2022 is almost over. There were so many incredible releases this year and I wanted to read literally hundreds of books – obviously there isn’t time for that, but I did read most of the books I was most anticipating and curious about. I like to get to as many books as possible in the year they get published because usually that’s when they get hype and people pick them up – so if I review them or generally talk about them in that time, there’s a bigger chance that my readers will know the book and be interested, or will have just read the book and we can chat about it. Also, who doesn’t love a shiny new book?
Here are the books I wanted to read this year, and I own some (most) of these, so I’ll probably pick them up at some point!
Ithaca by Claire North
Okay, so Greek myths retellings are getting a bit overdone by now, but I’m not quite over them yet. I was not initially going to read this until I realized it was a retelling of Penelope’s story! And as all my fans know, my cat is named after Penelope, the mythological figure. So, my cat made me request this ARC (?) but I haven’t read yet – I hope to get to it pretty soon.
Seventeen years ago, King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them has returned, and the women of Ithaca have been left behind to run the kingdom.
Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. While he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are beginning to knock at her door.
No one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne—not yet. But everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, and Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning, wit, and her trusted circle of maids, can she maintain the tenuous peace needed for the kingdom to survive.
This is the story of Penelope of Ithaca, famed wife of Odysseus, as it has never been told before. Beyond Ithaca’s shores, the whims of gods dictate the wars of men. But on the isle, it is the choices of the abandoned women—and their goddesses— that will change the course of the world.
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz
I picked this up after it was highly recommended by Willow at Books and Bao, and I’m so excited for this! I’M planning to pick it up during my Christmas vacation so I can read it peacefully instead of in snippets during my commute and lunch breaks.
IT’S 1895. Amid laundry and bruises, Rina Pierangeli Faccio gives birth to the child of the man who raped her – and who she has also been forced to marry. Unbroken, she determines to change her name; and her life, alongside it.
1902. Romaine Brooks sails for Capri. She has barely enough money for the ferry, nothing for lunch; her paintbrushes are bald and clotted… But she is sure she can sell a painting – and is fervent in her belief that the island is detached from all fates she has previously suffered.
… In 1923, Virginia Woolf writes: I want to make life fuller – and fuller.
Told in a series of cascading vignettes, featuring a multitude of voices, After Sappho is Selby Wynn Schwartz’s joyous reimagining of the lives of a brilliant group of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in the late 19th and early 20th century as they battle for control over their lives; for liberation and for justice.
Sarah Bernhard – Colette – Eleanora Duse – Lina Poletti – Josephine Baker – Virginia Woolf… these are just a few of the women (some famous, others hitherto unsung) sharing the pages of a novel as fierce as it is luminous. Lush and poetic; furious and funny; in After Sappho, Selby Wynn Schwartz has created a novel that celebrates the women and trailblazers of the past – and also offers hope for our present, and our futures.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors
This is another one that I’m not sure what the plot is and I want to go into it a little bit blind. All I know is that it’s a story about relationships (romantic ones, I think?), and it seems to be that kind of sad litfic that I enjoy, in the vain of My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Luster.
Twenty-four-year-old British painter Cleo has escaped from England to New York and is still finding her place in the sleepless city when, a few months before her student visa ends, she meets Frank. Twenty years older and a self-made success, Frank’s life is full of all the excesses Cleo’s lacks. He offers her the chance to be happy, the freedom to paint, and the opportunity to apply for a Green Card. But their impulsive marriage irreversibly changes both their lives, and the lives of those close to them, in ways they never could’ve predicted.
Each compulsively readable chapter explores the lives of Cleo, Frank, and an unforgettable cast of their closest friends and family as they grow up and grow older. Whether it’s Cleo’s best friend struggling to embrace his gender queerness in the wake of Cleo’s marriage, or Frank’s financially dependent sister arranging sugar daddy dates to support herself after being cut off, or Cleo and Frank themselves as they discover the trials of marriage and mental illness, each character is as absorbing, and painfully relatable, as the last.
As hilarious as it is heartbreaking, entertaining as it is deeply moving, Cleopatra and Frankenstein marks the entry of a brilliant and bold new talent.
Nettleblack by Nat Reeve
I also picked this up after recommendation from Willow, it just sounds incredible. It’s set in Victorian era, it has mysteries and murders in a small town, plus it’s told through letters and journal entries (which I love), it sounds incredible. This is another that I want to read when I have some time off, because it’s hefty and it sounds so atmospheric, I just want to take my time reading this in peace. My 2 weeks of vacation will have to do lots of work to fit all the books I want to read!
