Seattle's Child

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Best books of 2022

KCLS’ Best Books of 2022

Staff-picked top books of the year are great for reading or gift giving.

Best Books of 2022:

The King County Library System’s (KCLS) annual Best Books list has arrived! Here are a few of KCLS’ favorite titles from 2022, chosen by staff from across the Library System. Find your Best Book — and get gift ideas for the book lovers on your holiday list — at

Best Books of 2022: Adult

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt 

Staff: Sona, Library page

When Tova starts working at the local aquarium, she doesn’t expect to befriend a giant octopus named Marcellus. Grumpy Marcellus usually avoids his human captors, but Tova is different. When Marcellus learns that Tova’s son vanished in Puget Sound, he will do anything to solve the mystery and help his new friend. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, author Shelby Van Pelt’s heartwarming debut examines loneliness and the transformative power of friendship in a truly remarkable way.



Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation by Linda Villarosa

Staff: James, library page

Author and journalism professor Linda Villarosa reveals the centuries-long link between structural racism and healthcare discrimination in this chilling exposé. “Under the Skin” presents compelling personal accounts, studies and statistical analysis to show how racism affects Black Americans’ health and quality of life.


A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers 

Staff: Kait, public services assistant

“A Prayer for the Crown-Shy” is the second installment of Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot sci-fi series. Book two follows Sibling Dex and Mosscap the robot on a poetic journey to contemplate humanity, consumerism and true happiness. An enchanting page-turner with seamless world-building, this cozy novella is a hopeful and poignant read.


The Worth of Water: Our Story of Chasing Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenge by Gary White and Matt Damon 

Staff: Debera, communications/copy specialist

“The Worth of Water” explores the pursuit of global environmental justice with respect to clean water, written by two unlikely “teammates” — actor, producer and screenwriter Matt Damon; and water sanitation engineer Gary White. The pair cofounded and WaterEquity, two innovative nonprofits that focus on facilitating and financing water and sanitation projects around the world. The authors’ commitment to end the water crisis is truly inspiring.


Best Books of 2022: Children/Teens


The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith 

Staff: Marriam, public services assistant

I love this poetic picture book because it brings the past to life in fresh ways. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery Honor-winning author Renée Watson, “The 1619 Project” portrays the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States. It teaches the importance of knowing and understanding where you come from; history is powerful.


The Red Palace by June Hur

Staff: Brenna, teen materials selector

“The Red Palace” is a fascinating piece of historical fiction set in 1758 Korea. A ghastly night of murders throws the capital city into chaos and suspicion falls on the Crown Prince. Readers follow an unlikely pair — an intrepid nurse and an amateur inspector — as they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth. June Hur’s latest book packs murder, mystery, historical court intrigue and romance into one gripping read.



Breathe and Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester 

Staff: Genesis, public services assistant

Verónica is a first-generation Peruvian American teen diagnosed with hip dysplasia. She loves swimming — both for her physical and mental health — and she dreams of becoming a professional mermaid at a popular Floridian attraction. But her strict immigrant parents do not approve. Author Natalia Sylvester expertly addresses bodily autonomy, societal expectations and family dynamics as Verónica takes control of her body and her future.


Isla to Island by Alexis Castellanos 

Staff: Anne, assistant operations mkanager

“Isla to Island” is a spectacular debut by local graphic designer Alexis Castellanos. Fearing for her safety during Castro’s regime in 1960s Cuba, Marisol’s parents send her to Brooklyn, New York. In lieu of text, Castellanos’ rich and symbolic illustrations guide readers through Marisol’s journey as she attempts to redefine her notion of family and home. I particularly enjoyed the clever use of red to help depict Marisol’s happiness throughout the graphic novel.


More from KCLS in Seattle’s Child:

Look back: Best books of 2021 as chosen by King County Library System staff

Monthly book picks from KCLS youth and family services manager Rekha Kuver

Get the latest book news by signing up for the Book Corner newsletter


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King County Library System