So many good books are coming out in 2022 that it’s almost alarming. Where did all these incredible ideas and premises come from? Is there a world in which can we possibly get through them all in the next year? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, we’re doing the best we can to give you a head start, telling you about our favorites we’ve either already read or can’t wait to read. We’ve got thrillers with twists, unique historical fiction treats, long-awaited novels, and more. There are so many good books that it may be tempting to increase your reading challenge goals for next year—but just remember that you’re currently furiously flipping pages to meet your impossible goals from last year. So goal-set with caution!
Jordyn’s Pick #1: It’s a tall order to compare a book to THE HANDMAID’S TALE, but I’m going to do it. THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS is for fans of THE HANDMAID’S TALE, the TV show Westworld, and Naomi Alderman’s THE POWER. It’s for anyone who likes dystopian stories that reflect real issues we’re facing today. This book is so compelling, it’s hard to put down, and even harder to stop talking about it. Our main character, Frida, had a very bad day and as a result is sent to a government facility where the goal is to teach women how to be good mothers. But she soon finds that the standards of the program are incredibly high and the prospect of losing custody of her daughter adds pressure. This exploration of motherhood is so witty and emotional, you won’t be able to put it down. Publication Date: January 4, 2022
In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.
Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.
Until Frida has a very bad day.
The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.
Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.
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 School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.
Sue’s Pick: With a mix of fascinating science and the truly unexplainable, Erica Ferencik’s GIRL IN ICE keeps you glued to your seat until the very last page. If you're a big thriller reader like me, you'll love the twists and turns of this novel about a gifted linguist who travels to the Arctic Circle in hopes of solving the mystery of her brother’s sudden death. Just when you think you've figured it out, it veers sharp left and leaves you wondering, How did I miss that? The writing is sharp and fast-paced, and you become attached to each of the characters, wanting them to succeed beyond all odds. Equal parts science, science fiction, and love story, GIRL IN ICE will deliver a wonderful ride for even the most discerning thriller reader. Publication Date: March 1, 2022
From the author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle comes a harrowing new thriller set in the unforgiving landscape of the Arctic Circle, as a brilliant linguist struggling to understand the apparent suicide of her twin brother ventures hundreds of miles north to try to communicate with a young girl who has been thawed from the ice alive.
Valerie “Val” Chesterfield is a linguist trained in the most esoteric of disciplines: dead Nordic languages. Despite her successful career, she leads a sheltered life and languishes in the shadow of her twin brother, Andy, an accomplished climate scientist stationed on a remote island off Greenland’s barren coast. But Andy is gone: a victim of suicide, having willfully ventured unprotected into 50 degree below zero weather. Val is inconsolable—and disbelieving. She suspects foul play.
When Wyatt, Andy’s fellow researcher in the Arctic, discovers a scientific impossibility—a young girl frozen in the ice who thaws out alive, speaking a language no one understands—Val is his first call. Will she travel to the frozen North to meet this girl, and try to comprehend what she is so passionately trying to communicate? Under the auspices of helping Wyatt interpret the girl’s speech, Val musters every ounce of her courage and journeys to the Artic to solve the mystery of her brother’s death.
The moment she steps off the plane, her fear threatens to overwhelm her. The landscape is fierce, and Wyatt, brilliant but difficult, is an enigma. But the girl is special, and Val’s connection with her is profound. Only something is terribly wrong; the child is sick, maybe dying, and the key to saving her lies in discovering the truth about Wyatt’s research. Can his data be trusted? And does it have anything to do with how and why Val’s brother died? With time running out, Val embarks on an incredible frozen odyssey—led by the unlikeliest of guides—to rescue the new family she has found in the most unexpected of places.
