With a new year comes new reading resolutions! Maybe you want to read a wider variety of genres, or maybe you want to read more frequently? And like many bookworms, you may have been gifted a shiny new stack of books over the holidays—because that’s exactly what happened to me. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you need some recommendations to add to your list, check out some books from my 2022 TBR pile!
My Book Haul: 6 New Additions to My Shelf
When I heard about THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD MOTHERS, it instantly reminded me of THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood, one of my all-time favorite books . . . and I always gravitate toward a bright pink cover. In this explosive novel, one lapse in judgment lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance. I selected this book because I was drawn to how Chan examines the idea of “perfect” parenting and the systems that separate families. I have a feeling this one will be a binge read.
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.
A few months ago I hopped on the Sally Rooney bandwagon after falling in love with NORMAL PEOPLE, so I HAD to ask for her latest novel for Christmas. This story follows the intersecting, complicated relationships of Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon. These characters break apart and come together through a coming-of-age narrative that explores love, friendships, and the world we live in. I’ve already begun reading this one, and yet again Rooney’s sharp, insightful prose resonates deeply with me as a twentysomething also trying to find myself in this crazy world.
After hearing me obsess over RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston, multiple friends urged me to read THE CHARM OFFENSIVE, so of course I had to pick it up. This touching romantic comedy takes place on a reality dating show, similar to a fictional version of The Bachelor, where an awkward tech wunderkind named Charlie must find his “Princess.” However, instead of connecting with the female contestants, there is undeniable chemistry between him and his dating coach Dev. I can tell this has the potential to be one of my new favorite rom-coms!
In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.
Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.
Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.
As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.
A coworker raved to me about THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS, and she wasn’t exaggerating. It’s one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while—I devoured the whole thing during my holiday travels. This book is set in an abandoned mansion, haunted by a crime: twenty-five years ago police found a healthy ten-month-old baby in her crib. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies. The four other children reported to live at the house were gone, never to be found. However, the mystery starts to unravel when Libby, the sole beneficiary of the home, comes to claim her inheritance. Lisa Jewell is a master at writing suspense-packed chapters, and I simply never knew where the story would go next!
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A GOOD MORNING AMERICA COVER TO COVER BOOK CLUB PICK
“Rich, dark, and intricately twisted, this enthralling whodunit mixes family saga with domestic noir to brilliantly chilling effect.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author
“A haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read.” —Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author
From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.
Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
This must-read has been on my TBR list after picking it up at a local bookstore. I kept telling myself I didn’t need another book, but after reading the back cover, I was hooked. HOW WE FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES is a coming-of-age memoir about a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself within his family, within his country, and within his own hopes, desires, and fears. I’m always drawn to the intimacy of memoirs, especially those that touch on different experiences from my own. I already know this is a book I’ll be talking about for a long time.
WINNER OF THE 2019 KIRKUS PRIZE IN NONFICTION
WINNER OF THE 2020 STONEWALL BOOK AWARD-ISRAEL FISHMAN NONFICTION AWARD
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES’S 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019
One of the best books of the year as selected by The Washington Post; NPR; Time; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Harper’s Bazaar; Elle; Kirkus Reviews; Publishers Weekly; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; School Library Journal; and many more.
“A moving, bracingly honest memoir that reads like fevered poetry.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Jones’s voice and sensibility are so distinct that he turns one of the oldest of literary genres inside out and upside down.” —NPR’S Fresh Air
“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’”
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that’s as beautiful as it is powerful—a voice that’s by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.
2021 had been another difficult, uncertain year, so I needed a pick-me-up to start 2022 off on a positive note. In this romantic and heartwarming novel, two strangers meet in chance circumstances during a blizzard and spend one perfect evening together. They think they’ll never see each other again . . . but fate seems to have different plans. I intend on reading this one snuggled up on a snowy Saturday with a hot chocolate, daydreaming about having my own perfect meet-cute moment.
“I read Eight Perfect Hours in one sitting, in four perfect hours, because I couldn’t bear to put it down without knowing the ending. Lia Louis has become a must-buy author for me.” —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author
In this romantic and heartwarming novel, two strangers meet in chance circumstances during a blizzard and spend one perfect evening together, thinking they’ll never see each other again. But fate seems to have different plans. From the acclaimed author of the “swoon-worthy…rom-com” (The Washington Post) Dear Emmie Blue.
On a snowy evening in March, thirty-something Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her old college when disaster strikes. With a blizzard closing off roads, she finds herself stranded, alone in her car, without food, drink, or a working charger for her phone.
All seems lost until Sam Attwood, a handsome American stranger also trapped in a nearby car, knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours together, until morning arrives and the roads finally clear. The two strangers part, positive they’ll never see each other again but fate, it seems, has a different plan. As the two keep serendipitously bumping into one another, they begin to realize that perhaps there truly is no such thing as coincidence.
With plenty of charming twists and turns and Lia Louis’s “bold, standout voice” (Gillian McAllister, author of The Good Sister), Eight Perfect Hours is a gorgeously crafted novel that will make you believe in the power of fate.
Photo credit: iStock / diignat