The year is 1893. Having run away from her family home to escape an arranged marriage, Welsh heiress Henry Nettleblack finds herself ambushed, robbed, and then saved by the mysterious Dallyangle Division – part detective agency, part neighbourhood watch. Desperate to hide from her older sisters, Henry disguises herself and enlists. But the Division soon finds itself under siege from a spate of crimes and must fight for its very survival. Assailed by strange feelings for her new colleague – the tomboyish, moody Septimus – Henry quickly sees that she’s lost in a small rural town with surprisingly big problems. And to make things worse, sinister forces threaten to expose her as the missing Nettleblack sister. As the net starts to close around Henry, the new people in her life seem to offer her a way out, and a way forward. Is the world she’s lost in also a place she can find herself?
Told through journal entries and letters, Nettleblack is a picaresque ride through the perils and joys of finding your place in the world, challenging myths about queerness – particularly transness – as a modern phenomenon, while exploring the practicalities of articulating queer perspectives when you’re struggling for words.
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
I want to go into this one knowing little to nothing, I’ve heard it’s amazing and if you want to know more about it, I’ve copied the synopsis below! I think it will be a dark, heartbreaking litfic and it looks great.
Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent–which has more than doubled–and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed.
One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.
Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough
Sarah Pinborough’s books are not for everyone – they’re really out there, completely bonkers and a lot of them are supernatural. I had mixed feeligs about Behind Her Eyes, but had such fun reading it that I really want to pick this up. I’m not super intent on reading this, which is why I wanted to read it before the end of the year, before it starts falling behind on my radar. I don’t currently have any plans to read this, but do hope to get to it at some point.
In this twisty, mind-bending thriller from the bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes, Emma Averell worries that her crippling insomnia is a sign that she’s slowly going insane—like the mother she’s worked so hard to leave in her past.
Emma Averell loves her life—her high-powered legal career, her two beautiful children, and her wonderful stay-at-home husband—but it wasn’t always so perfect. When she was just five years old, Emma and her older sister went into foster care because of a horrific incident with their mother. Her sister can remember a time when their mother was loving and “normal,” but Emma can only remember her as one thing—a monster. And that monster emerged right around their mother’s fortieth birthday, the same age Emma is approaching now.
Emma desperately wants to keep her successful life separate from her past, so she has always hidden her childhood trauma. But then she’s unable to sleep, and now losing time during the day, also one of the first symptoms her mother showed. Is the madness in her blood, just as her mother predicted? Could she end up hurting her family in her foggy, frenetic state? Or is she truly beginning to lose her mind?
The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
I loved The Book of M, so this was initially very high on my radar, but ended up falling behind because I forgot about it entirely. Since I got rejected an ARC and don’t buy books all that often (I mostly listen to books on Scribd), this kind of just fell of my radar. Also, I haven’t heard anything about it, so no idea if it’s any good? I read a couple of the reviews in Goodreads but that’s usually not the best way for me to assess whether this is a book I will like or not…
Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.
But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable and exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence… because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.
To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret and discovers the true power that lies in maps…
Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James
Okay, so I have a reason to not have read this yet. This is the second installment of Marlin James’ fantasy series and I LOVED the first book, then received an ARC for the second book and – it got archived before I could read it. As I don’t buy physical books very often at all plus I can’t say for sure that a series I loved a couple of years ago is still my cup of tea, I’ve been delaying and delaying getting a copy of this, and by now I doubt I’ll get to it before next year.
In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own.
Both a brilliant narrative device—seeing the story told in Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the perspective of an adversary and a woman—as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality, and the places where they overlap.
Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire
Another one that is a second installment of series whose first book I loved. This isn’t focusing on the characters of the first book, so it just kind of fell of my radar after a while, I’m wondering it to pick it up next year for Fall? It just looks like such a perfect Fall read.
Melanie has a destiny, though it isn’t the one everyone assumes it to be. She’s delicate; she’s fragile; she’s dying. Now, truly, is the winter of her soul.
Harry doesn’t want to believe in destiny, because that means accepting the loss of the one person who gives his life meaning, who brings summer to his world.
So, when a new road is laid out in front of them—a road that will lead through untold dangers toward a possible lifetime together—walking down it seems to be the only option.
But others are following behind, with violence in their hearts.
It looks like Destiny has a plan for them, after all….
