For the sixth year in a row, here is the annual update to my list of The 105 Best Philosophical Novels. Based on curated lists from The New York Times, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly and more, suggestions from readers on Goodreads, and ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, these four works of philosophical fiction stood out in 2022.
For more philosophical reading, download these two pieces of bonus content:
- Philosophical fiction recommendations from thirteen contemporary philosophical fiction authors like Peter Watts, Khaled Hosseini and Daniel Quinn.
- A one-page PDF shopping guide to the complete list of The Best Philosophical Novels.
You can access both of these free resources using the form below. And now, on with The Best Philosophical Fiction of 2022!
4. The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
The teenage duchess Lucrezia de’ Medici, a last-minute marriage substitute after the sudden death of her older sister, suspects that her husband intends to murder her in this Renaissance historical drama. The Guardian called The Marriage Portrait one of the top fiction books of the year, and it was a Goodreads Choice Award finalist in historical fiction.
3. Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R. F. Kuang
A Chinese-British student of translation and magic finds himself torn between serving Oxford’s Royal Institute of Translation and betraying his motherland. Kuang’s fantastical take on colonial resistance was named one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year by The New York Times, The Guardian and Amazon and was a Goodreads Choice Award finalist in fantasy.
2. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver reimagines Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield in modern-day Appalachia, where young Demon struggles to survive amid poverty, opioid addiction and the increasing invisibility of rural America. Demon Copperhead was a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post bestseller and a semifinalist in fiction in the Goodreads Choice Awards.
1. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
A female chemist turned single mother and reluctant cooking show star pushes back against 1960s sexual inequality. Amazon, The New York Times, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek and The Guardian recognized Lessons in Chemistry as one of the best books of the year, and it won the Goodreads Choice Award for best debut novel.