New year, new books! Discover your next read, get those preorders in, and clear space on your shelves for Book Riot’s most anticipated books of 2022.
Note: Release dates are subject to change, based on publisher, author, and/or supply chain considerations.
A beautifully written memoir that disentangles both loved and difficult episodes, and their connection to people and places who would shape and inspire the life of a Mexican American woman. This book is also a compilation of moments with the protagonist’s grandmother, whose voice the reader will remember long after finishing the book. Ándale Prieta carves a portrait of the border region from two languages, music, food, and the colors of the desert. It is a portrait removed from stereotypes, rich with the casual tone of its language. It is a portrait that feels true to the experience of living between two cultures, and true to the experience of growing up with the guidance of loving figures and the resonating memory of their lives.
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot, 2)
The next volume in Becky Chambers’s magnificent Monk and Robot series, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is a read I know will be soothing and full of brilliant introspection. It follows tea monk Sibling Dex and robot Mosscap as they traverse their little moon, exploring the nature of humanity and its needs. This is a tale I need for 2022 (since we’re all tiptoeing into the new year, right?). The first book, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, was a balm to my soul during tough times. I anticipate Crown-Shy will be the same. For readers looking for science fiction with a big heart, Becky Chambers is always at the top of the list.
An Arrow to the Moon
Emily X.R. Pan’s long-awaited second novel is finally coming, and what a doozy it is sure to be! I absolutely cannot get enough of Asian-inspired twists on classics that allow me to see myself represented, and am especially a sucker for Romeo and Juliet reimaginings. So all I needed to see was the “Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology” tagline before instantly scrambling to calculate exactly how long I’d have to wait to get this story of two high schoolers navigating love, family secrets, and a little magic into my hands.
Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality
Four years ago, readers met Aru Shah for the first time. She and her spiritual sisters are each a reincarnation of one of the legendary Pandava brothers and are tasked with protecting the universe from the Sleeper. With each book in the series, we’ve traveled with Aru and her sisters as they complete quests across many worlds. For readers, Aru has come to feel like a close friend who we’ve watched learn and grow over the years. Now with the final installment, Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality, it’s time for Aru and her sisters’ adventures to come to an end. And in their final lesson, they must learn how to say goodbye.
Bitter is a companion novel to Pet, which was truly one of the most phenomenal books I’ve read. Emezi’s storytelling is other-worldly. It transports you, tears you apart, and thrusts you back together again. Bitter is a prequel to Pet which focuses on the story of the mother of Pet’s protagonist. Bitter is an exploration of social-revolution, both the cost of it and its importance. It is about young people leading the way, which I imagine will include bravery beyond any expectations. This will be Emezi’s fifth published work in under four years. Their writing changes readers and I am ready for the change that reading Bitter will spark.
Book of Night
After years of keeping us enthralled with her young adult books about faeries, Holly Black makes her adult novel debut! The hype is real. In Book of Night, Black introduces us to a world where shadows can be manipulated — for superficial reasons and for sinister ones. Our heroine, Charlie Hall, is just trying to get by while distancing herself from this underground world of shadow magic. But when her past catches up to her, she finds she may have no choice in the matter. Not if she wants to survive, anyway. Featuring deadly magic, even deadlier secrets, and sisters facing off against one another, longtime fans are in for a treat.
The Mountain Goats have been my most-listened-to band on Spotify for approximately 9,000 years. When John Darnielle first started writing novels, I was terrified they’d be terrible and I would no longer love all things about him. Thankfully, Wolf in White Van was fantastic (and nominated for the National Book Award) as was Universal Harvester. When he was touring for the UH, he came to Prairie Lights in my lovely town and cried real tears of gratitude and joy at being in Iowa, reading at one of the most famous bookstores in the country. In a world that loves irony, it’s so lovely to read/listen to a person who is so brilliant and sincere.
March can’t come quickly enough for me to dive into this eerie and beautiful story that has been pitched as The Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak of all things. Plus, Schwab’s lyrical and fairytale-like writing is perfect for this book! Gallant follows a girl named Olivia — who, after being away for ages, is finally invited back home. But once she’s there, things are…not great. Her cousin’s hostile towards her, and half-formed ghosts roam the hallways. But Olivia is determined to stay and uncover the house’s secrets. That’s how she crosses a ruined wall, and finds herself in a Coraline-like world in which everything is not quite the same.
In this vivid epic of a novel, Bulawayo uses the voices of the animal kingdom to tell the story of a fictionalized country whose oppressive regime is on the verge of falling. Inspired by the fall of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, this book is an allegorical swirl of ruthless power and rushing rebellion. Bulawayo writes the buried history of the women who have helped build the country and dives into the people’s trauma and their power, into the chaos of upheaval. Glory is like nothing we’ve read before. It’s a strange, creative, experimental book that will take the reading world by storm, a satire grounded in hope.