Self-Portrait with Ghost: Short Stories by Meng Jin
This is a classic “the problem is me, not you!. I loved Meng Jin’s Little Gods SO much, but I don’t really gravitate towards short stories, so this gorgeous-looking collection (that I’m sure is a banger) has been metaphorically collecting dust in my eReader.
Meng Jin’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Little Gods, was praised as “spectacular and emotionally polyphonic (Omar El-Akkad, BookPage), “powerful” (Washington Post), and “meticulously observed, daringly imagined” (Claire Messud). Now Jin turns her considerable talents to short fiction, in ten thematically linked stories.
Written during the turbulent years of the Trump administration and the first year of the pandemic, these stories explore intimacy and isolation, coming-of-age and coming to terms with the repercussions of past mistakes, fraying relationships and surprising moments of connection. Moving between San Francisco and China, and from unsparing realism to genre-bending delight, Self-Portrait with Ghost considers what it means to live in an age of heightened self-consciousness, seemingly endless access to knowledge, and little actual power.
Page-turning, thought-provoking, and wholly unique, Self-Portrait with Ghost further establishes Meng Jin as a writer who “reminds us that possible explanations in our universe are as varied as the beings who populate it” (Paris Review).
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
I loved Elsewhere and Young Jane Young, but I feel like both books kind of flew under the radar (comparatively, that is, to other books that I heard a lot more buzz about when these two came out). I’m a bit suspicious about this one blowing up, although I can’t say why. In my mind, if I loved two books that a lot of people didn’t care much for, then maybe I won’t care much about this book that’s getting so much buzz? The logic makes no sense and I know I should just read this, and maybe I will!
In this exhilarating novel by the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry two friends–often in love, but never lovers–come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.
On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.
Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe
It says “Patrick Radden Keefe”, so obviously I will end up reading this (I loved both Say Nothing and Empire of Pain). But as said I’m not a huge fan of collections of stories (even true ones), so I am dawdling instead of reading this. But I will!
Patrick Radden Keefe has garnered prizes ranging from the National Magazine Award to the Orwell Prize to the National Book Critics Circle Award for his meticulously reported, hypnotically engaging work on the many ways people behave badly. Rogues brings together a dozen of his most celebrated articles from The New Yorker. As Keefe says in his preface, “They reflect on some of my abiding preoccupations: crime and corruption, secrets and lies, the permeable membrane separating licit and illicit worlds, the bonds of family, the power of denial.”
Keefe brilliantly explores the intricacies of forging $150,000 vintage wines, examines whether a whistleblower who dared to expose money laundering at a Swiss bank is a hero or a fabulist, spends time in Vietnam with Anthony Bourdain, chronicles the quest to bring down a cheerful international black market arms merchant, and profiles a passionate death penalty attorney who represents the “worst of the worst,” among other bravura works of literary journalism.
The appearance of his byline in The New Yorker is always an event, and collected here for the first time readers can see his work forms an always enthralling but deeply human portrait of criminals and rascals, as well as those who stand up against them.
Bliss Montage by Ling Ma
Oh, same thing really – I adored Severance, it will always have a special place in my heart, as I found it strangely soothing to read during the beginning of the pandemic (don’t ask) – but as a short story collection, I don’t find myself too drawn to it. That cover is so stunning though, I’m thinking of reading it during Summer next year.
What happens when fantasy tears through the screen of the everyday to wake us up? Could that waking be our end?
In Bliss Montage, Ling Ma brings us eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home. From a woman who lives in a house with all of her ex-boyfriends, to a toxic friendship built around a drug that makes you invisible, to an ancient ritual that might heal you of anything if you bury yourself alive, these and other scenarios reveal that the outlandish and the everyday are shockingly, deceptively, heartbreakingly similar.
3 thoughts on “Books Released in 2022 I Wish I’d Read This Year”
Quite the list! I see you have busy schedule ahead of you.
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Yes! Exciting 🙂
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I’ve read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. I found it a decent read, but as I sit on it, I want to revise my rating down (from 3.5 to 3). I think maybe the reason I rated it higher and marked Yes for recommend, was due to having experienced (and still experiencing) the sexism in a male dominated field. Well, and because of Marx – I like him. So maybe read it after the others, but borrow from the library.
Btw, I had no idea there was hype about it – it was picked by my bookclub soon after it came out, just based on the fact that we usually pick from newly released given we meet in a bookshop. I haven’t looked into what the hype was, just that it exists – after seeing it on a stand in a bookstore with a “booktok” sign.