Feature Image Credit: @whatskatreadingnow
There’s always something so exciting about starting a new year especially when we get to make our book club reading plan, too! There are a lot of exciting books coming out in 2022, but these picks are perfect for your next book club selection because regardless of the genre, they’re thought-provoking and easy to discuss.
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez (January 4, 2022)
Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo is a popular congressman representing the gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga, his sister, is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers. Their lives are alluringly public, but it isn’t until Olga meets Matteo that she must face the long-held secrets of her family. Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord-turned-radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives. Set in 2017, painted across New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, this story confronts political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream, all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.
30 Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani (January 4, 2022)
Nina always thought she’d do something big to celebrate her thirtieth birthday, and she was right about that. However, she didn’t know that would include spending the night in jail. Fresh out of a relationship and on the brink of moving back in with her old-fashioned Indian mom, this pit stop in a holding cell seems like the fitting intermission for the drama that her life has become. While feeling desperate and sorry for herself, a random self-help book magically appears In her cell. Knowing this has to be a sign, she commits to turn things around and find thirty things she loves about herself by her next birthday.
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan (January 4, 2022)
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.
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka (January 4, 2022)
Serial killer Ansel Packer is set to be executed in twelve hours for the murders of the young women he committed years ago. Through the eyes of women in Ansel’s life, Kukafka gives the reader a biography of the killer from his mother, his wife’s twin sister, and the homicide detective who hunted him down.
Anthem by Noah Hawley (January 4, 2022)
In a suburb of Chicago, the Float Anxiety Abatement Center, Simon Oliver is trying to recover from his sister’s tragic passing. After breaking out, he joins a woman named Louise and a man called The Prophet who are on a very urgent quest. Who lies at the end of the road? A man known as The Wizard, whose past encounter with Louise sparked her own collapse. Their quest becomes a rescue mission when they join up with a man whose sister is being held captive by the Wizard, impregnated and imprisoned in a tower. A Vonnegutian story that is as timeless as a Grimm’s fairy tale, it is a leap into the idiosyncratic pulse of the American heart, written with the bravado, literary power, and feverish foresight.
Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso (February 8, 2022)
Once home to the country’s oldest and most illustrious families, Waitsfield, Massachusetts is the only place Ruthie has ever known. It was cold, and it wasn’t just the weather: the secrets it held made it unforgiving. Ruthie had felt inadequate her whole life, especially against the harsh landscape of the town. It was not one of a picturesque New England childhood, but one of swap meets and factory seconds and powdered milk. Shame blankets her like the thick snow that regularly buries nearly everything in Waitsfield. Ruthie is starting to learn that the silence of Waitsfield is masking a dark legacy, and she stands at a crossroads of history and social class. The small town is suffocating her, and a girl like Ruthie would be lucky to survive.
Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler (February 8, 2022)
Tony Kwan and his estranged cousin Mia are killed unexpectedly in an accident—two days before Tony and Tam Kwan receive their letter of acceptance for the son they are adopting from China. Tam also learns that she is named guardian to Mia’s five-year-old, Angela. Tam’s life has been upended, and between trying to decide if she is going to go through with the adoption of the son who is waiting for her in a Chinese orphanage and bonding with Angela, the girl she hasn’t seen since she was an infant, everything is threatened when a long-concealed secret comes out. As Tam begins to unravel the events of Tony’s and Mia’s past in China, she discovers the true meaning of love and the threads that bind her to the family she is fated to have.
The Beauty of Dusk by Frank Bruni (March 1, 2022)
One morning in late 2017, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni woke up with strangely blurred vision. Overnight, a rare stroke had cut off blood to one of his optic nerves, rendering him functionally blind in that eye, forever. Soon he learns from doctors that the same disorder could ravage his left eye, too, and he could lose his sight altogether. Bruni is hauntingly recounting his adjustment to this daunting reality, a medical and spiritual odyssey that involved not only reappraising his own priorities but also reaching out to, and gathering wisdom from, longtime friends and new acquaintances who have navigated their own traumas and afflictions.
The Last Suspicious Holdout by Ladee Hubbard (March 8, 2022)
The stories in The Last Suspicious Holdout take place within a Black neighborhood over the span of fifteen years. Thirteen in all, the stories weave together the lives of friends and strangers as they navigate Black middle-class suburbia during an era when the media is replete with stereotypes of Black “super predators” and “welfare Queens.” As characters appear and reappear in and out of each other’s lives, what emerges is an unforgettable portrait of resilience and hope.
