Well, it’s been a hell of a year so far.
Sometimes you need to escape.
Just break away for an hour and reboot.
Thanks to Covid-19, that is easier said than done.
And that is why we are so grateful to have some amazing reading material to tide us over until we can go out again.
The book world is diversifying and some of the best books of 2022 are written by women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. From sci-fi to memoirs to cookbooks, this list has something for everyone.
The best new books of 2022 are a collection of stories designed to question, challenge, and inspire. They shed light on important issues while transporting the reader to a different time. They present a diverse narrative that the world needs right now.
Whether through witty banter or dark comedy, these stories share the lives of real and fictitious characters in a way that leaves an indelible print on the mind of the reader.
The ability to weave a magic spell through words and immerse the reader in a world of wonder, heartbreak, and history is a gift that these authors have.
These are some of the best-selling books of 2022:
1. Things We Lost to The Water by Eric Nguyen
This poignant novel is centered on the ideas of family and home. Taking place over 27 years, this multigenerational story asks some big questions and makes us think about how our relationships are shaped by where we come from.
Following the lives of a Vietnamese family forced to flee Saigon, Things We Lost to The Water, challenges our ideas about immigration in America and the effect it can have on families.
Huong and her two sons try to make a new life for themselves in New Orleans, but the shadow of the Husband and Father they left behind, informs everything that they do. The brothers, Tuan and Binh, choose very different paths in their new lives. The idea that familial connections are essential to our sense of self and ability to create a new home are explored through water metaphors. This beautifully written story should definitely be on your reading list and is one of the best new books of 2022.
2. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Another breath-taking story set in America is The Four Winds. Telling the story of the Great Depression through the eyes of the indomitable Elsa Wolcott, the reader is transported to the Great Plains in 1934.
It was a time of devastation, starvation, and desperation. Elsa’s journey is one of a wife, trying to hold her marriage together, a mother trying to keep her children alive, and a woman fighting for the life she wants.
The story is woven with tales of strength and determination and shows the resilience of the human spirit. It brings into focus the harsh realities of inequality in American society and the fight of a nation to protect and preserve their American dream.
Kristin Hannah has masterfully brought a very human experience to this historical time, while also making the reader aware of how similar the themes are to current times. She has beautifully depicted the importance of friendship and the lengths a mother will go to for her children.
It is being hailed as the new American classic and is definitely one of the best books to read in 2022. Just don’t forget the tissues.
3. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Another novel telling the story of unique and bold women is The Lost Apothecary. It is a compelling story full of secrets and intrigue, with the emancipation of women at its core, making it one of the best new books of 2022.
With its dual past and present format, it intricately links the history of its heroines and immerses the reader in a world of feminine power and dark mystery.
In a world where women are speaking out and fighting against sexism and inequality, a story about an elusive 18th-century apothecary dealing in poisons to free oppressed women is delicious! Add in a modern mystery, the meeting of past and present, and the connection of strong female personalities and you have a novel that is definitely worth a read.
4. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
The Author of The Martian has done it again with this witty sci-fi story based on a high school science teacher sent into space to save Earth. Ryland Grace wakes up after an induced coma and can’t remember who he is or what he is doing.
Not the best start when the fate of the world depends on you successfully completing your mission.
It is a book full of twists and turns, with Grace soon realizing he is not alone on the spaceship, despite the fact that his two crewmates are mummified corpses.
It explores the ideas of friendship and self-discovery and sprinkles in liberal doses of science and futuristic technology. It is a book that makes you think and is an interesting spin on the End-of-the-World trope commonly found in sci-fi novels.
5. Madhouse at The End of The Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into The dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton
If you are fascinated by real historical events then Madhouse at The End of The Earth is for you. Sancton tells the story of the crew of the Belgica and their harrowing experience trapped in ice and darkness for 3.5 months in Antarctica.
With exclusive access to the ship’s logbook and using information from the crew’s journals, Sancton gives us a detailed account of the madness and illness the crew experienced. He masterfully weaves the story of the motley crew and their ill-fated adventure.
This book reads like fiction so the fact that it is based on real events only makes it more compelling. Sancton brings the story to life and you can’t help but become engrossed in the horror of the story.
6. Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott
If there was ever a book pertinent to the current social and ecological climate of 2022 then Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage is it.
In the book, Anne Lamott grapples with the existential questions we are all finding ourselves faced with at the moment. The grim reality of the climate crisis and the absolute inability for humans to live with empathy and kindness has left many people feeling exhausted and disheartened.
