Here are a bunch (but not all) of the books I’m excited about for 2022. I know everyone makes these lists at the end of the year—but I for one like these kinds of “here’s what is coming lists” better than the “best books of the past year” lists, because honestly, the best book lists are all the same. Except mine of course.
The list below was compiled over the last year as I started to hear about what was coming in 2022. It is specific to me and my interests, so if you’re a huge YA paranormal romance person, this might not be your kind of list—then again, if you are a huge YA paranormal romance person, you’re probably not that interested in me and my column anyway. Thank you for being here, though. Without further ramblings, here is my list of 2022 releases that I’m excited about!
I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home by Jami Attenberg (January 11, 2022)
Jami Attenberg is one of those people that all of my favorite authors love, which means she is a person I love. I was lucky enough to have her on the podcast in 2019. I have been waiting for whatever she does next, and her next book is coming so soon. It is a memoir about writing and creativity, and unlocking the things that make us, us.
Yonder by Jabari Asim (January 11, 2022)
One of the great joys of making The Stacks is getting book recommendations from my favorite authors. That is exactly how Yonder made it on my radar: Deesha Philyaw told me it was a must read, and so here we are. It has been described as The Water Dancer meets The Prophets and is about the love and friendship between a group of enslaved people as they contemplate the possibilities of freedom in the American South.
Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James (January 18, 2022)
Author Kendra James was the first Black legacy student at The Taft School, and then went on to be an admissions officer specializing in diversity at the same types of all-white boarding prep schools. This book is her reflection on her education, her time in admissions, and the ways she understands all of her experiences in a broader context of a “good education.”
Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science by Jessica Hernandez, PhD (January 18, 2022)
This is a book by an Indigenous environmental scientist exploring Indigenous means of conservation in place of the current western thinking that simply isn’t working. It includes family histories, stories and case studies that center Latin American women and land protectors. This one was recommended by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (author of The Disordered Cosmos, and past guest on the podcast), a person who I trust deeply when it comes to good books and science.
Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi (January 25, 2022)
A story of the future inspired by the story from the Bible, Goliath is a science fiction story of Earth in the 2050s. The rich have left for the space colonies, while the rest of the species are left in crumbling cities trying to make things work. The summary of this one got me really excited. And yes, there are Black people in the future.
Miss Me With That: Hot Takes, Helpful Tidbits, and a Few Hard Truths by Rachel Lindsay (January 25, 2022)
If you don’t know, I love the Bachelor franchise (even if it is deeply toxic) and my favorite lead is easily Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette. She wrote a book, I’m gonna read it. Them’s the rules.
South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry (January 25, 2022)
It is safe to say whatever Imani Perry writes is brilliant. We devoted an entire episode of The Stacks to her book Breathe and her writing is so good, that whatever she writes is an instant must read! South to America is an examination of the American South through the eyes of a native Alabaman who is revisiting her ancestral home with fresh eyes. I am looking forward to learning whatever it is Perry wishes to share with us.
Anonymous Sex edited by Hillary Jordan and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (February 1, 2022)
So yeah, you guessed it, this story collection is all about sexy encounters and has contributions from 27 authors (including faves like Jason Reynolds, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Rebecca Makkai)—but the catch is that every story is anonymous. So you’re getting all the juicy sexy details, but you’ll have to do your best to figure out who wrote what. How kinky!
Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition by Ruth Wilson Gilmore (February 8, 2022)
If you’ve been reading my column this year or listening to the podcast, you’ll know I’ve become increasingly interested in prison and police abolition, and I’m thrilled to keep reading and learning about the topic in 2022. Ruth Wilson Gilmore is one of the leaders of this movement, and in her new book we get to read lectures she’s made about abolition and its many intersections. Change Everything is the inaugural book in the new Abolitionist Papers book series, edited by Naomi Murakawa.
Nobody’s Magic by Destiny O. Birdsong (February 8, 2022)
This novel about three women with Albinism in Louisiana sounds incredible. It’s one of those books that weaves three storylines together, which I always love, and examines family, both chosen and genetic. Plus it sounds super juicy. My kind of novel.
Bitter by Akwake Emezi (February 15, 2022)
This is the companion novel to Emezi’s PET, a YA novel about social revolution. I mean, do I have to say more? Ok, I’ll say a little more . . . but just that Bitter is another YA novel looking at the call to protest and take action in the face of injustice.
In Sensorium: Notes for My People by Tanaïs (February 22, 2022)
When Kiese Laymon tells me to read a book, I’m going to read it, and all he has said about this book is fantastic things. In Sensorium is by a perfumer and writer who used scent and memory to craft this memoir. According to the publisher, Tanaïs “weaves a brilliant and expansive memoir, a reckoning that offers a critical, alternate history of South Asia from an American Bangladeshi Muslim femme perspective.” I mean, tell me this doesn’t sound incredible.
What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo (February 22, 2022)
As a teenager both of Stephanie Foo’s parents abandoned her after years of physical and verbal abuse and neglect. The book is both a personal account of her journey toward healing, as well as a researched book about complex PTSD and the available therapies.
Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth by Elizabeth Williamson (March 8, 2022)
This book is the kind of book I go nuts over. I know it will be bleak, but I love investigative journalism into major crimes, events and tragedies that have captured the imagination of America (other favorites in this category include Columbine and A Thousand Lives). I’m not sure what this says about me, but it is very true (and maybe something I shouldn’t be proud of), however a book on the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is certainly something I’ll be reading in 2022.
You Sound Like A White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation by Julissa Arce (March 22, 2022)
This book sold me on the title alone. I have been told I sound white more times than I care to think about, and everytime it really pisses me off. Mostly because—what does that even mean? I am looking forward to reading someone else grappling with this question and more, especially from a lens that is different than my own, as Acre is a Mexican immigrant, which comes with its own unique struggles around white supremacy and assimilation.
City on Fire by Don Winslow (April 26, 2022)
This one might surprise you, but I read Winslow’s The Power of the Dog back in 2010 and loved it (though I’m not sure it holds up). I also really appreciate Winslow’s Twitter presence. Plus, every once and a while, I need something super fast paced and dramatic, and this book about two criminal empires running New England sounds like my kind of novel.
COVER TO BE REVEALED
The Movement Made Us: A Father, a Son, and the Legacy of a Freedom Ride by David J Dennis Jr. and David J. Dennis Sr. (May 10, 2022)
This is a narrative that flips between the perspectives of father and son, both oral history and memoir, and examines the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter Movement of today from the perspective of two men who were at the center of it. I can not tell you how excited I am for this one.
More City Than Water: A Houston Flood Atlas edited by Lacy M. Johnson and Cheryl Beckett (May 24, 2022)
Lacy M. Johnson’s The Reckonings is easily one of the best books I’ve read, and the essay on Hurricane Harvey has stayed with me since I read it. So this book, a compilation of essays around Hurricane Harvey, seems like an obvious companion to the essay. The book centers the experiences of people in Houston during the hurricane, and asks the questions: What is revealed in the face of this kind of flooding? And what is obscured? Also, this cover is too beautiful to comprehend.
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley (May 24, 2022)
This book is inspired by the 2015 Oakland Police Department’s rape scandal. I’m an Oakland native, was rocked by the details of this story, and look forward to reading an author’s interpretation.
All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews (August 2, 2022)
This book came highly recommended from my favorite debut author of 2021, Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal and Nev). All This Could Be Different is the story of a young immigrant attempting to build a life for herself in Milwaukee, WI. The book is full of queer love, friendship, and the strangness of life in America.