New year, new books! As we round into a brand new year, book clubs are also on the hunt for the best book club books for their 2022 reading year. While it’s only January and many more books will be rolling out in the months to come, we are already excited about how good so many of the year’s upcoming books look. And one thing that has stuck with us through the past few years: books and book clubs, whether IRL or on Zoom, have all given us a way to escape the current world, even for just a little bit.
From mysteries to family dramas to true stories to uplifting books to sad ones, there’s something for everyone on this list of the best book clubs books out early in 2022 to add to your roster for your groups. (And if your group prefers to wait for paperbacks or read backlist titles, you can also check out the best book club books for 2021.)
As of the time of this writing, the listed publication dates are accurate, but due to ongoing supply chain issues, publication dates may move.
Best Book Club Books 2022: Fiction
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho (January 4)
For clubs who read books like Trust Exercise and enjoyed the way the narration played with the timeline but who also want something a bit more upbeat and hopeful, try Fiona and Jane, a book centering around two best friends as they grow up together, change with and around each other, and experience everything life throws at them.
30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani (January 4)
For the Millennial book clubs or any group looking for a strong central character who’s ready to spend time with herself, this uplifting book club book is an excellent way to start the new year. Nina ends up in the last place she thought she’d be on her 30th birthday — jail. Her life is spiraling in a way she doesn’t like, and when she finds a self-help book on learning to love yourself, she decides she’s going to make the effort to do just that.
Light Years from Home by Mike Chen (January 4)
If your group has never tried science fiction before and has goals in 2022 to branch out of your comfort zone, Mike Chen is a perfect author to start with. He writes sci-fi that doesn’t feel like sci-fi, and his newest book is about a family struggling to stay together and communicate. And they also happen to have had an encounter with aliens. It’s a little bit adventure, a lot of family drama, and a great choice for your book club to discuss anything and everything in between.
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González (January 4)
This book will appeal to a ton of different readers: it’s a love story (of sorts), a family drama story, a political story, and a story of trying to achieve the American Dream when it feels like everything is stacked against you. Olga and her brother Prieto are relatively famous in their neighborhood in Brooklyn, rising through the ranks in their own respective ways. Their lives are far less rosy behind the scenes, though, as their mother, who abandoned them decades ago, races back into their lives and changes everything.
Wahala by Nikki May (January 11)
This exhilarating and uplifting book club book about female friendship will simultaneously excite readers and remind them that mixing things up can be the start of something totally unexpected. Each woman has her own challenges, desires, needs, and each is coping in their own way, and when someone new comes into their circle, it challenges them to open up, think differently, and trust in one another.
The Leopard Is Loose by Stephen Harrigan (January 18)
For book groups who enjoy historical fiction, this book about a young boy in the 1950s is a great pick for discussion on growing up and trying to make sense of the world. Grady is just a kid and doesn’t really understand what the war was all about, but he knows it was something big for the grownups in his life. His father never came home, and his family seems elsewhere. His first glimpse of fear, though, comes in the form of a leopard that escapes the Oklahoma City Zoo, and he starts to learn about safety and the things that matter.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (January 18)
A fun and uplifting book club book for 2022 is Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? This part romance, part family story is about a woman in her 30s who is constantly being asked why she’s still single. When her cousin announces her engagement, Yinka begins her plan to find a date to accompany her to the wedding, but learns along the way she may not need one after all.
How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (January 18)
While pandemic reading may still be too close to home for some, others may find fictional pandemics helpful and hopeful in processing the one we are living through. This 2022 book deals with a near-future pandemic that comes from uncovering ancient buried artifacts and bodies, and as it sweeps the globe, many characters find themselves questioning a lot more than just how the pandemic began.
Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang (January 18)
Another insightful and hopeful book club book is this contemporary novel about a young woman struggling to decide if everything she’s been told and is doing in life — working hard, listening to her family — is truly what she actually wants to be doing. This is also on the shorter side, at 224 pages, for groups looking for a short read.
What Might Have Been by Holly Miller (January 18)
Groups who loved The Two Lives of Lydia Bird will enjoy this uplifting book that diverges down two paths, all stemming from one small decision made by Lucy as she sits in a bar after being fired from her job. The novel is told in two concurrent storylines, and readers will enjoy seeing just how different things could turn out — or how nothing is really different at all.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (February 1)
When Byron’s and Benny’s mother dies, her inheritance leaves them with a whole lot of questions. She’s left them a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from an old family recipe, along with a voice recording that could change their lives forever. This is also an excellent choice for book groups who like to read the books before adaptations, as it is currently in development as an original Hulu series produced by Oprah.
Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh (February 1)
This is a ripped-from-the-headlines novel for readers who can’t believe what’s happened in recent years in the news, as well as those who enjoyed A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. Claudia counsels patients at Mercy Street, a women’s clinic in Boston, where there are always protestors outside threatening them. Claudia exists with a level of anxiety and has been for a while, and when she hears of an anti-abortion crusader who has his violent sights set on the clinic, she knows she has to take action soon.