Sabrina’s Pick #1: CIRCUS OF WONDERS takes the reader back to Victorian Europe, during a time when freak shows were a socially acceptable form of entertainment for both royalty and peasantry. After Nell’s desperate father had sold her to Jasper Jupiter’s traveling circus cadre, Nell became famous for her leopardlike birthmarks and ethereal performances, eventually headlining as Nellie Moon. Amidst Jasper’s circus, a secret relationship grows between Jasper’s brother Toby and Nell. Toby believes himself to be utterly boring and ordinary, but he’s harboring a dark secret he thinks will tear them apart—if Jasper’s greedy schemes don’t do the job first. In Elizabeth Macneal’s extraordinary world, a physical difference can get someone the designation of “monster” and put on public display, but the real monsters blend in with the crowd; there’s also a fine line between independence and exploitation. Readers will find beauty in destitution and a bit of horror, feminism, and romance threaded through this work of historical fiction. Publication Date: February 1, 2022
From the #1 internationally bestselling author of the “lush, evocative Gothic” (The New York Times Book Review) The Doll Factory comes an atmospheric and spectacular novel where one woman’s life is transformed by the arrival of a Victorian circus of wonders.
Step up, step up! In 1860s England, circus mania is sweeping the nation. Crowds jostle for a glimpse of the lion-tamers, the dazzling trapeze artists and, most thrilling of all, the so-called “human wonders.”
When Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders pitches its tent in a poor coastal town, the life of one young girl changes forever. Sold to the ringmaster as a “leopard girl” because of the birthmarks that cover her body, Nell is utterly devastated. But as she grows close to the other performers, she finds herself enchanted by the glittering freedom of the circus, and by her own role as the Queen of the Moon and Stars.
Before long, Nell’s fame spreads across the world—and with it, a chance for Jasper Jupiter to grow his own name and fortune. But what happens when her fame begins to eclipse his own, when even Jasper’s loyal brother Toby becomes captivated by Nell? No longer the quiet flower-picker, Nell knows her own place in the world, and she will fight for it.
A gorgeously wrought exploration of celebrity, power, and belonging, this is a historical novel unlike any other, with an unforgettable heroine at its heart.
Sabrina’s Pick #2: Hidden away deep in the woods, an abandoned octagonal house creates an eerie connection to those who even come close to the property. Young girls, specifically, are drawn to this decaying structure, and by the time the reason they’re being pulled in starts to materialize, it’s too late to return to life as normal. Clare was put under the house’s spell as a child but escaped. Now a series of events has brought her back to the scene to try and save a childhood friend. BENEATH THE STAIRS is a haunting novel that gets under your skin and will have you eyeing every door, corner, and shadow in your home. Jennifer Fawcett skillfully merges paranormal and suspense in such a way that this is a one-sitting read; you won’t want to put it down and you’ll be questioning what’s real. Publication Date: February 22, 2022
“An enthralling debut by a gifted storyteller!” —Wendy Walker, author of Don’t Look for Me
In this spine-tingling, atmospheric debut for fans of Jennifer McMahon, Simone St. James, and Chris Bohjalian, a woman returns to her hometown after her childhood friend attempts suicide at a local haunted house—the same place where a traumatic incident shattered their lives twenty years ago.
Few in sleepy Sumner’s Mills have stumbled across the Octagon House hidden deep in the woods. Even fewer are brave enough to trespass. A man had killed his wife and two young daughters there, a shocking, gruesome crime that the sleepy upstate New York town tried to bury. One summer night, an emboldened fourteen-year-old Clare and her best friend, Abby, ventured into the Octagon House. Clare came out, but a piece of Abby never did.
Twenty years later, an adult Clare receives word that Abby has attempted suicide at the Octagon House and now lies in a coma. With little to lose and still grieving after a personal tragedy, Clare returns to her roots to uncover the darkness responsible for Abby’s accident.
An eerie page-turner, Beneath the Stairs is about the trauma that follows us from childhood to adulthood and returning to the beginning to reach the end.