French Braid by Anne Tyler (March 22, 2022)
The Garrett family summer vacation of 1959 is their first, and last, vacation. Their proximity in closeness has, ironically, made them grow father apart. Mercy can’t resist her passion to be a painter, which takes away from keeping the house for her husband, Robin. Their daughters, steady Alice and boy-crazy Lily, have nothing in common. The youngest child, David, is intent on escaping his family. Yet, as these lives advance across decades, the Garretts’ influences on one another ripple ineffably but unmistakably through each generation. Illuminating the impossibility of breaking free from those who love us, and how close, yet how unknowable, every family is to itself.
Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton (March 29, 2022)
Searching, moving and inspiring, this is one writer’s attempt to use genealogy to expose the secrets and contradictions of her own ancestors, and to argue for the transformational possibilities that reckoning with our ancestors offers all of us. From her mother’s father, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression—and was said to have married thirteen times and been shot by one of his wives—to mental illness and religious fanaticism percolated through Maud’s maternal lines back to an ancestor accused of being a witch in Puritan-era Massachusetts. The meeting of her parents’ lines in Maud inspired an anxiety that she could not shake, a fear that she would replicate their damage. So she looked for the family secrets through her own DNA, she yearned for deeper truths, and her journey took her into realms of genetics and intergenerational trauma.
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow (April 5, 2022)
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.
Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong (April 5, 2022)
Award-winning Ocean Vuong gives a deeply intimate second poetry collection, as he searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death. Embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.
Nobody Gets Out Alive by Leigh Newman (April 12, 2022)
In Alaska, women are struggling to survive more than just grizzly bears and charging moose; they have their exhausting legacy of their marriages and families. Each story is as strong and varying as the women who lead it. “Howl Palace” portrays an aging widow who struggles with a rogue hunting dog and the memories of her five ex-husbands, while selling her house after bankruptcy. In the title story “Nobody Gets Out Alive” newly married Katrina visits her hometown of Anchorage and blows up her own wedding reception by flirting with the host and running off with an enormous mastodon tusk. Alongside stories set in today’s Last Frontier, rife with suburban sprawl, global warming, and opioid addiction, Newman delves into remote wilderness of the 1970s and 80s, bringing to life young girls and single moms in search of a wilder, freer, more adventurous America.
One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose (April 26, 2022)
The women of Buckhead have a competitive edge behind their expensive cars and huge houses. Shannon used to be the queen bee of Buckhead, but after being left and replaced with a younger woman by her politician husband, Bryce, she’s out for revenge. Crystal, however, has stepped into Shannon’s old shoes and has no idea what she’s up against. Olivia has always wanted Shannon’s crown, and the moment has finally come. However, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book. Then there’s Jenny, the owner of the most exclusive salon in town, Glow, and knows all her clients’ secrets and darkest desires. They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly.
Love Marriage by Monica Ali (May 3, 2022)
Yasmin Ghorami is twenty-six and in training to be a doctor, just like her Indian-born father. She’s also engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose formidable mother, Harriet, is a famous feminist. The gulf between families is vast, and unfortunately, so is the gulf in sexual experience between Yasmin and Joe. As the wedding day approaches, misunderstandings and infidelities upend more than just Yasmin’s relationship—it unveils the truth about her own parents “love marriage.” Captivatingly comedic and profoundly moving, these two cultures of two families are revelatory for the two people just trying to understand one another.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub (May 17, 2022)
‘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?
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emez (May 24, 2022)
It has been five years since an accident killed the love of Fevi Adekola’s life, and she’s finally almost whole again. She’s an artist with her own studio, and she’s living in a brownstone apartment with her best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to get back into the dating scene. Feyi wants to go very slowly since she isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: A luxury trip to a tropical island, where she enjoys gourmet meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, a major curator who wants to set her art career on the right path, and she even starts dating the perfect guy. However, she might risk everything with him for the dangerous thrills she feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house that she can’t have. A new life comes with complications and Feyi has to decide if she’s really ready to become someone new and what that means for not only her future, but her past.
Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith (May 31st, 2022)
When Vincent’s husband, Cillian, publishes a bestselling book that reveals secrets about his past and threatens their relationship, she decides to escape to Paris. She spends her time walking the streets, admiring the art, and enjoying the company of her vivacious friends. She also catches the attention of Loup, a young man that helps her open up again. After being separated from her husband for some time, Vincent prepares to see him at their son’s wedding, but her affair with Loup complicates things. As Cillian tries his best to win her back, Vincent must make a choice between her old life, and the new path she has discovered.
Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe (June 14th, 2022)
In Chicago, 1999, Felicia “Fe Fe” Stevens is living in a building that is next in line to be demolished by the Chicago Housing Authority. She forms friendships with two other neighborhood girls, and for a brief moment in time, their trio provides her with a sense of stability and faith. Until Fe Fe meets Tonya, who upsets the dynamic of the group and changes the lives of all four girls. While their neighborhood crumbles, so do their friendships and family structures. Years later, Fe Fe recounts the summer that changed everything and tries to reclaim the love that never faded. A powerful story about forming friendships, reclaiming one’s past, and finding a place to call home.
NSFW by Isabel Kaplan (July 5th, 2022)
The daughter of a well-known feminist attorney, NSFW’s unnamed narrator faces an ethical dilemma when her new job at a leading TV network exposes her to the injustices that come with the position. She notices her ideas only get attention when echoed by a male colleague and hears stories of sexual misconduct and abuse in the workplace. Her plan to keep her head down until she’s the one in charge is upended when her personal and professional lives collide and she’s forced to decide between her dream career and her own empowerment.
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty (July 5th, 2022)
A gripping portrayal of an Indigenous community, Night of the Living Rez explores several stories about Penobscot life in the twenty-first century. A boy discovers a jar that contains a curse that unravels his family; a man stumbles upon his friend passed out in the woods after trying to score some pot; an Alzheimer’s patient projects the past onto her grandson; and two friends attempt to rob a tribal museum. In twelve luminescent stories, Morgan Talty paints a memorable portrait of a community that bears the weight of a tragic past while working towards an uncertain future.
Kaleidoscope by Cecily Wong (July 5th, 2022)
The Brightons are a biracial Chinese American family renowned for the creation of Kaleidoscope, a shopping empire that sources luxury goods from around the world. The Brighton daughters, Morgan and Riley, are best friends despite the fact that Morgan is favored by the press and her parents. But when a terrible accident changes the family forever, Riley is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her loved ones and herself. With an unlikely companion, Riley begins her journey across the globe to find out the truth. A story that explores the meaning of family and the American Dream, Kaleidoscope is heartbreaking, funny, smart, and significant.
The Light Always Breaks by Angela Jackson-Brown (July 5th, 2022)
At twenty-four, Eva Cardon is a wildly successful restaurant owner in civil rights era Washington, D.C.. Courtland Hardiman Kingsley IV is a young senator hoping to change lives for the better. When the two of them cross paths due to a mutual interest in equal-rights activism, their attraction to one another is undeniable. But it’s also risky. Facing the disapproval of their families and the general public, Eva and Courtland must decide whether their values and their love are worth risking their dreams.
The Pink Hotel by Liska Jacobs (July 19th, 2022)
Newlyweds Kit and Keith Collins receive an invitation from the general manager of the iconic Pink Hotel, offering a luxurious stay in an effort to recruit Keith. Tempted by the extravagance of the hotel, Keith considers abandoning his small-town life and taking the job. But soon after they arrive, wildfires sweep through the mountains surrounding Los Angeles, resulting in riots and blackouts across the city. The Pink Hotel closes its doors to outsiders during the chaos, and Kit and Keith find themselves stuck with a group of wealthy, eccentric guests who flee to the hotel for sanctuary and a good time. As the tension escalates between the guests and the staff and the California fires continue to roar, Keith is forced to face hard truths about greed, love, and a questionable class system.
Delphi by Clare Pollard (August 2nd, 2022)
As London grapples with the unprecedented conditions brought forth by Covid-19, an unnamed narrator learns to navigate her own life amid the chaos. A classics academic with a focus on ancient prophecies, she becomes captivated with the idea of predicting the future. Exploring prophecy by palm reading, by animal behaviour, and by wine, her studies take her attention away from her family and the danger already looming at the gate. Delphi cleverly depicts our reality through the lens of myth, aptly describing the struggles and joys of living in an unpredictable world.