Lamott provides real and human answers for those needing help finding the joy in life. She says love and connection are the best way to cultivate happiness.
It is another superbly written book that is filled with the humor and honesty we have come to expect from Lamott.
7. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
This beautiful story will tug at your heartstrings as Michelle Zauner explores what her Korean heritage means to her against the backdrop of her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis.
Struggling with her identity in a small Oregon town and dealing with her mother’s extremely high expectations, Zauner explores the issues of family and identity in an honest and real way.
The bond between mothers and daughters is often fraught with a mixture of emotions. This book shows the unique and deep connection of Zauner to her mother, her heritage, and the identity she has created for herself.
Food, family, and grief are the central themes and through them, Zauner has shared a heartbreakingly relatable story that will make you want to pick up the phone and call your mom.
8. Aftershocks: A Memoir by Nadia Owusu
This is a “search for identity” narrative that tells the story of Nadia Owusu as she fights to build a life for herself despite the upheaval she experienced growing up.
Using Earthquake metaphors, Owusu takes us on a journey through her fractured life and how important events have shaped the woman she is today.
Abandoned by her mother at age 4 and orphaned with the death of her father at age 13, Owusu was forced to face the many facets of her identity and grapple with issues that would eventually lead to a breakdown.
Growing up in several countries around the world and being an outsider in all them because of her mixed-race heritage, has led Owusu to explore her upbringing and identity through vivid story-telling.
9. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
The Young Adult genre has gained popularity in recent years and Firekeeper’s Daughter is an innovative thriller leading the charge.
Boulley calls her book an “indigenous Nancy Drew” novel, following the story of 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine. After witnessing a murder, Daunis becomes tangled in a dangerous web by becoming an FBI informant.
She quickly realizes that the complicated undercurrents of inherent racism against Native peoples mean that nothing is what it seems. Boulley embroils her readers in a plot filled with death, danger, drugs, and romance.
She also beautifully shares her Ojibwe heritage and there has long been a need to have Indigenous stories told, particularly for young people.
10. Amari and The Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
For the younger readers in your home, Amari and The Night Brothers is a book that will immerse them in a magical world filled with wonder, adventure, and friendship.
This relatable novel tells the story of Amari, a young girl battling to fit in at school and worried about her missing brother. After being invited to interview for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, Amari is plunged into a world of magic and mystery.
Fighting monsters, forging friendships, and discovering courage, this book will have your young readers hooked until the last page. The importance of a Black main character, particularly in the fantasy genre, can’t be overlooked.
Alston shares the message that being unique is a superpower. Learning to accept yourself as you are is an amazing gift, making this one of the best books to read in 2022 for kids.
11. The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen
This hard-hitting memoir is written in three compelling volumes, sharing the life of Danish poet and fiction writer, Tove Ditlevsen.
Written from a child-like perspective, Ditlevsen tells her story unapologetically and with an endearing naivete. It was a life lived hard, in fits and starts. Ditlevsen married 4 times, had 3 children, and a serious drug addiction. Yet her story is told in a captivatingly simplistic way that leaves the reader laughing at her antics rather than dwelling on the depressing nature of events.
It is a story about escapism and the need to break free from convention. Ditlevsen rails against the traditional role of women- wife, mother, home-maker. She chooses an unconventional path, in defiance of her childhood, societal expectations, and the boredom of life.
The work of female authors is finally coming to the fore and The Copenhagen Trilogy is a masterful example of the power of a woman’s written word.
12. Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
This book has had some mixed reviews but the common thread is that the Nobel Laureate Ishiguro, once again asks his readers to consider the hard questions. To look at society, at our lives, and see the disconnect we seem to be experiencing as humans.
Klara is an Artificial Friend bought by a 14-year-old, sickly Josie and her mother. They are a wealthy family and the idea of class disparity is looked at through Josie’s relationships with those around her.
Klara is extremely perceptive, and it is through her direct narration that the reader sees the lonely, distanced world of the future. It begs the reader to think about what makes us human. Is it our ability to love? If so, is that possible for artificial intelligence?
Ishiguro beautifully weaves his story from the heart-breaking moments of life and offers up the idea that it is the devastating ability to feel that makes our short lives worthwhile.
13. No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
This is a book that you will be talking about. And you should be! It offers an edgy, subversive look at the obsession we all have with being online.
“The Portal” as the narrator refers to it, is a vortex of instant gratification and constant scrolling. When the narrator has a post go viral, she is submerged in the murky waters of the internet. She travels the world but spends more time in the online space than in the countries she is visiting.
When she receives word from her mother that something has gone dangerously wrong with her sister’s pregnancy, she is pulled back to the ‘real’ world.
Through the NICU, the tragic but brilliant life of the baby, her immersion in family, and the call of genuine human connection, the protagonist is left pondering “The Portal” and its ability to consume our lives.
14. The Fourth Child by Jessica Winter
In The Fourth Child, Winter explores the complex mother-daughter relationship in all its nuanced intricacy.
Telling the story of Jane and her daughter Lauren, the reader is taken on a tumultuous journey. Topics such as parental relationships, body autonomy, international adoption, Catholicism, and abortion are explored with sensitivity.
Jane Brennan has an unplanned pregnancy that changes the course of her life. Rather than the dream career, she marries her high school boyfriend and has 2 more children. An unhappy marriage and search for self-fulfillment lead her to a local pro-life group. She also adopts a troubled Romanian girl which changes her family dynamics.
With her eldest daughter in an intense relationship with a teacher and difficulties with her adopted daughter, Jane is forced to face the harsh intersection of her beliefs and her desire to protect her daughters.
This story is an evocative and relevant account of the complexities of mother-daughter relationships.
15. Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
This highly anticipated novel is about a Black woman’s search for freedom. From the racial and class divides so prevalent in society, as well the oppressive expectations of her mother.
The story draws inspiration from Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward. She was the third African-American woman to become a doctor in the United States.
The aptly named protagonist, Libertie, was raised by her doctor mother, who expected her to go into practice with her. Libertie however, has a passion for music.
After encountering colorism and classism at University, Libertie meets a young Haitian doctor. He proposes and promises a life of freedom in Haiti.
Libertie, eager to escape her mother’s oppressive expectations and lured by the dream of a black utopia, moves to Haiti.
All is not as it seems though, and the story explores what freedom really looks like for women in a patriarchal society. Aspects of history not often found in fiction are revealed in this novel which makes it a must-read.
16. Infinite Country by Patricia Engel
If there was ever a novel suited to recent immigration issues in the US then this is it.
Essentially an immigrant’s chronicle of love, home, and dislocation, Infinite Country rapidly takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster.
From a Catholic Juvenile Detention Centre to the streets of New Jersey, the story follows Talia and her fragmented family as they try and reunite. As Talia travels across Colombia back to her father in Bogota, the details of her family are revealed.
Her parents’ teenage romance, their move to America, and the subsequent splitting of the family serve to shed light on the cruel immigration practices of the US. The details of the family’s history are set against Talia’s race to Bogota to catch a flight that will see her reunited with her mother and siblings.
It is a fast-paced, somewhat disjointed novel, that leaves the reader questioning the American dream and the sacrifices that go along with it.
17. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Long-listed for The Women’s Prize, Detransition, Baby explores the intricacies and struggles of trans women. It is without a doubt one of the best new books of 2022.
The novel follows the journey of two transgendered women, Reece and Amy, and cisgendered Katrina as they contemplate the idea of raising a baby together.
Reece and Amy’s relationship falls apart when Amy decides to detransition. Reece is left desperately wanting a baby but not having the means as a single woman and Ames is left with mixed feelings about leaving Reece.
In the process, Ames develops a relationship with his boss, Katrina, and against the odds, she falls pregnant. Katrina is unsure about the unexpected pregnancy but Ames sees a possibility for himself, Katrina, and Reese to form an unconventional family.
This was a book that could only have been entrusted to a transgendered author and Torrey Peters has created an exceptionally honest novel.
18. The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo
Something a bit different but no less gripping or thought-provoking is The Book of Difficult Fruit. Based alphabetically on unusual or forgotten fruits, this book is a mixture of cookbook and personal history.
Lebo deftly layers culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic uses for a selection of fruits that you might not have heard of. These are liberally sprinkled with personal anecdotes, making this more than just a book for foodies.
Fruit is generally thought of as a sweet snack but Lebo uses lesser-known fruits to embrace the idea that food can be healing or harmful. To our bodies, but also to the connections we share with one another.
She beautifully illustrates the ways that our relationship with diet informs our daily lives and provides food for thought regarding the work we put into both.
19. Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert
It is no surprise that a book like Under a White Sky is on this list. Any book list for 2022 would need to include one on the current climate crisis, and Elizabeth Kolbert has done an exceptional job of reporting from the front-lines of those communities fighting to address the current climate conditions.
The book explores some radical solutions to the climate crisis such as geoengineering which proposes shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to reflect the sun’s rays and cool the planet. This would turn the sky white instead of blue, hence the title of the book.
It isn’t easy reading but it is necessary reading. Humans have caused nature to reach a breaking point and radical scientific thinking might be the only way to pull us back from the edge.
20. In the Quick by Kate Hope Day
A strongly feminist story at heart, In the Quick, is about a female astronaut out to save a lost spaceship and preserve her uncle’s legacy.
June was raised by her Aunt, and Uncle and was always fascinated by science and space. Her Uncle fostered her passion and, on his death, June goes into astronaut training. Fast forward 6 years and she is no longer the awkward girl in training, but rather a confident and brilliant engineer.
When the Inquiry goes missing, her uncle’s revolutionary fuel cells are blamed. June begins an investigation into the cells as she believes that the crew of the Inquiry is still alive. She gets involved in a volatile relationship with her Uncle’s protege and the mystery of the missing spacecraft deepens.
Day has created an intense sci-fi thriller with a compelling human story while keeping the science accessible.
21. Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley
An interesting and unique take on the idea of home and property ownership, Hot Stew delves into the history of Soho through one building and its eclectic inhabitants.
When Agatha, an heiress with a dicey family legacy and a heart of stone, wants to develop an old Soho building, the residents take action. Led by Tabitha and Precious, two sex workers, a slew of residents fights for their home.
The idea of the interconnection of human relationships and the issue of disenfranchisement comes to the fore in this gritty, witty, and real story.
22. Fierce Poise by Alexander Nemerov
Focusing on Frankenthaler’s most formative creative years, the 1950s, Nemerov quickly takes us on a journey through post-war New York. With each chapter representing a year, we get a glimpse into the world Frankenthaler inhabited. She came from wealth and privilege but it was her ambition and savvy connections that solidified her place in the art world.
Inspired by Pollock and other abstract expressionists, Frankenthaler was bold in her life and her work. She was determined to succeed in a male-dominated society and create in a way authentic to her.
23. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
The opioid crisis in the US is no secret, and Empire of Pain is an in-depth look at the infamous Sackler family. Creating the drug that was the catalyst for a nationwide epidemic, they built an empire on the pain of millions.
This story is intriguing and Radden Keefe does a credible job of reporting the antics of three generations of Sackler family members. Through deceptive marketing and blatant denial of the dangers of drugs like OxyContin, Purdue Pharma has infiltrated the medical field in an unprecedented way.
They have created a link between drug companies and profits that has forever changed the way the industry functions.
Radden Keefe beliefs that the family “bear significant moral responsibility” for the current dire opioid crisis in America and the book certainly shares these sentiments.
24. Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal
This is a coming-of-age story about a young decorative painter. Paula Karst and her friends Kate and Jonas, spend a rigorous year studying their craft.
Through late nights, obsessive episodes of painting, romance, and conflict the trio form a bond that they will share for life.
After immersing herself in the world of decorative painting, Paula travels to Lascaux to work on replicas of prehistoric cave paintings. It is the intersection of Art and History that allows Paula to learn about herself and feel vindicated in her choice of career.
Kerangal is less concerned with plot as she is about aesthetics, leaving the reader with an evocative story rich in words and imagery.
25. Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah Schulman
This powerful book documents the incredible way ACT UP changed the course of US history in its fight against HIV/AIDS. Made up of a diverse group of people, the coalition achieved unprecedented success in just 6 years.
Schulman has compiled a comprehensive history of the strategies that made ACT UP such an effective organization. From early success with fundraising to the “Inside/Outside strategy”, Schulman shares the reasons for the success and disintegration of ACT UP in the hopes that others can learn from it.
The 188 testimonies of ACT UP members bring an in-depth and personal aspect to the facts, making the highly politicized epidemic more human.
And there you have it, 25 of the best books of 2022…
The ever-changing social, political and ecological landscape has provided a fertile breeding ground for an incredible array of literature.
Authors have the unique gift of helping us grapple with big questions that bring fear but also inform.
They can transport us to new worlds or ones that are familiar. They can challenge us to explore ourselves and the world around us.
The power of words to connect us is more vital than ever in today’s fragmented society. The books on this list have all got something powerful to say, so will you listen?