Heather’s Pick #1: Everyone has personal struggles, even when they aren’t readily apparent to the outside world, and everyone wants to escape their daily lives sometimes. This is one of the ideas at the heart of JJ Bola’s THE SELFLESS ACT OF BREATHING, in which British-Congolese teacher Michael Kabongo reaches a breaking point and makes an impromptu decision to move to America for a fresh start. As he journeys across the country, from New York City all the way out to San Francisco, Michael embraces new people and experiences, but also faces some of the same old prejudices that contributed to his heartbreaking past. This book sounds beautiful and devastating in equal measure, which means I must have it. Publication Date: February 15, 2022
A heartbreaking, lyrical story for all of those who have fantasized about escaping their daily lives and starting over.
Michael Kabongo is a British-Congolese teacher living in London on the cusp of two identities. On paper, he seems to have it all: He’s beloved by his students, popular with his coworkers, and the pride and joy of a mother who emigrated from the Congo to the UK in search of a better life. But behind closed doors, he’s been struggling with the overwhelming sense that he can’t address the injustices he sees raging before him—from his relentless efforts to change the lives of his students for the better to his attempts to transcend the violence and brutality that marginalizes young Black men around the world.
Then one day he suffers a devastating loss, and his life is thrown into a tailspin. As he struggles to find a way forward, memories of his fathers’ violent death, the weight of refugeehood, and an increasing sense of dread threaten everything he’s worked so hard to achieve. Longing to escape the shadows in his mind and start anew, Michael decides to spontaneously pack up and go to America, the mythical “land of the free,” where he imagines everything will be better, easier—a place where he can become someone new, someone without a past filled with pain.
On this transformative journey, Michael travels everywhere from New York City to San Francisco, partying with new friends, sparking fleeting romances, and splurging on big adventures, with the intention of living the life of his dreams until the money in his bank account runs out.
Written in spellbinding prose, with Bola’s trademark magnetic storytelling, The Selfless Act of Breathing takes us on a wild ride to odd but exciting places as Michael makes surprising new connections and faces old prejudices in new settings.
Heather’s Pick #2: For more than a hundred years, the British royal family hosted an annual ball where aristocratic parents presented their teenage daughters to the monarch, officially launching them into London Society and indicating they were ready for marriage. Queen Elizabeth II discontinued the tradition in 1958, but not before one final group of debutantes curtseyed before her. This fascinating period is the backdrop for Julia Kelly’s new historical novel, THE LAST DANCE OF THE DEBUTANTE, in which a scholarly young lady named Lily Nichols commits to a Season’s worth of society events as a debutante in order to please her mother. Along the way, she makes two great friends, Leana and Katherine, but she also learns a secret that could wreck her family and her future. . . . As someone who has devoured her fair share of historical romance novels set amid the posh London Season, I can’t wait to read this story. Publication Date: January 24, 2022
The author of the “sweeping, stirring, and heartrending” (Kristin Harmel, author of The Room on Rue Amélie) The Light Over London returns with a masterful, glittering novel that whisks you to midcentury Britain as it follows three of the last debutantes to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II.
When it’s announced that 1958 will be the last year debutantes are to be presented at court, thousands of eager mothers and hopeful daughters flood the palace with letters seeking the year’s most coveted invitation: a chance for their daughters to curtsey to the young Queen Elizabeth and officially come out into society.
In an effort to appease her traditional mother, aspiring university student Lily Nichols agrees to become a debutante and do the Season, a glittering and grueling string of countless balls and cocktail parties. In doing so, she befriends two very different women: the cool and aloof Leana Hartford whose apparent perfection hides a darker side and the ambitious Katherine Norman who dreams of a career once she helps her parents find their place among the elite.
But the glorious effervescence of the Season evaporates once Lily learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her entire family. Faced with a dark past, she’s forced to ask herself what really matters: her family legacy or her own happiness.
With her signature “intricate, tender, and convincing” (Publishers Weekly) storytelling, Julia Kelly weaves an unforgettable tale of female friendship amid the twilight days of Britain’s grand coming out balls.
Nicole’s Pick: Akwaeke Emezi has already conquered the literary fiction, memoir, and middle grade worlds, so of course it only makes sense for their next sure-to-be-hit to be in the romance genre. I’ve recently gotten back into Romance (thanks, pandemic) so my excitement over this book is through the roof. A story about a Black woman looking for a second chance at love? By one of the most prolific authors of our time? Sign. Me. Up. Akwaeke’s writing is the kind that stays with you hours, days, and months after you’ve consumed their work. They craft narrative and characters so beautifully that no word I can come up with will do it justice. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to start reading this book, and I’ve been immediately drawn in by Feyi, a gorgeous Black artist living in NYC and getting back into the dating scene five years after her husband died in a terrible accident. How will Feyi traverse this new world and a new relationship while navigating the grief she still holds on to? I can’t wait to find out, and I hope you can’t either. Publication Date: May 24, 2022
A New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and “one of our greatest living writers” (Shondaland) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi 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, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.
Sara’s Pick #1: Libraries are places of peace and quiet, but not so for the reading room at the Boston Public Library. When a woman's terrified shriek rips through the peace and quiet of the room, security locks everyone down where they are until they figure out what's going on. In the meantime, four strangers sitting at the same table enter into polite conversation. Well, it would be polite if one of them wasn't secretly a murderer. THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY tells the tale of friendship, betrayal, and how we hurt those we care about most. Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Emily’s Pick #1: I have an Italian trip planned for next year (in my head for now, but I will see it to fruition) and so this book is a highly anticipated read for me. On a long-awaited trip to the Amalfi Coast, Katy had hoped to go with her mother, but instead she must travel while grieving the death of her mother—who had also spent time in Positano years ago before she met Katy’s father. After a few days in the sun, Katy begins to feel rejuvenated by the coastal community, but she’s not the only one: her mother soon appears in the flesh, alive and healthy at age thirty. Over the course of the summer, the two bond in ways Katy could’ve never imagined. I was a sobbing mess after Serle’s IN FIVE YEARS and can’t wait to sob during this one—in between envisioning myself on the Positano beach. Publication Date: March 1, 2022
The New York Times bestselling author of the “heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hard to put down” (Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author) modern classic In Five Years returns with a moving and unforgettable exploration of the powerful bond between mother and daughter set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.
Jordyn’s Pick #2: I cannot wait to add this stunning book to my collection; just look at that pop of blue on the cover! Genevieve Graham is known for her brilliant historical fiction focusing on parts of Canadian history many don’t know about, and she’s done it again with WWI nurses (the “bluebirds” for their blue gowns) and the rumrunners of the Prohibition era. And of course, there’s the love story between a nurse and a solider that will remind you of the power of love in tumultuous times. Publication Date: April 5, 2022
A dazzling novel set during the Great War and postwar Prohibition about a young nurse, a soldier, and a family secret that binds them together for generations to come—from USA TODAY and repeat #1 bestselling author Genevieve Graham.
Cassie Simmons, a museum curator, is enthusiastic about solving mysteries from the past, and she has a personal interest in the history of the rumrunners who ferried illegal booze across the Detroit River during Prohibition. So when a cache of whisky labeled Bailey Brothers’ Best is unearthed during a local home renovation, Cassie hopes to find the answers she’s been searching for about the legendary family of bootleggers...
Corporal Jeremiah Bailey of the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company is tasked with planting mines in the tunnels beneath enemy trenches. After Jerry is badly wounded in an explosion, he finds himself in a Belgium field hospital under the care of Adele Savard, one of Canada’s nursing sisters, nicknamed “Bluebirds” for their blue gowns and white caps. As Jerry recovers, he forms a strong connection with Adele, who is from a place near his hometown of Windsor, along the Detroit River. In the midst of war, she’s a welcome reminder of home, and when Jerry is sent back to the front, he can only hope that he’ll see his bluebird again.
