Feature photo @WordsWithMads
For book lovers, there’s nothing much better than summer days spent reading, especially if it’s alongside friends who are up for a book club discussion. And while there are numerous amazing book club picks out there—like this one—we wanted to focus on 2022 indie books that you may have not heard of—but that we can’t get enough of. We’ve made it easy with the selections below; something for every book club sure to spark endless conversations.
The History of Man by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu
Set in an unnamed African country, History of Man explores the life of middle-aged civil servant Emil Coetzee. When the war ends, Emil feels he is left without purpose. He came a long way from the boy he used to be, attending a privileged boarding school, falling in love, and becoming a man. But the end of the conflict leaves him feeling adrift, forcing him to reflect and discover who he has become, and who he wants to be.
My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi
A unique and riveting story, My Volcano is a tapestry that displays the personal trials and tribulations of several characters when a volcano begins to overtake New York City. A young boy discovers he can time travel in Mexico City; a Nigerian scholar in Tokyo examines literature about a deadly woman on fire; a trans writer living in Jersey grapples with a tale of civilization in an impossible world; a nurse tends to Syrian refugees while trying to overcome her own trauma; a farmer transforms into a wild creature after being stung by a bee in Mongolia. Each of these unique stories interweave against the backdrop of an environmental disaster, exploring ideas of climate change, reality, and the human struggle.
The Believer by Sarah Krasnostein
Sarah Krasnostein examines the pasts of several very different people to uncover the beliefs that unite us. The profiles explored in this collection of essays are those of a death doula, a geologist, a ghost-hunting neurobiologist, the fiancée of a missing man, a domestic abuse victim accused of murder, and New York Mennonite families. Krasnostein elegantly bridges the gaps between those who have very little in common by highlighting aspects of the human condition that tie us all together.
Border Less by Namrata Poddar
Border Less is a story that explores the perspectives of immigrants across all classes, with Dia Mittal at the forefront. Mittal travels to America in search of a better life, and her story is followed using the experiences of call center agents, travel agents, immigrant maids, hustling single mothers, academics, and refugees, amongst many others. Border Less challenges the typical western novel by providing a series of interconnected stories that encompass the triumphs and obstacles of immigrant life.
New to Liberty by DeMisty D. Bellinger
Three women from different decades fight for love and independence in rural Kansas. In 1966, Sissily travels to California with an older man, stopping at his family ranch outside Liberty, Kansas. There she meets his mother and begins to suspect the woman might be keeping secrets of her own. In 1947, Nella starts a relationship with a white man named Lucky after her family relocates to Liberty. When they’re caught meeting up in secret, Nella must face the consequences of the racist society she’s growing up in. In 1933, Greta is surrounded by violence and famine during the peak of the Dust Bowl. The only bright spot is her connection with a woman from the neighboring farm. Their relationship might not be sustainable, but its impact will carry on for generations. A tale of three connected women who grow and challenge the roles that society has placed upon them.
Andrea Hoffman Goes All In by Diane Cohen Schneider
Andrea Hoffman, well-educated and underemployed, is launched into the world of finance when a robbery takes place in 1980s Chicago. Despite the obstacles that come with being a Jewish woman in finance, Andrea finds herself immersed in the field, fascinated by trading, the stock market, and her ruthless colleagues. As her career takes off, her lifestyle changes drastically, and soon Andrea finds herself spiralling into a world of drinks, drugs, and casual sex. Is this what success looks like? Andrea will ultimately have to decide what she wants out of life and who she wants to be.
Buck’s Pantry by Khristin Wierman
The lives of three women intertwine in a small Texas town when unpredictable circumstances bring them together. Gillian, former prom queen and a mother of three, begins to question her beliefs and the reality of her comfortable life; Lianna is desperate to close a deal and return to her life in New York; Aimee dreams of an existence unburdened by looming mental illness. When the three women find themselves in an unthinkable situation, Aimee might be their last hope.
A Sky of Infinite Blue by Kyomi O’Connor
After moving to the States from Japan to escape the darkness of her past, Kyomi starts a job as a researcher working at NIH in Bethesda, MD. She soon falls in love with Patrick, a British cancer researcher who teaches her to open her heart and heal. Their journey takes them to San Diego, where they practice Buddhism and become inspired to help others. But Patrick is diagnosed with terminal cancer and passes away three years later, and Kyomi is lost in her grief. This is when she begins writing, and finds truths within herself that were buried long ago. A heartfelt and poignant narrative, Kyomi O’Connor aptly describes a journey of healing, spiritual growth and love.