After vowing never to return to India, Indian American journalist Smita returns to cover a story — the story of Meena, a Hindu whose husband was killed (as she too nearly was) by her own brothers because he was Muslim. As Smita struggles to reconcile the place of her family with the privilege she has as an American, she also needs to come to terms with what happened to caused her family to leave in the first place. Umrigar’s writing is always beautiful and thought-provoking, and I look forward to reading this one.
I Came All This Way to Meet You
As someone who’s followed Jami Attenberg’s writing career closely and been to multiple of her author events — including one where she talked movingly about how it feels when you’re not meeting certain thresholds of success as a writer — I can’t wait to read her memoir. I’m hoping it’ll give me renewed courage for my own not-always-successful writing journey.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Casey McQuiston is the author who got me reading adult romance, so it makes sense that I’m so ready for their YA debut. Not only is I Kissed Shara Wheeler a YA sapphic romance, it’s also set in the South at a private school. There’s also a mystery and possibly a ghost? I love it already, even if I can feel the ache in my chest that it’s going to cause. The fact that this book is coming out during my birth month has me convinced that Casey wrote this book for me.
Like a Sister
Most mystery books slot into a sub-genre and level of light/darkness for specific readers. Kellye Garrett has written the rarer kind of mystery that feels fit for all mystery fans: acknowledging established tropes while going in new directions, tossing in a red herring, and creating a murder mystery that never goes into cozy territory nor into dark and graphic. Follow as Lena looks into her half-sister’s death, is forced to face long established complicated family dynamics, gets a “partner” in sleuthing, and accidentally puts herself in danger. Treat 2022 you with a pre-buy or by letting your library know you want it — Soon You can thank Past You.
Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies
As soon as I heard this cozy series starter has Pushing Daisies vibes, I was sold. Those are the best possible vibes for a mystery to have — the perfect mix of charming and darkly hilarious. Daisy Ellery comes from a magical family, and she serves justice by making magical — and often deadly — pies for abusive men. But when an anonymous blackmailer threatens to reveal her secret, she must uncover the culprit with her life (and the lives of the blackmailer’s past victims) on the line.
Moon Witch, Spider King
Fantasy fans! There is no excuse to skip this book in 2022. Moon Witch, Spider King is the second book in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy. But while it’s the second book in a trilogy, James says these books can be read and enjoyed in any order. That’s because this second novel takes place at the same time as the first, but this time, it’s from the perspective of Sogolon the Moon Witch, who was Tracker’s adversary in the first novel. So even if you somehow missed Black Leopard, Red Wolf when it came out in 2019, you can still read this one. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on it. Now, let’s all stare at this gorgeous cover.
Never Cross a Highlander
When Lisa Rayne dropped her cover reveal in early 2021, Twitter went absolutely bonkers. This cover, amirite? Highlander romances aren’t quite a dime a dozen anymore, but they’re still pretty common. HOWEVER. Never before, in any of our lives, have we seen a highlander romance with a cover like this one. And with the very short description that references Mr. and Mrs. Smith, one of the best action romcoms in the history of the genre? Sign. Me. Up. (Especially since it was supposed to release at the end of 2021— alas, we now have to wait until May.)
One For All
This is the first traditionally published book that I know of that has a main character with the same disability I do — postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome! This is SO exciting and so major for me. I’ve already read it, and I didn’t realize how much I needed to see myself in a book until now. It’s a super fun, gender-bent YA retelling of The Three Musketeers, featuring four girl musketeers saving the king and France, though the main character, Tania de Batz, also wants to avenge her father’s murder. Action, intrigue, feminism, romance, this novel is just a blast to read from start to finish.
Our Crooked Hearts
I will read anything by Melissa Albert after her brilliant Hazel Wood series, and this one looks delicious. Another mother/daughter story, this one told in two timelines and with what look to be major witchy vibes? YES, PLEASE. In the suburbs, now, Ivy is having a weird summer, and there’s a mysterious person who appeared in the middle of the night. In the city, then, Dana and her friends are experimenting with the supernatural. Eventually, their stories will intersect, because Dana is Ivy’s mother.
Our Wives Under the Sea
I read this book this past summer and it now haunts a space in my brain. It’s a sublimely gorgeous novel about Leah and her wife, Miri. Leah reports for a routine submarine excursion on the ocean floor. But then the submarine doesn’t reappear. At home, Miri is panicked, expecting the worst and unable to get any answers. And then weeks later, the sub rises again without explanation. But Leah is not the same person when she returns home. Readers are treated to a stunning love story about a couple trying to make sense of their new unfamiliar situation, while also learning about what happened to Leah on the ocean floor. It’s pretty much perfect.