By war’s end, both Jerry and Adele return home to Windsor, scarred by the horrors of what they endured overseas. When they cross paths one day, they have a chance to start over. But the city is in the grip of Prohibition, which brings exciting opportunities as well as new dangerous conflicts that threaten to destroy everything they have fought for.
Pulled from the pages of history, Bluebird is a compelling, luminous novel about the strength of the human spirit and the power of love to call us home.
Holly’s Pick: THE WEDDING VEIL by Kristy Woodson Harvey piqued my interest the minute I heard its description. Historical plots, family heirlooms, and the Biltmore Estate? This book sounds every bit as gorgeous as the famous Vanderbilt family grounds. Kristy Woodson Harvey weaves the lives of four women together with one special family heirloom. In the present day, Julia Baxter is gifted her great-grandmother’s wedding veil, which has brought luck through generations. But on the morning of her wedding at the gorgeous Biltmore Estate, Julia fears she’ll need a whole lot more than a lucky veil to make her marriage work. Flash back to 1914, socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to uphold her family’s legacy while she desperately tries to ready the 250-room mansion for her daughter Cornelia’s inheritance. Unbeknownst to her, Cornelia has plans of her own. I can’t wait to dig deeper into the secrets behind the cherished family heirloom and relish in the extravagant life of a historical socialite. Publication Date: March 29, 2022
The New York Times bestselling author of Under the Southern Sky and the Peachtree Bluff series brings “her signature wit, charm, and heart” (Woman’s World) to this sweeping new novel following four women across generations, bound by a beautiful wedding veil and a connection to the famous Vanderbilt family.
Four women. One family heirloom. A secret connection that will change their lives—and history as they know it.
Present Day: Julia Baxter’s wedding veil, bequeathed to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations of her family as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even the veil’s good luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever. Overwhelmed and panicked, she escapes to the Virgin Islands to clear her head. Meanwhile, her grandmother Babs is also feeling shaken. Still grieving the death of her beloved husband, she decides to move out of the house they once shared and into a retirement community. Though she hopes it’s a new beginning, she does not expect to run into an old flame, dredging up the same complicated emotions she felt a lifetime ago.
1914: Socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage the luxurious Biltmore Estate after the untimely death of her cherished husband. With 250 rooms to oversee and an entire village dependent on her family to stay afloat, Edith is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy—and prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to inherit it—in spite of her family’s deteriorating financial situation. But Cornelia has dreams of her own. Asheville, North Carolina has always been her safe haven away from the prying eyes of the press, but as she explores more of the rapidly changing world around her, she’s torn between upholding tradition and pursuing the exciting future that lies beyond Biltmore’s gilded gates.
In the vein of Therese Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, The Wedding Veil brings to vivid life a group of remarkable women forging their own paths—and explores the mystery of a national heirloom lost to time.
Heather’s Pick #3: Between its bright, cheerful cover and delightful premise, I am all in on Sonya Singh’s debut novel, SARI NOT SARI. This rom-com stars Manny Dogra, who at first glance seems to have everything going for her, including a successful company and a handsome fiancé. What she comes to realize, however, is that she’s missing a sense of connection to her family’s South Asian heritage—a connection that her client Sammy Patel promises he can help her reestablish. How, you might ask? By escorting her to his brother’s Indian wedding, of course! Something tells me that Manny and Sammy may lose their hearts during the festivities too . . . Publication Date: April 5, 2022
This delightful debut rom-com follows the adventures of a woman trying to connect with her South Asian roots and introduces readers to a memorable cast of characters in a veritable feast of food, family traditions, and fun.
Manny Dogra is the beautiful young CEO of Breakup, a highly successful company that helps people manage their relationship breakups. As preoccupied as she is with her business, she’s also planning her wedding to handsome architect Adam Jamieson while dealing with the loss of her beloved parents.
