The Top Fiction of 2022, According to 74 Lists

Kimberly Johnson
5 min readJan 5, 2023

Happy New Year! Once again, I’ve compiled a bunch of end-of-year “Best Books” lists to see what comes up over and over again, because it’s consistently a great source for my own reading, and maybe yours too.

This year, I sourced 74 lists across the web. Here’s what bubbled to the top:

Skeptical? Don’t want your least favorite news source taking up space? You can select just the lists you want here. That link will also let you browse books beyond the Top 19.

And, as a repeat from last year, here are some musings on list accuracy:

  1. Precision: which lists have entries most likely to be in the Top 19? (# of Top 19 entries divided by list length)

    Short lists have an advantage in precision: if you just named your favorite book and it happens to be on the Top 19, you have 100% precision! The New York Times Book Review is a good example of this: they only listed 5 fiction books, so when 4 of them are in the Top 19, they have very high precision. Taking a book rec from the New York Times Book Review gives you a high chance of a “good book”, but you’ll run out of books quickly.
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  2. Recall: which lists mentioned the most Top 19 books? (# of Top 19 entries divided by 19.)

    Long lists have a similar advantage in recall: if you listed all books published in 2021, you would have 100% recall but very low precision. The top 5 highest-recall lists are mostly over 70 books long, but most are well-under 50% precision. If you read all the books on Chicago Public Library’s list, you’ll eventually get to almost all the very top ones, but it’ll take you awhile.
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  3. Accuracy: so, how to combine precision and recall? Something called the F-score. I’ll let wikipedia explain the math.

    Similar to Precision, this still favors shorter lists in my dataset, but you’ll notice that the shortest ones (like the New York Times Book Review) disappear due to their lower recall. “BookPage Best Fiction” is at the top here; I can’t tell you exactly why they’re perfectly in the zeitgeist, but they are.

That’s all for 2022’s Adult Fiction. I’m also compiling “Best YA of 2022” (to source books for the podcast I produce, Literary Connections), so hopefully you’ll see that here soon.

Past years:

Tools used: webscraper.io to find the books, Google Sheets to list them, and Looker Data Studio for the pretty graphs above.

No thanks this year to the Data Studio/Medium embed function, which has worked great in past years but doesn’t give me anything nice this year, and/or something has changed and I’m doing it wrong. Here’s what I’m able to embed, if you want to check out the Data Studio report directly:

Finally, the list of lists, for the curious.
Note: Count of fiction books may slightly overestimate, as I did not categorize long-tail books that were only on 1–2 lists, which let me avoid manually categorizing 650 books. So what I actually mean here is“(N books that I have not explicitly marked as nonfiction)”.

  1. Amazon Best Lit and Fiction (10 fiction books)
  2. Apartment Therapy (5 fiction books)
  3. Barnes and Noble (10 fiction books)
  4. BBC (44 fiction books)
  5. Booker longlist (13 fiction books)
  6. Bookforum (13 fiction books)
  7. BookPage Best Fiction (17 fiction books)
  8. Bookriot (25 fiction books)
  9. Bookshop.org Staff Picks (9 fiction books)
  10. Boston Globe (15 fiction books)
  11. Buzzfeed News (20 fiction books)
  12. Chicago Public Library (76 fiction books)
  13. Chicago Tribune (Fiction) (9 fiction books)
  14. Christian Science Monitor (12 fiction books)
  15. Elle (10 fiction books)
  16. Entertainment Weekly (9 fiction books)
  17. Esquire (41 fiction books)
  18. Fast Company (7 fiction books)
  19. Financial Times (14 fiction books)
  20. Five Books (5 fiction books)
  21. Glamour (39 fiction books)
  22. Good Housekeeping (48 fiction books)
  23. Good Housekeeping UK (20 fiction books)
  24. Goodreads Choice Fiction (20 fiction books)
  25. Goop (3 fiction books)
  26. Kirkus Prize Fiction (5 fiction books)
  27. Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction (9 fiction books)
  28. Library Journal (Literary Fiction) (10 fiction books)
  29. Literary Hub Best Reviewed (10 fiction books)
  30. Literary Hub Favorites (32 fiction books)
  31. Los Angeles Times (13 fiction books)
  32. Los Angeles Times Holiday Gift Guide (15 fiction books)
  33. Mashable TikTok Favorites (27 fiction books)
  34. National Book Awards Longlist (10 fiction books)
  35. New York Post (16 fiction books)
  36. New York Times Book Review (5 fiction books)
  37. New York Times Critics’ Picks (4 fiction books)
  38. New York Times Notable (73 fiction books)
  39. NPR Fresh Air (6 fiction books)
  40. NPR Staff Picks (116 fiction books)
  41. NY Public Library Best Books for Adults (10 fiction books)
  42. Obama’s Favorites (8 fiction books)
  43. Oprah Daily (37 fiction books)
  44. PBS News Hour (6 fiction books)
  45. People Magazine (7 fiction books)
  46. Powell’s Best Fiction (27 fiction books)
  47. Publishers Weekly Best Books (5 fiction books)
  48. Reader’s Digest ( fiction books)
  49. Real Simple (43 fiction books)
  50. Salon ( fiction books)
  51. Seattle Times ( fiction books)
  52. She Reads (10 fiction books)
  53. Shelf Awareness (10 fiction books)
  54. Slate (8 fiction books)
  55. Slate / books editor (10 fiction books)
  56. The Atlantic (5 fiction books)
  57. The Economist (6 fiction books)
  58. The Guardian (42 fiction books)
  59. The Hollywood Reporter ( fiction books)
  60. The Marginalian (13 fiction books)
  61. The New Yorker (13 fiction books)
  62. The Philadelphia Inquirer (8 fiction books)
  63. Time’s Best Fiction (10 fiction books)
  64. Time’s Must-Read Books (73 fiction books)
  65. Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice (48 fiction books)
  66. Town & Country (8 fiction books)
  67. USA Today (15 fiction books)
  68. Vanity Fair (24 fiction books)
  69. Vogue (39 fiction books)
  70. Vox (11 fiction books)
  71. Vulture (33 fiction books)
  72. Washington Post Best Books (5 fiction books)
  73. Washington Post Notable Fiction (50 fiction books)
  74. Wired (9 fiction books)

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