The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang (February 1)
This literary mystery and family drama novel is going to be a great selection for a mystery book club book this year. Fine Chao Restaurant is a beloved establishment in Haven, Wisconsin, but when Leo Chao, the family patriarch and owner, is found dead, gossip runs rampant, and the family is thrown into chaos. The three brothers immediately become suspects, and it seems that they each have a motive.
How to Find Your Way Home by Katy Regan (February 15)
If your book club is searching for a book that also deals with current social issues and challenges, this one will be perfect, telling the story of a brother and sister who reunite after Emily learns her brother Stephen has been houseless for a decade. She invites him to live with her, even though it’s been a long time since they’ve spent time together, and they’re determined to work through their issues and mend their relationship.
The Night Shift by Alex Finlay (March 1)
It’s not a book club book list without a good, page-turning thriller, and Alex Finlay is quickly proving to be a go-to resource for those who love those unputdownable books! The Night Shift begins in 1999, amid the Y2K scare and the turn into technology-focused lives, when tragedy strikes a local Blockbuster store, and four girls are attacked and only one survives. Fifteen years later, when a similar attack occurs, everything in the past is brought back to light.
Chorus by Rebecca Kauffman (March 1)
Following seven siblings as they experience the most tumultuous time in their lives, Chorus is a book that will appeal to fans of shows like Parenthood or books like The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. The narrative jumps between past and present as the siblings take on different roles over the years, from parents to children to caregivers to mourners to celebrators, and everything in between.
This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg (March 1)
Perfect for book clubs that read young adult or adult fiction, this new mystery novel about DNA and the power of family will be a great 2022 book club selection. Poppy’s family has a list of rules they must follow, the most important of which is that no one must know who they are. But Poppy has never been told why this is so important, and now that she’s almost an adult, her curiosity is at its breaking point, and she has to figure out the truth once and for all.
Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson (March 7)
I would be remiss to not include this absolute blockbuster of a novel (because you know it’s going to be) on this list, and your group will have a ton of fun reading this thriller — there’s also a new Dolly album out with new, original songs that goes with the book! Readers will have fun reading the mystery side of it, too, following a young songwriter on the run, and you’ll have a blast discussing both the book and the music at your book group meeting.
Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore (July 5)
This one is still a ways out from its publication date, but it’s also a great chance for your book club to check out Oona Out of Order, Montimore’s first book, if you haven’t yet. Her newest, though, is a contemporary story about the disappearance of an iconic magician and her sister, who was left behind to pick up the pieces. Ten years later, Sasha is still trying to cope with her sister’s vanishing, and it doesn’t help that a podcast about the topic won’t leave her alone until she agrees to an interview.
Best Book Club Books 2022: Nonfiction
I Came All This Way To Meet You by Jami Attenberg (January 11)
Jami Attenberg’s newest work will be a great 2022 book club pick for groups who have already read many of Attenberg’s well-known and well-loved novels. This is her memoir, detailing her life on the road growing up and the moments that led her to where she is today and how she became a writer.
Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor’s Fight for Fairness by Laura Coates (January 18)
More book clubs are reading true crime than ever before, and this account is perfect for true crime fans looking to learn more about the legal system and how unbalanced it can be. Laura Coates joined the Department of Justice as a prosecutor, ready to help advocate for the most vulnerable. But she quickly saw firsthand how the scales can be so far tipped against someone, there’s almost no way to get them even again.
Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James (January 18)
With celebrity admissions scandals abound and the rise of dark academia culture, this new memoir is perfect for groups looking to dive more into that or for groups getting ready to send kids off to school to get an inside look at what one is like. Kendra was an admissions officer for private prep schools specializing in diversity requirements, but she felt like she was selling a lie. She dives into her own experience at one of these elite schools and how stacked the cards are against a lot of people.
South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry (January 25)
Imani Perry is an African American Studies professor who was born in the south but raised in the north. Her studies, along with her personal journey, are examined in this account for book clubs who want to continue their work on antiracist reading. Perry details why, even if you’re not from the south, if you’re American, that culture is still a part of you. Perry dives into the complicated history and the current struggles — along with the triumphs — the modern American South experiences.
The Believer: Encounters with the Beginning, the End, and Our Place in the Middle by Sarah Krasnostein (March 1)
This collection of essays will be great for groups looking for something approachable but thoughtful as Krasnostein explores all kinds of strangers’ beliefs about the afterlife, a higher power, and everything in between and what happens when their beliefs clash with the beliefs of others. It’s definitely a poignant piece for today and will open up lots of discussion possibilities for book groups.
Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi (March 8)
We’re always up for good books about books, and with more books than ever being challenged in schools, libraries, and everywhere else, it’s important to read and discuss why books matter and why access to them is important. This book will get everyone amped about reading and wanting to spread books far and wide.