For reasons Manny has never understood, her mother and father, who were both born in India, always wanted her to become an “All-American” girl. So that’s what she did. She knows next to nothing about her South Asian heritage, and that’s never been a problem—until her parents are no longer around, and an image of Manny that’s been Photoshopped to make her skin look more white appears on a major magazine cover. Suddenly, the woman who built an empire encouraging people to be true to themselves is having her own identity crisis.
But when an irritating client named Sammy Patel approaches Manny with an odd breakup request, the perfect solution presents itself: If they both agree to certain terms, he’ll give her a crash course in being “Indian” at his brother’s wedding.
What follows is days of dancing and dal, masala and mehndi as Manny meets the lovable, if endlessly interfering, aunties and uncles of the Patel family, and, along the way, discovers much more than she could ever have anticipated.
Emily’s Pick #3: I read A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD years ago, so I was excited to see a new novel from Jennifer Egan coming out this spring with a similarly fun play with narrative devices, and even including some of the same characters! But while GOON SQUAD covered music, this one imagines a future where you can view anyone’s memories as long as you share your memories as well. Using that as the background, Egan explores humanity and art through different perspectives: letter-writing, duets, tweets. I’m hoping this book does the same thing GOON SQUAD did for me, provide a uniquely fun reading experience, while also challenging me to interpret its format and the reasoning behind these stylistic choices that allow me to connect more closely with the characters. Publication Date: April 5, 2022
From one of the most celebrated writers of our time, a literary figure with cult status, a “sibling novel” to her Pulitzer Prize- and NBCC Award-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad—an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the quest for authenticity and meaning in a world where memories and identities are no longer private.
The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is 40, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. It’s 2010. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.
In spellbinding interlocking narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also extraordinarily moving, a testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption. In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter and a chapter of tweets.
If Goon Squad was organized like a concept album, The Candy House incorporates Electronic Dance Music’s more disjunctive approach. The parts are titled: Build, Break, Drop. With an emphasis on gaming, portals, and alternate worlds, its structure also suggests the experience of moving among dimensions in a role-playing game.
The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. Egan takes to stunning new heights her “deeply intuitive forays into the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture” (Vogue). The Candy House delivers an absolutely extraordinary combination of fierce, exhilarating intelligence and heart.
Emily’s Pick #4: There’s a line in BOMB SHELTER that I can’t stop thinking about and that perfectly sums up Mary Laura Philpott’s writing style: “I keep trying to make sense of my life by stacking stories upon stories upon stories.” It’s what I love about this book. Whether she’s telling a frightening story about her son’s first epileptic episode or the time the turtle kept showing up and knocking on the back door, she connects so many different snippets of her life and previous scenes we’ve encountered in way that imbues deeper meaning into everything. She’s so perceptive about her own actions and those around her that it may even change the way you view your own life. Publication Date: April 12, 2022
From the bestselling author of I Miss You When I Blink and “writer of singular spark and delight” (Elizabeth Gilbert, #1 New York Times bestselling author) comes a poignant and powerful new memoir-in-essays that tackles the big questions of life, death, and existential fear with humor and hope.
A lifelong worrier, Philpott always kept an eye out for danger, a habit that only intensified when she became a parent. But she looked on the bright side, too, believing that as long as she cared enough, she could keep her loved ones safe.
Then, in the dark of one quiet, pre-dawn morning, she woke abruptly to a terrible sound—and found her teenage son unconscious on the floor. In the aftermath of a crisis that darkened her signature sunny spirit, she wondered: If this happened, what else could happen? And how do any of us keep going when we can’t know for sure what’s coming next?
Leave it to the writer whose critically acclaimed debut had us “laughing and crying on the same page” (NPR) to illuminate what it means to move through life with a soul made of equal parts anxiety and optimism (and while she’s at it, to ponder the mysteries of backyard turtles and the challenges of spatchcocking a turkey).