‘Til All These Things Be Done by Suzanne Moyers
When she was sixteen, Leola’s father disappeared. Now eighty-three years old and suffering from dementia, Leola sees him in visions, forcing her to relive this loss and the circumstances that preceded it. In 1919, after their father vanishes and their mother dies, Leola and her younger sisters are sent to an orphanage, where Leola’s journey for the truth begins. Her actions bring to light clues about her father’s disappearance and hint at a shattering betrayal, forcing Leola to confront her grief and uncover the truth about her family.
East of Troost by Ellen Barker
In the 1900s, Troost Avenue divided people by race, and by the end of the century an expressway displaced thousands of people on the “black” side of the city. This story’s narrator moves back to her childhood home in an area east of Troost Avenue, which is now mostly Black. She searches for a sense of belonging while dealing with crime, undertaking repairs, and facing skepticism. With the support of a few neighbors and a friendly dog, she tries to navigate this world, experiencing compassion, cruelty, and courage in her journey to return home.
More Than You Can See by Barbara Rubin
When Barbara’s daughter Jennifer is in a horrific car accident, she loses her ability to communicate. Barbara and her family struggle to adjust after the tragedy, and eventually decide to put Jenn in a home where she can get the care she needs. There, Jenn meets three women who become her caregivers, and with their help, finds a way to share her voice and experience the beauty life has to offer. An emotional and heartwarming memoir about grief, healing, joy and acceptance.
Enough by Amelia Zachry
Amelia is nineteen years old when she’s sexually assaulted by a student from her university in Kuala Lumpur. In the months that follow, her mental health spirals and she begins to make questionable decisions, determined to take back the control that was stolen from her that night. Amelia eventually meets her future husband, Daniel, who supports her as she begins to heal. When she’s diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar II disorder in her late twenties, Amelia learns to navigate her way through adulthood and motherhood, sharing her heart-wrenching story of trauma, resilience and new beginnings.
Lost Souls of Leningrad by Suzanne Parry
Widowed violinist Sofya Karavayeva and her granddaughter Yelena are stuck in the city of Leningrad in June, 1941, as Hitler’s armies bombard the land. Admiral Vasili Antonov fights on the city’s outskirts, defending his home and his dream of a future with Sofya, while Yelena’s soldier fiancé transports food to save his people. With their help, Sofya and Yelena work towards freedom, determined to survive the brutality of the war and reunite with those they love.
Desert Creatures by Kay Chronister
As they travel across the American West trying to outrun the violence pursuing them, Magdala and her father join a group of survivors on a journey to the holy city of Las Vegas. Magdala, born with a clubfoot, hopes to be healed by the vigilante saints rumored to reside there. But when her companions are taken by a horrifying sickness, Magdala is left to fend for herself. After seven years on her own, Magdala once again heads to Las Vegas, this time holding a priest hostage to ensure she gets her miracle. The two of them must navigate their way through the desert in this tale of endurance, resilience and redemption.
48 States by Evette Davis
In 2042, the United States has been turned upside down from terrorist attacks, a crumbling government, and a rewritten civil liberties. Not to mention, two states have been removed and erased from the map. River is a widow, a single mother, and a veteran of the Caliphate wars. Finn Cunningham is a hydrologist with the United States Geology Survey. When their paths cross in this unique dystopian thriller, it sends both of them on the run. The fondness between them for each other grows, while their stories of past relationships and loss show the dangers of extremism and the power of love and forgiveness.
Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
A chance to earn fifty million dollars and make history at the same time — how could Will Chen and his friends turn that down? Will is living the American Dream, or at least to his parents standards. His curated role as a perfect Harvard student is upended when he’s approached by a mysterious Chinese benefactor with an impossible and illegal job offer: a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago. Will and his friends will have to succeed or they will lose not only everything they’ve ever dreamed of, but will have also failed to take back what colonialism has stolen.
Attribution by Linda Moore
In this riveting novel full of imaginative art world revelations, betrayals and twists, an aspiring art historian leaves her troubled parents to study in New York where she struggles to impress her misogynist advisor—until she discovers a hidden painting, and flees to Spain to prove it’s a masterpiece.
