, a shadowy government organization, a love triangle, spycraft, a viking, and a world ending threat. Can there really be anything else to include?" --Mike, patron at West

The Marmalade Diaries "About a ~30 something man who is a housemate of an 80-something woman, during Covid lockdown, in London. Adorable book."--Sheila, patron at Main

Overkill "It was a really good book. Not at all what the title suggests it was about." --Sharon Y., patron at Montclair

The Latecomer "This book was full of unexpected plot twists. It was well-written and engrossing." --Marcy S., patron at Dimond

Water Always Wins "Brilliant reporting on how water "works" and that we might (if we're smart) be able to live with semi-permanent drought." --jjjeanie, patron at Rockridge

LAST NIGHT IN BRIGHTON "This book should be taught. It brilliantly weaves two stunning narratives. Propulsive read." --JN, patron

"This book is so deeply moving. It is about Queerness and Arabness, but also about mourning and healing. I wish more people would read it " --SO, patron at King

"This book is so heartfelt and powerful. You won't regret reading it. It's an Arab American story and a Queer one but also it is universal. I will read it again." --Adam, patron

Grey Bees "This novel takes place in Ukraine in 2017, three years after the uprising that ushered in the country's separation from Russia and, therefore, the current war. The setting is a tiny, almost-deserted village in the "Grey Zone" between Russian-occupied territory andUkraine's undisputed nation. The main character, Sergeyich, is devoted to his six beehives and maintains a love-hate relationship with Pashka, the only other resident remaining. His efforts to protect his bees lead him out of the village into perilous places and people struggling to survive. The novel is all too relevant during this terrible war." --Carol S., patron at Piedmont

Nothing Burns as Bright as You This was one of my favorites of 2022: the story of two girls who were best friends until their affections grew and they became more. Through amazing poetry, we follow them through one reckless day that starts with a fire. A truly passionate story about young queer love and all the complexities that come along with it. Such fantastic writing! --Ayanna B., patron at Dimond

The School That Escaped the Nazis "Anna Essinger, the heroine of this book, started a small school in southern Germany shortly before Hitler took over. Most but not all of the children were Jewish, as was she, but not particularly practicing. Her gift was to instill in the children her own high ethical principles, so that if a child deviated from those principles other children would exert peer pressure; there was no need for“discipline” in the usual sense. Immediately realizing the implications of Hitler's ascent, she contrived to smuggle the entire student body and teachers to England, where--against enormous odds--the school succeeded, later welcoming children who had survived concentration camps. The book is inspirational in the best sense--a description of invention, resilience, bravery, and ethical purity. I recommended its purchase, and I hope that others will appreciate it as much as I did." --Carol S., patron at Piedmont

The Way of Kings When Szeth was sent to kill the Alethi King Gavilar, the Parshendi, a race similar to the docile parshman slaves of other nations, claimed responsibility for the assassination. Gavilar's son, Elhokar, then goes to war with the Parshendi. The story shifts to the viewpoint of High prince Dalinar Kholin, the brother of the murdered king. Before he died, his brother directed Dalinar to an ancient tome called "The Way of Kings", which leads Dalinar to start questioning the warlike and competitive Alethkar way of life. He also begins to experience visions in which he sees the ancient Knights Radiant. For Dalinar, these visions not only cast doubt on the mistaken history of the Radiants, they also begin to reveal the truth about the Voidbringers and the current state of the world. All of these events make Dalinar reluctant to fight in battle. Dalinar's conviction is questioned by those closest to him, casting heavy doubt on his sanity and bringing into question his claim to leadership. In the political unrest of the age, perceived weakness is cause for others to attempt to eliminate him. --Nor, patron

Black Cake "Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is the story of Eleanor Bennett and what her children learn about her life upon her death when she leaves behind a voice recording and a black cake made from a family recipe. As Eleanor's story unfolds, we learn her true history and how she wants her children to fulfill her final request. This was one of my favorite books of 2022 - beautifully written; lots of twists, and incredibly heartwarming! --Ayanna B., patron at Dimond

Who Is Maud Dixon? This is a funny, imaginative and unconventional mystery that eventually takes the reader on a wild ride to Morocco. Wonderful ending! --Beverly P., patron at Montclair

Black Cake "Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is the story of Eleanor Bennett and what her children learn about her life upon her death when she leaves behind a voice recording and a black cake made from a family recipe. As Eleanor's story unfolds, we learn her true history and how she wants her children to fulfill her final request. This was one of my favorite books of 2022 - beautifully written; lots of twists, and incredibly heartwarming! --Ayanna B., patron at Dimond

Demon Copperhead "Kingsolver perfected the narrator's voice, grabbing the reader in on the first page. The story of loss, broken homes, the foster care system's abuse of children, and terrible addiction in Appalachia are well told by her narrator. Superb read. At moments I thought it was a bit too long, but she had to fit a substantial story on the pages." --Mary, patron at Main

How Not to Drown in A Glass of Water
"Totally readable, great writing and a wonderful moving main character & her friends, family dealing with the hardships of living in New York City following the Great Recession. Couldn't put it down." --Mauri M., patron at Piedmont

"I really enjoy Angie Cruz's writing style. This one was about a mid 50's Dominicana woman that shares her life story via 12 interviews for the Senior Workforce Program. The audiobook was hilarious. I got angry at Cara Romero for being a first generation immigrant and carrying generational trauma to her son and her views and at the same time completely saw her as a human doing what she needed to survive. Great commentary on America the great (sarcasm)." --Astha, patron at Chávez

This Is Vegan Propaganda...and other lies the meat industry tells you. "This book is so informative for anyone so ethically disturbed by the enslavement and horrific cruelty which these industries subject millions/billions of innocent animals to. As he notes, our choices can help alleviate the animal suffering as well as the most pressing issues we face today: the climate crisis, infectious and chronic diseases, human and non-human exploitation. Such a flagrant denial of compassion for the animals made to suffer and die for no reason but to satisfy our food addictions speaks to the urgency of animal rights everywhere. The excuses people give when faced with this most inconvenient truth are far more absurd than any other one could imagine. With the 1000s of other food options, and growing everyday, how much longer do we continue to pay for animal torture and murder?" --James P., patron at Main

The Sentence "The Sentence is a marvel: beautiful, timely, thoughtful, full of passion and mystery. It is a gift for book lovers and a love letter to independent bookstores. It pierced my heart. I took it out of the library, of course, but had to buy it so I could savor the book lists in the back." --Tehli Y., patron at Golden Gate

You Made A Fool of Death With your Beauty "This fantastic book tells the story of a young artist, Feyi, who is looking for joy after an accident killed the love of her life five years prior. While getting back into the dating scene, she meets someone who seems like the perfect guy who takes her on an amazing summer trip to a tropical island but she can't seem to stay away from someone else who is definitely off-limits. The writing in this book is exquisite and passionate - one of my favorites of 2022." --Ayanna B., patron at Dimond

Devil House I loved this book because it was set in the Bay Area! I also thought that it did a good job combining commentary on true crime, the satanic panic, and gentrification while still being a compelling novel. I would recommend it to anyone." --Emily, patron at Main

The Night Watchman "The novel tells the story of a native American community living their lives while preparing and responding to a termination bill. I loved this novel for many reasons: the dignity of each character, despite their many challenges and adversities they are proud and know their worth. I love the strength of the heroine, Patrice. I love the wisdom of the hero, Thomas. I love Roderick. I love there's an entire chapter with the transcripts of the hearing that actually happened. Every single page is a delight to read, hard as it may be at times, it's all profound and needed." --Verónica M., patron at Golden Gate

I'm Glad My Mom Died "Despite definitely being hard to read at times due to it's more grim topics, this book is written so well in a comedic style. The personal life journey of Jennette is definitely full of difficult scenarios, but the way she describes and recounts her recovery is definitely worth a read for that alone." --Irene A., patron at Montclair

The Girl From Guernica "I love historical fiction, and this one is especially well done. It starts with the horrific destruction of Guernica (Spain) just prior toWWII and then follows one of the survivors as she must go with her father to . . . Germany." --jjjeanie, patron at Rockridge

The Furrows "As a bookseller, I get early access to a lot of new and exciting titles. This year, Namwali Serpell's The Furrows crossed my path early on. The fact that I had to wait months to recommend it widely was devastating. The story of a young woman who lost her brother at a young age, but who seems to see him everywhere, has two of the best formal twists I've ever experienced in literature (the first hits at chapter 5!). That coupled with Serpell's quietly elegaic prose makes this an incredible follow up to her excellent debut, The Old Drift, and one of the most affecting pieces of literature I've ever read." --Bee G., patron at Main

Horse "I know, a white women tries to write about enslaved trainers and jockeys, but I was glad for a story that hasn’t been told and glad it was told so well." --Barbara F., Lakeview "This beautifully-written and well-researched historical novel imagines the lives of the people who were deeply involved with a real-life horse: Lexington, the fastest thoroughbred of the 19th Century. The people are those who cared for the horse, from the 1850's, and two who became deeply interested in his history and life in the 2020's. We end up deeply attached to the groom, Jarret, enslaved in Kentucky, whose father struggled ceaselessly to purchase his son's freedom. We also care for the young Smithsonian scientist who retrieves the horse's bones from England and re-creates its skeleton for display, and her friend, a PhD student who, almost by accident, chooses as his thesis the story of the horse. I think Brooks did a wonderful job switching back and forth from century to century, from two sets of characters united by a very fast horse. Although I usually prefer actual paper text, in this case I listened to the audiobook, which was brilliantly performed by several narrators. Their differing voices and accents made it easy to follow the characters." --Kathleen C., patron at Dimond

Lessons in Chemistry "While this is (ostensibly) a lightweight story, it makes one think about how far women have come since the 1950s. The charactersare well drawn and the plot is not predictable. A refreshing read, that is simultaneously humorous and thoughtful." --jjjeanie, patron at Rockridge

Promenade of Desire, opens a new window [Available via Link+] "Fascinating, multi-faceted story of a proper, Catholic girl growing up in Barcelona, Spain who comes into adulthood at the same time the also Catholic fascism regime comes down and democracy and free love emerge. Full of interesting character studies, an ode to music and especially dance as an expression of self. Promiscuous, ambitious, flamboyant, pensive - and so much more. May also make you want to visit Barcelona. " --Helena M., patron at Lakeview