Hailed by The Washington Post as “Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin all rolled into one,” Philpott returns in her distinctive voice to explore our protective instincts, the ways we continue to grow up long after we’re grown, and the limits—both tragic and hilarious—of the human body and mind.
Kaitie’s Pick #1: I’m a huge mystery/thriller and murder mystery fan, so picking up an early copy of GREENWICH PARK was a no-brainer for me—and I am so glad I did. Katherine Faulkner’s whip-smart, twisty thriller about impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets is unputdownable. I don’t remember the last book before GREENWICH PARK that I read in one sitting. With reminiscences of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins, this will keep even the most seasoned mystery reader guessing until the last page. Publication Date: January 4, 2022
“Gripping and haunting and gorgeously suspenseful. I couldn’t put this thriller down and can’t recommend it highly enough.” —Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl
A twisty, whip-smart debut thriller, as electrifying as the #1 New York Times bestseller The Girl on the Train, about impending motherhood, unreliable friendship, and the high price of keeping secrets.
Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and cherished baby on the way (after years of trying)—begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears.
But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. And Helen’s not the only one who’s noticed. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history in unexpected ways. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath the broad-leaved trees and warm lamplight of Greenwich Park.
Kaitie’s Pick #2: I have been a fan of Kate Quinn for several years now and working with her on her previous novel, THE ROSE CODE, only solidified that fandom. She has a masterful way of bringing previously untold stories of women’s war efforts to light, and I cannot wait to read Mila Pavlichenko’s story in THE DIAMOND EYE. THE DIAMOND EYE is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and I cannot wait to dive in. Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Heather’s Pick #4: I’ll be the first to admit I don’t read enough historical fiction set in America, but I’m going to work on that, starting with Kianna Alexander’s CAROLINA BUILT. It’s inspired by the life of the remarkable businesswoman Josephine N. Leary, who was born into slavery on a plantation and ended up creating a real estate empire in Edenton, North Carolina. The story follows an emancipated and newly married Josephine as she works to start fresh in her new town, where she struggles to balance the everyday needs of her family with her entrepreneurial dreams. I haven’t even met Josephine Leary yet and I’m already in awe of her grit. Publication Date: February 22, 2022
A vivid and moving novel based on the incredible life of real estate magnate Josephine N. Leary—a previously untold story of passion, perseverance, and building a legacy after emancipation in North Carolina.
Josephine N. Leary is determined to build a life of her own and a future for her family. When she moves to Edenton, North Carolina from the plantation where she was born, she is free, newly married, and ready to follow her dreams.
As the demands of life pull Josephine’s attention—deepening her marriage, mothering her daughters, supporting her grandmother—she struggles to balance her real estate aspirations with the realities of keeping life going every day. She teaches herself to be a business woman, to manage her finances, and to make smart investments in the local real estate market. But with each passing year, it grows more and more difficult to focus on building her legacy from the ground up.
Moving and inspiring, Josephine Leary’s untold story speaks to the part of us that dares to dream bigger, tear down whatever stands in our way, and build something better for the loved ones we leave behind.
Sara’s pick: #2 Author V. E. Schwab has had several hits throughout her career, so when her latest book, GALLANT, was announced, fans were chomping at the bit to find out more. This Gothic tale follows Olivia Prior, who only knows about her past through a strange journal left by her mother. When she receives a letter inviting her "home," a place called Gallant, she excitedly goes to learn more about her father and family. But when she arrives, no one is expecting her, and it seems there are some sinister spirits afoot in the house. Dark, brooding, and full of secrets, GALLANT is a must-read for anyone who loves a spooky mystery. Publication Date: March 1, 2022
Sara’s Pick #3: Charlie Hall is a con artist looking to escape her shady past, and is instead working as a bartender and taking odd jobs. But then when the past comes a-knocking, Charlie finds herself once again embroiled with doppelgangers, thieves, the eccentric rich, and even her sister. And what do they all want? Charlie's ability to deal in shadows, which have the power to alter someone's thoughts, feelings, and secrets. Holly Black's debut adult fiction novel BOOK OF NIGHT is a twisty, heart-stopping thrill ride that will have you praying Charlie makes it to the end in one piece. Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Sharon’s Pick: Speculative fiction is on the rise to become one of my most sought-out genres, and in 2022, Jo Harkin’s TELL ME AN ENDING is high on my speculative fiction stack. The book’s central theme is memory and begs these questions: What if you had the chance to remove a painful memory? And what if you could get it back? TELL ME AN ENDING explores answers through multiple perspectives, from characters with PTSD and no memories at all to a psychologist who works at a memory removal clinic in London. Each character grapples with their relationship to their identity and personal history as they are confronted with choices of what to remember and forget. Publication Date: March 1, 2022
Never Let Me Go meets Black Mirror in this thrilling dystopian debut about a tech company that deletes unwanted memories, the consequences for those forced to contend with what they tried to forget, and the dissenting doctor who seeks to protect her patients from further harm.
What if you once had a painful memory removed? And what if you were offered the chance to get it back?
Tell Me an Ending follows four characters grappling with the question of what to remember—and what they hoped to forget forever.
Finn, an Irish architect living in the Arizona desert, begins to suspect his charming wife of having an affair. Mei, a troubled grad school drop-out in Kuala Lumpur, wonders why she remembers a city she’s never visited. William, a former police inspector in England, struggles with PTSD, the breakdown of his marriage, and his own secret family history. Oscar, a handsome young man with almost no memories at all, travels the world in a constant state of fear.
Into these characters lives comes Noor, an emotionally closed-off psychologist at the memory removal clinic in London, who begins to suspect her glamorous boss Louise of serious wrongdoing.
Clever and propulsive, Tell Me an Ending is a speculative novel exploring what the world would be like if we were able to wipe away our worst moments. In this polyphonic tale, author Jo Harkin raises provocative questions about the nature of memory, through characters who confront new knowledge about themselves and a need for answers, meaning, connection, and story.
Emily’s Pick #4: Roxane Gay gave this book four stars on Goodreads so that’s an automatic read right there for me! The unnamed narrator is an English professor who finds herself infatuated with a young married novelist, newly arrived to the campus. Meanwhile, the narrator’s husband has had several former students come forward with misconduct allegations. As tensions build, the novel explores unreliable narrators and obsessions. I’ve never read LOLITA, but with obvious parallels to the classic novel I’m thinking VLADIMIR and LOLITA might be an interesting pairing to read together—perhaps even for a book club if you’re feeling daring. Publication Date: March 8, 2022
A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students—a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own...
“When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.”
And so we are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.
Jordyn’s Pick #3: After reading THE OTHER PASSENGER in one sitting while desperate to know what happens at the end, I am elated that there’s a new Louise Candlish page-turner coming out in 2022. The book description alone is enough to hook me, but beyond that I know that when I read her books I’m guaranteed a twisty thriller that will be unputdownable. Publication Date: March 1, 2022
“Impossible to resist, impossible to predict, impossible to put down…this is an author at the top of her game.” —Erin Kelly, author of Watch Her Fall
The author of the “masterfully plotted, compulsive page-turner” (The Guardian) Our House takes you on a haunting and nail-biting journey of tragedy and revenge.
The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among warehouses in London. Its roof terrace is so discreet, you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there—a man you’d recognize anywhere. He may be older now, but it’s definitely him.
But that can’t be because he’s been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.
Because you’re the one who killed him.
With Louise Candlish’s signature dark and twisty prose, The Heights shows “the ferocity of maternal love” (Hannah Beckerman, author of If Only I Could Tell You). It is a unputdownable thriller that will keep you guessing until the final page.
Photo credit: iStock / GrashAlex