Ivy Lodge by Linda Murphy Marshall
Following the deaths of her parents, Linda Murphy Marshall returns to her midwestern childhood home; in the process of going through each room, she evokes memories and insights from her patriarchal 1960s upbringing, and—informed by her training as a translator—finds new meanings in the often disturbing events that took place in that home.
The Walled Garden by Robin Farrar Maas
American grad student Lucy Silver comes to England to research Elizabeth Blackspear, a famous poet, but soon finds herself in a fight to save Blackspear’s historic gardens, hot on the trail of a decades-old mystery, and in danger of falling for a hot Scot. Along the way, she discovers that her true home—and inheritance—are more incredible than anything she’d ever imagined.
A Week of Warm Weather by Lee Bukowski
When Tessa’s husband’s obsession resurrects a trauma from her childhood, he insists to her that their livelihood depends on her silence. Everyone thinks she’s living the perfect life—but she’s really living the perfect lie.
Ice Out by Susan Speranza
Francesca Bodin’s near perfect life is upended when a snowmobiling accident lands her, her husband Ben, and their four-year-old daughter in frozen lake. When he gets out, leaving them to die, she realizes her life isn’t as perfect as she thought it was.
A Letter in the Wall by Eileen Brill
Joan Dumann fears her ex-business partner wants her dead, but her anxiety is less about dying than it is about feeling disrespected. Based on a true story, this psychological drama is also a historical study—spanning several decades—of an emotionally complex woman, an anti-heroine, replete with unfulfilled desires, female empowerment, and redemption.
The Third Way by Aimee Hoben
Arden Firth is a college student who just lost her scholarship, and finds herself leading a movement to abolish corporations in order to save her grandma’s farm. Pushed to the forefront by a mysterious law student with a past, Arden will try to fight her own demons while trying to change the world.
Coffee, Shopping, Murder, Love by Carlos Allende
The rent wasn’t due until the thirteenth, but he just found a dead body inside his roommate’s freezer. On the verge of calling the police, he decided to wait: after all, Jignesh owes rent and has amazing season tickets to the LA Opera; he could partake until Jignesh shows back up. A few months go by though, and he decides to check out the freezer one more time. What if he imagined the body? Well, imagine his surprise when he found yet another dead body. Time to evict Jignesh . . . . if he shows up . . . but he still the needs some money. He just desperately needs to sell this novel. Just enough copies to help him survive until he finds a job.
Faith by Itoro Bassey
A beautiful representation of the the past and present, told by several generations of women riffing on ideas of faith, expectation, identity and independence, this coming-of-age story is of a first-generation Nigerian-American woman born and raised in the U.S. who resettles in Nigeria. Arit Essien is just trying to find her place in the world, and the reader is along for the ride.
Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek
Mitya was only two years old when he swallowed his grandfathers sewing needle. While his family believed this incident was the beginning of the end, Mitya believes it is a treasure that guides him. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is not only uncertainty about the future of his country, but in Mitya life as well. Is he a boy, as everyone keeps telling him, or is he not quite a boy, as he often feels? After suffering horrific abuse from his cousin Vovka who has returned broken from war, Mitya embarks on a journey across underground Moscow to find something better, a place to belong.
Are We Ever Our Own by Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes
Related but unknown to each other, these women are exiles, immigrants, artists, outsiders, all in search of a sense of self and belonging. In this collection of short stories, the owner of a professional mourning service investigates the disappearance of her employees. On the eve of the Cuban revolution, a young woman breaks into the mansion where she was once a servant, to help the rebels and free herself. And a musician in a traveling troupe recounts the last day she saw her father—just to name a few of these impactful stories that needed to be told.
What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me by Donna Gordon
Vibrant, thirteen-year-old Lee is is facing premature death from Progeria (a premature aging disease). His “final wish” trip is to go to Washington DC and Philadelphia to seek and understand the life of Benjamin Franklin. But when a mix-up prevents his mom from taking him, Lee’s caretaker offers to accompany him. Tomás is a survivor of Argentina’s Dirty War and has discovered potential leads to his missing wife and child in both cities. As one flees memories of death while the other is hurtling towards it, this thirteen year old and his caretaker will share unsettling truths and find themselves transformed in the process.
Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman
When the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is a death sentence, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft and the murder of her parents. She must flee her 1689 New England town, hiding away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence. Owen is a daring sailor, connected to Ruth by years of friendship and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, and the headstrong Ruth, along with a cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen and townsfolk, are dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose.