Every year thousands of our readers vote for their favorite books of the year in the She Reads Awards. Find out more about the books that were nominated and see which book was voted the Best Book Club Pick of 2022.
The winner of the Best Book Club Pick of 2022 is . . .
The Measure by Nikki Erlick
When a small wooden box appears on every doorstep in the world, everything changes. Inside the box is a string, which, when measured, indicates the exact number of years each person will live. The story follows a cast of eight different characters whose fates intertwine as the consequences of this new world unfold: A pair of best friends whose futures are entangled, two pen pals seeking solace in the unknown, a couple who thought they’d have more time, a doctor with an unfixable diagnosis, and a politician whose box becomes the catalyst that changes everything.
The nominees for Best Book Club Pick of 2022 are:
Honor by Thrity Umrigar
Honor follows the evolving story of two couples from culturally different backgrounds. Smita is an Indian American journalist and Meena is a Hindu woman from an Indian village. After Meena is attacked by her family and members of her village for marrying a Muslim man, Smita returns to India — where she thought she would never return — to tell Meena’s story. When Smita begins to fall for Mohan, a man she meets while in India, the difference between her and Meena’s situations becomes even more apparent: Smita is free to date Mohan and explore their relationship before making a long-term commitment. Meanwhile, Meena’s fate hangs in the balance. Both women show courage as they navigate and balance tradition, familial obligations, and being true to themselves.
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
In the summer of 1995, ten-year-old Joan, her mother and her sister are fleeing to seek refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis, away from her father’s explosive temper. However, this isn’t the first time violence has altered the course of the family’s trajectory. Half a century earlier, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass, only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in the city. As Joan tries to settle into her new life, family secrets start to cast a shadow, and she finds relief in her artwork, painting portraits of the community in Memphis. Miss Dawn is one of Joan’s subjects, claims to know about curses, and her stories about the past help Joan see that all of her passion and hope are, in fact, the continuation of a long matrilineal tradition. And Joan begins to understand the perseverance, the impossible choices, and the dreams the women who came before her put on hold so that her life would not have to be defined by loss and anger.
Mother In the Dark by Kayla Maiuri
Anna’s childhood was unconventional. She and her sister spent their time watching their loving mother bounce from tenderness to bitterness and back again, always waiting for her unpredictable nature to show. Years later, Anna gets an urgent call from her sister about their mother that risks destroying the life she has precariously built for herself in New York. Told in an alternating timeline from Anna’s childhood and her twenties, this novel examines the effects of an unstable childhood, and the way these traumas form the future generations.
Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach
Sally Holt and her older sister Kathy are very different, but one of the few things they’ve always shared was their infatuation with Billy Barnes. It’s not until Sally starts eighth grade that Billy begins to notice the sisters, and Sally can’t help but watch with confusion and anticipation as Kathy falls deeper in love with him. But when tragedy strikes, Billy’s and Sally’s lives become forever intertwined. Spanning two decades, this is a stirring coming-of-age story about love, loss, and the bonds that are formed in the darkest of times.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
At eighteen years old, Tova Sullivan’s son, Erik, inexplicably vanished on a boat in Puget Sound. Now, thirty years later, Tova works the night shift cleaning the Sowell Bay Aquarium, trying to keep busy after her husband’s passing. There, she forms an unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus named Marcellus, who knows more than anyone can believe. Marcellus has solved the mystery of Tova’s son’s disappearance, and now he must find a way to reveal the truth to her before it’s too late. A heartwarming tale about grief, captivity, friendship, and remarkably bright creatures, this story is sure to leave readers touched and longing for their own cephalopod companion.
The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani
Based on a true story, this dual-timeline saga spans 100 years while chronicling four generations of strong, fierce Italian women and their loves, losses, secrets and heartaches. Relayed through the matriarchs’ flashbacks, the story depicts the fallout from the sinking of the Arandora Star by a German U-boat and all that follows as a result. As the two timelines come together, long-buried and surprising secrets are revealed as Trigiani addresses the universal themes of identity and belonging.
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
Frida Liu is having a very bad day, and because of one moment of poor judgement, she must prove that she can be a good mother or she will lose her daughter. She doesn’t have the support she needs: a career that is not worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices, and a husband that refuses to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Her daughter, Harriet, is the only thing that Frida has done right, and now she must risk it all to be redeemed. A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love.
The Swimmers by Julia Otsuka
The swimmers take comfort in their routines. They know each other only by which lanes they swim in (slow, medium, fast), and enjoy the rhythmic predictability of their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of their pool, the swimmers must learn to live in a world that is unforgiving and unexpected. This includes Alice, for whom the pool was an escape from her looming dementia. Without it, she’s plunged into disorienting memories from childhood and war. Alice’s estranged daughter attempts to reconnect with her and is forced to witness her mother’s devastating decline. A moving story about the power of love and the importance of finding beauty in the mundane, The Swimmers is powerful, graceful, and real.
These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany
Malek, Kees and Jenna are three young Muslim women who have been friends since childhood. Together, they navigate a complicated reality in which faith, family, love and happiness are often at odds. As college students who are nearing graduation, the women are at the precipice of true adulthood and face life-changing decisions. Kees must decide if she will marry the white Catholic man with whom she’s been in a relationship with, but whom her family would never approve of. Malek will do anything to coexist happily with her family and community, but will she sacrifice her own happiness? Jenna’s feelings of loneliness threaten to overcome her. Then, one night, harsh truths are revealed that change everything.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
‘Twas the night before Alice’s 40th birthday, and she doesn’t really have anything to complain about. She enjoys her job, even if it wasn’t exactly what she expected. She likes her apartment, her relationship status, her independence, and she loves her best friend. The only thing seemingly amiss is her ailing father. Yet, when she awakens on the day of her birthday, she finds herself in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. You’d think it would be the new—well, old—adolescent body that shocks her, but it doesn’t. The only thing that shocks her is her dad, the vital, charming 40-something version of her father. Now able to take on a new perspective of not only herself, but him, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?
True Biz by Sara Novic
A book that dives into the heart of the deaf community and explores themes of love, loss, belonging, injustice, and persistence. In True Biz, the lives of three people at River Valley School, a residential school for the deaf, are inter-connected and influenced by one another. Charlie is a rebel who has come to River Valley to meet others from the deaf community for the first time. Another student, Austin, is reeling when his parents give birth to a hearing child. Meanwhile, the school’s headmistress, a CODA (child of deaf adults) fights to keep the school open and her life together under the pressure.