If you’ve been using all of your pandemic-induced downtime to get sucked into #booktok, you’ve joined an Instagram book club, or you’ve taken on a monthly reading challenge, we’ve got good news: The best books of 2022 list is already chock-full of soon-to-be favorites. Whether you’re looking for a page-turner to escape reality or a bit of prose that will help you dive deeper into some of the most pressing social issues, choose one (or all) of our new favorites below. Happy reading.
“Girls Can Kiss Now” by Jill Gutowitz
Jill Gutowitz, whose writing has appeared everywhere from Glamour to The New Yorker, has a true gift for cultural commentary that’s both hilarious and sharply poignant. Her first book, a collection of essays exploring queerness, pop culture, the internet, and “the mainstreaming of lesbian culture,” will make you feel seen.
“You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty” by Akwaeke Emezi
Best-selling author Akwaeke Emezi is back with a seductive and gripping novel about a young woman rebuilding her life after the love of her life is killed. As she tentatively dips a toe back into the dating pool, Feyi Adekola almost immediately gets sucked under by a whirlwind romance that promises to resurrect her life. There’s just one problem: the unexpected heat and desire she feels every time she locks eyes with his father. The result is a complicated and brave story about healing and how far we’ll go for love.
“Olga Dies Dreaming” by Xochitl Gonzalez
Who doesn’t love a smart rom-com? On that front, debut novelist Xochitl Gonzalez perfectly delivers while also painting a beautiful and complex family portrait. Olga Dies Dreaming follows a Puerto Rican brother and sister living the dream in New York — she, a wedding planner to the one percent, and he, a rising star in congress — until their radical activist mother who abandoned them returns to New York in the wake of the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history.
“Radically Content” by Jamie Varon
It will likely be years before we fully understand how the pandemic has altered our life paths, but we do know one thing: People are taking a good hard look at what success and fulfillment mean. Jamie Varon won’t tell you to quit your job or leave your marriage, but she will help you “build a satisfied, contented, and happy life that gently opts out of the societal ‘shoulds.’” Radically Content will make you rethink what it means to achieve and realize that being content is not the same as being complacent.
“An Unlasting Home” by Mai Al-Nakib
This time-hopping portrait of three generations of Arab women paints a deep and vivid portrait of life for women in Kuwait from the 1920s to the present day. Mai Al-Nakib begins the journey with Sara, a professor at Kuwait University in 2013, who faces the threat of execution after she’s accused of blasphemy in one of her lectures, and weaves in the stories of Sara’s grandmothers and two mothers whose own choices shaped Sara.
“An Abolitionist’s Handbook” by Patrisse Cullors
In An Abolitionist’s Handbook, the Black Lives Matter co-founder examines what it means to be an abolitionist in 2022 in an effort to move away from a ‘cancel culture’ and toward transformational change. A must-read that covers everything from finding joy in activism to practicing self-care and protecting your mental health in the fight for justice to practicing “active forgiveness.”
“Anna: The Biography” by Amy Odell
No one has had a bigger impact on shaping the sartorial conversation over the past four decades than Anna Wintour, the iconic Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. Fashion and culture journalist Amy Odell charts Wintour’s rise to dominance and the relentless ambition that has made her one of the most influential women in history.
“Let’s Get Physical” by Danielle Friedman
Journalist Danielle Friedman sets out to answer an ambitious question: How has fitness culture shaped women and vice versa? Through an engaging history of women’s fitness movements (Jazzercise and Jane Fonda, anyone?), Friedman explores how exercise has both been a means to “reduce” women and a pathway to the deep sense of empowerment that comes from physical strength. You’ll never look at your yoga class the same way again.
“The Cartographers” by Peng Shepherd
Peng Shepherd’s latest novel about a young female cartographer — the estranged daughter of a legend in the field — is perfectly poised to be the next Da Vinci Code. Nell Young and her father haven’t spoken since he unceremoniously fired her over a seemingly worthless dusty old gas station map. When he’s found dead in his office, with the map hidden in his desk, Nell embarks on a quest to uncover its deadly secrets.
“Run, Rose, Run” by Dolly Parton and James Patterson
In a debut collaboration between two of the best songwriters and storytellers of our time, Run, Rose, Run is the story of an ambitious young country singer running from a dark secret. Expect Dolly’s trademark buoyancy and wit with a mysterious edge.
“The Intersectional Environmentalist” by Leah Thomas
Activist Leah Thomas gives an in-depth look at how environmental activism and social justice are inextricably intertwined. She traces the disproportionate impact of climate change on BIPOC and makes the case that the fight for the planet is really a fight for civil rights.
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