Vivek Shraya has incredible range — her work includes fiction, poetry, graphic memoir, a play, kidlit, and nonfiction. I never know what she’ll do next, but whenever I see she has a new book coming out, it goes immediately to the top of my TBR. I can’t wait for her latest work of nonfiction, which is all about change. Using the changes she’s experienced in her own life as a jumping-off point, Shraya ruminates on change itself, and what it has to teach us. I fully expect to underline every other sentence in this 112-page book. Shraya’s ability to pack so much profound and world-expanding thought into short books is truly amazing.
Saga Issue #55
If you’re a fan of Saga, you already know that this amazing comic book is coming back from hiatus with issue #55 on January 26. If you aren’t a fan of Saga, you should be. This blend of science fiction and fantasy into an epic space opera has everything. Family drama, romance, action, politics, people with televisions for heads, and Lying Cat. People who barely know comic books will ask if I’ve read Saga, and for good reason. Now is the time to catch up and prepare for the second half of this brilliant story.
I’ve adored everything that Lily Anderson has published, and I can’t get enough of this cover or premise: A top secret organization dedicated to killing monsters is disguised as a proper ladies’ social group called the Ladybird Scouts. Protagonist Prue left the group when her best friend was killed, but now she’s looking to get back in for her own reasons. Yes, please. I can already guess that this is going to be a hilarious and gripping read.
Classic Hollywood, queer romance, and literal monsters and magic infiltrating the world of the silver screen—that sounds like my kind of story. And as if a historical fantasy book about a Chinese American woman in pre-code Hollywood trying to make it as an actress isn’t enough of my jam (it is), it’s also by Nghi Vo?? I mean, come on. I’m here, and I’m ready.
The Book of Cold Cases
Simone St. James’s latest mystery takes us to Claire Lake, Oregon, a town shook by the Lady Killer Murders in 1977: two seemingly unrelated men were killed with the same gun with suspicious notes left behind. The perfect suspect for the crime was the wealthy Beth Greer, an eccentric twentysomething woman seen fleeing the scene. But after her acquittal, she retreats into her mansion to rarely be seen again. In 2017, receptionist-turned-true crime obsessive Shea Collins runs a website called The Book of Cold Cases and asks Beth for an interview. But the more time she spends in the Greer house, the more she believes many things are not right.
The End of the World House
Comedy + the end of the world? Count me in. I’ve been turning to books that make me laugh or smile or that cast snarky glances at the current world, and this one sounds like the perfect read. Bertie and Kate, in an attempt to distract them from Kate’s recent decision to move away, decide to take a girls’ trip to Paris. Only once they’re there, they can’t seem to get out, stuck in a day that keeps repeating and growing increasingly panicked with every loop.
The Feeling of Falling in Love
Mason Deaver’s books keep getting better. They have an amazing instinct for the perfect situation in which to put a character that will make them confront their fears, hidden desires, and dreams. Neil is supposed to bring his casual hook-up buddy Josh to a wedding in Los Angeles, but Neil cuts it off when Josh says he’s fallen in love with Neil. Instead, Neil brings his roommate Wyatt along and gets subjected to Wyatt’s cutting questions and judgment. While on an undesirable vacation together, they’re forced to sit with and understand each other. Fans of Mason Deaver and young adult books in general will fall hard for Neil and Wyatt.
Almost as common in the romance genre as an HEA is a series built around a close-knit group of single people who fall in love in one book after another, from knitting clubs to sports teammates to a personal favorite of mine: rock bands. Xio Axelrod’s second chance romance The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes was one of the best of the genre in 2021, and before I’d even finished it, I started Googling to see which member of the all-female band The Lillys was going to star in book #2. Turns out it’s Kayla, the mysterious red-headed drummer from Athens (Georgia, not Greece), and I can’t wait for the fictional band to get back together.
The Merciless Ones
In The Gilded Ones, Namina Forna introduced us to outcast-turned-warrior Deka of Irfut, who was cast aside from her village when it was discovered that her blood ran gold, a sign of her powers and ability to ward off the deathshriekers that threaten her kingdom. In the heavily anticipated sequel, Deka begins to see a mysterious symbol that interferes with the very abilities that set her apart. As more threats begin to rise, Deka will have to find a new way to win her battles. Deka’s story combines heart, friendship, and feminism in a dark and violent world, and I can’t wait for more.
Ah, the ’90s. As a baby of 1991, I have only vague memories of much of the decade, so I’m thrilled that the great pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman is taking it on in The Nineties. Let’s set the scene: Grunge, Titanic, Zima, boy bands, the internet, Seinfeld, and some seriously strange politics. Only very fancy people had cell phones, and if you weren’t home during prime time, you just missed that episode of Friends. Grab your best denim and body glitter for a nostalgic romp through the ’90s.