The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead (August 16th, 2022)
When she was in college, Shay Evans and her friend Laurel met a charming man who exposed them to a dangerous cult. By senior year, Shay and Laurel were the only ones lucky enough to escape. But eight years later, when Shay hears of Laurel’s death, she starts to question whether her past was buried deep enough. With the help of her favorite true-crime podcast host, Shay returns to upstate New York looking for answers. Following traces that Laurel left behind, Shay is immersed into a dark world of wealth and privilege that prompts her to examine her own complicity. How far is she willing to go – and what is she willing to give up – in her search for justice?
On the Rooftop by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (September 6th, 2022)
In 1950s San Francisco, Ruth, Esther, and Chloe are known as The Salvations. Under their mother Vivian’s direction, the three sisters have become a famous Fillmore girl band. When Vivian receives an offer from a talent manager that will put her daughters in the spotlight, she recognizes it as the chance she’s been waiting for. But her girls have become women with their own interests – interests their mother doesn’t know about. As the neighborhood gentrifies and properties are sold, one sister resolves to fight back, one seeks comfort with an old flame, and the third is determined to have her voice heard. Vivian must learn how to hold her family and her community together – or else finally relinquish control.
The Most Likely Club by Elyssa Friedland (September 6th, 2022)
In 1997, in Bellport, Connecticut, high school seniors and best friends Melissa, Priya, Tara, and Suki have bright futures ahead of them. Their yearbook superlatives confirm that each girl has great promise: Most Likely to Win the White House, Cure Cancer, Open a Michelin-Starred Restaurant, and Join the Forbes 400. But twenty-five years later, the women dread their high school reunion where they’ll ultimately have to reveal that they’ve accomplished nothing of the sort. When a classmate makes a surprising announcement, the girls reopen their yearbook and consider their old aspirations. Determined to make their younger selves proud, they make a pact to accomplish their goals, reminding themselves of the importance of friendship, childhood dreams, and personal growth.
Bliss Montage by Ling Ma (September 13th, 2022)
In this collection of eight different stories, Ling Ma explores notions of love, solitude, possession, friendship, motherhood, and home. The collection includes tales of a woman who shares a house with all of her ex-boyfriends, a drug that makes you invisible, and a dangerous ritual that can heal anyone, amongst several captivating others. Ling Ma eloquently describes outlandish scenarios that might not actually be so far out of our reach.
Illuminations by Alan Moore (October 11th, 2022)
In this short story collection, Alan Moore dives into paranormal and existential themes, sharing tales of memorable characters and otherworldly creatures. Amongst others, these unique stories include: “A Hypothetical Lizard,” “Not Even Legend,” “Illuminations,” and “What Can We know About Thunderman.” Moore’s work captures the magic in the mundane, showcasing the beauty of imagination and creativity.
Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson (November 8th, 2022)
Frankie Budge is sixteen years old when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who just moved to Coalfield, Tennessee. Frankie is an aspiring writer, so when she connects with Zeke creatively and romantically, sparks fly. The two create a poster with an unforgettable mysterious line: The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us. But then the posters begin to pop up everywhere, and soon there are rumors about their origin that endanger both Frankie and Zeke. Twenty years later, Frankie is a famous author, a mother, and a wife when she gets a call from a journalist asking about the Coalfield Panic of 1996. Now Frankie must figure out how to keep her secrets buried so they don’t threaten the new life she built.
The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (December 6th, 2022)
While a powerful hurricane wreaks havoc on Florida, Frida Lowe finds herself alone and in premature labor. Her husband is out searching for their two sons who disappeared just before the high winds hit and she has the baby on her own, naming her Wanda after the storm. As Florida continues to succumb to the extreme weather, Wanda grows. From adolescence to adulthood, she learns to adapt not only to the everchanging terrain, but also to its people. She forms bonds, loses others, and seeks belonging in a place reshaped by the elements.
The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale (December 6th, 2022)
Former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis returns to Milwaukee after learning of her mother’s unexpected death. She’s prepared to inherit Elf House, the family estate, when she discovers it has been given to a man she shares a difficult history with. Now she must delve into her past in search of answers and attempt to reclaim her heritage while keeping her secrets safe. A tale about familial bonds, pressures associated with talent, and the stories we tell ourselves, Saskia’s journey is dark, compelling, and shocking.