This is the author of Cinderella is Dead‘s middle grade debut and it has vampires! But if for some reason, you need more to convince you, it was pitched as Stranger Things with a Buffy twist. Vampires were hunted to extinction 13 years ago, but Boog’s parents still make her follow the old rules like never inviting anyone in and always carrying garlic. When a new student goes missing, Boog starts to doubt if the vampires are all really gone. She’ll have to decide just how far she’s willing to go to find out. We’re still waiting on a cover reveal for this one — stay tuned!
These Deadly Games
Crystal Donavan receives a video of her sister being gagged. Now Crystal has to play the kidnapper’s game or she might put her sister’s life at risk. The bizarre tasks she is made to execute have been strategically designed to hurt and kill someone close to her. Has someone found out what Crystal and her friends did in the past, therefore seeking revenge? Or do they simply want to remove her team from the tournament? This story of wit and courage of a young girl is bound to be exciting! And the suspense of whether she makes it at the end adds further to its appeal.
TJ Powar Has Something To Prove
When TJ and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme, where TJ is hailed for removing her body hair and Simran is condemned for not, TJ knows she needs to take action. She resolves to stop shaving and waxing, to prove that she can be her hairy self and still be beautiful. But TJ is not entirely sure she can win this debate. TJ Powar is a powerful novel that tackles body image with nuance. It shines a light on body hair, and the stigmas that come with it, specifically for brown girls. If you want a book with intersectional feminism, a rivals-to-lovers romance to die for, and laugh out loud humour, this isn’t one you want to miss.
We Weren’t Looking To Be Found
Kuehn writes some of the most compelling literary YA exploring mental health, and her forthcoming title promises to be no exception. Two girls of color, neither of whom understands why she engaged in self-destructive behaviors, find themselves roommates at a rural treatment facility. While Dani and Camila don’t think they’ll get along, they find themselves working together to crack the mystery of a former resident’s box of letters. Who was this girl? What happened to her? A complex story of friendship, heartbreak, mental illness, and maybe even hope.
If you read The Ex Talk and thought you needed a new Rachel Lynn Solomon romance book, fear not because it’s coming out very soon! Think Set It Up (2018), the Netflix romcom, but this romance takes place in the meteorology world. Ari Abrams, TV meteorologist, only wants to have the perfect mentor to show her the ropes, but her boss is currently distracted by her relationship with her ex-husband, so she’s not being of any help. The only one who can understand Ari is sports reporter Russell, so they come up with a plan to patch things up between their bosses.
What Moves the Dead
Because I so adored T. Kingfisher’s previous titles, it was a no-brainer for me to pre-order What Moves the Dead. Kingfisher’s ability to weave humor into horror is top-notch, and I can’t wait to see how things play out in this retelling of the classic Edgar Allen Poe story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” In Kingfisher’s version, the protagonist rushes to the bedside of their dying childhood friend, only to discover that there’s more to worry about than impending death. Why is their friend’s home being consumed by wildlife? What is truly wrong with the dying Madeline Usher? And what of Madeline’s oddly anxious brother? TELL ME.
Where the Drowned Girls Go
I am so excited to read the seventh book in the Wayward Children series. The idea is that children can find doors into other worlds, magnificent varied worlds — candy worlds or worlds of the dead. But what if you are ejected from the world and find yourself in back in your regular life? For children who have difficulty adjusting to their old lives, there’s Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. And for students who need something different, something more dangerous, there is Whitethorn Institute. This book continues the story of Cora as she goes to this other school. I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Nina LaCour’s beautiful and often heartbreaking books have destroyed and delighted me many times over. In fact, her incredibly insightful queer YA novels never let me down and so I am definitely quivering with anticipation for Yerba Buena, LaCour’s debut adult fiction novel. Set in Los Angeles, it tells the story of Sara and Emilie, two young women making their way through experiences of love, trauma, and grief, as they meet and fall into a passionate and life-altering romance. This seems like a gloriously melancholy book to read as I hide from the cold outside world, snuggled on my sofa under a warm, fuzzy blanket. Can’t wait.
I will read literally anything by Akwaeke Emezi, the groundbreaking author who’s already made huge waves in the literary fiction, middle grade fantasy, and memoir genres. Now they’re ready to take on the world of romance with the story of Feyi, an artist on the precipice of life-changing success and unsure if she’s ready for a second chance at love. It’s bound to blow your socks off. Even better, it’s already being adapted for the screen by Amazon Studios with Emezi as executive producer. You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty is one incredible romance you won’t want to miss!