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Must-Read Book Club Books for 2022

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It’s never too early to game plan what you and your book club will read throughout the year, especially when it comes to new releases. Therefore, I have composed what I believe will be the most sought after and popular book club books of 2022.

I actually plan this list pretty early on—about spring time of the year prior is when I start. So I’ve had this list going for quite some time, but there are always big-time books that are announced much later on in the year, so be sure to bookmark this page as I will update it with new releases throughout the year. Also, be sure to check out my 2021 list if you haven’t already.

I’m also going to be put together several genre specific lists that will include new releases in 2022, as well as a few from previous years. So keep an eye out for that. And as with tradition, I will link my reviews and book club questions to each title on this list, once they’re complete. So it’s safe to say that I have you covered!

For 2022, we see the return of some of our favorite authors, including Sally Hepworth, Rebecca Serle, and Fiona Davis. There’s also several debut novels, which is always very exciting, because I love promoting new authors! Plus, several of these debut novels already have TV adaptations in the works.

As I’ve done in year’s past, I break down this list by genre: adult fiction (includes contemporary fiction, literary fiction, family sagas, and women’s fiction); thrillers/mysteries, and historical fiction. The books are listed in order of the publication dates.

Now let’s get to the must-read book club picks for 2022! Remember, these are all new releases for the year.

Adult Fiction

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez is one of 2022’s most buzzed about novels and it releases right at the beginning of the year! In fact, Hulu is already planning an hour drama pilot staring Aubrey Plaza based on the novel. The debut centers on a wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots—all in the wake of Hurricane Maria. This is one not to miss. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 percent but she can’t seem to find her own. . . until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.

Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream—all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

Olga Dies Dreaming releases on January 4, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Jacquelyn Mitchard is a bestselling author of many novels include The Deep End of the Ocean, the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. Her latest The Good Son is getting plenty of advanced buzz. It sounds like a book ripe for discussion—a mother helps her son after he is convicted of a horrible crime. Themes will include mother’s love, moral obligations, addressing one’s truth and more. Here’s the synopsis:

What do you do when the person you love best becomes unrecognizable to you? For Thea Demetriou, the answer is both simple and agonizing: you keep loving him somehow.

Stefan was just seventeen when he went to prison for the drug-fueled murder of his girlfriend, Belinda. Three years later, he’s released to a world that refuses to let him move on. Belinda’s mother, once Thea’s good friend, galvanizes the community to rally against him to protest in her daughter’s memory. The media paints Stefan as a symbol of white privilege and indifferent justice. Neighbors, employers, even some members of Thea’s own family turn away.

Meanwhile Thea struggles to understand her son. At times, he is still the sweet boy he has always been; at others, he is a young man tormented by guilt and almost broken by his time in prison. But as his efforts to make amends meet escalating resistance and threats, Thea suspects more forces are at play than just community outrage. And if there is so much she never knew about her own son, what other secrets has she yet to uncover—especially about the night Belinda died?

The Good Son releases on January 18, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

I actually think 2022 might be the year of the debut novel. Case in point, another fantastic debut: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. The novel is also in development as a Hulu original series produced by Marissa Jo Cerar, Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Films), and Kapital Entertainment. Hulu is becoming the home of literary series! Black Cake follows two estranged siblings who are forced to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past. It makes them question everything they thought they knew about their family. Here’s the synopsis:

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage, and themselves.

Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

Black Cake releases on February 1, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle’s recent novels all feature magical realism—this is a contemporary story that includes a magical or fantasy element. I don’t mean dragons and wizards but a bit of time travel, foreseeing the future and in this case, reuniting with one’s lost mother. Her novels always feature a love story—just not the kind you expect. One Italian Summer sounds so fantastic and you should also check out In Five Years and The Dinner List if you haven’t already. Here’s the synopsis for her latest:

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

One Italian Summer releases on March 1, 2022 and you can order it on Amazon here.

The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

Stories about fictional musicians are many times engaging and truly take you to another way of life. In the case of The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith, it follows an indie musician coming to grips with the sudden death of her mother. She eventually agrees to join her somewhat estranged father on a cruise. Another heartfelt novel with characters that will no doubt stick with you. Here’s the synopsis:

Right after the sudden death of her mother—her first and most devoted fan—and just before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing, her career suddenly in jeopardy—the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always predicted; the kind he warned her about when he urged her to make more practical choices with her life. 

Months later, Greta—still heartbroken and very much adrift—reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian, onboard to lecture about The Call of the Wild, who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life. As Greta works to build back her confidence and Ben confronts an uncertain future, they find themselves drawn to and relying on each other.

It’s here in this unlikeliest of places—at sea, far from the packed city venues where she usually plays and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Alaska—Greta will finally confront the choices she’s made, the heartbreak she’s suffered, and the family hurts that run deep. In the end, she’ll have to decide what her path forward might look like—and how to find her voice again.

The Unsinkable Greta James releases on March 1, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

Mysteries/Thrillers

The Maid by Nita Prose

Not to be confused with the nonfiction book MaidThe Maid by Nita Prose promised to be a clue-like mystery. I think those are the best kind! This story follows an eccentric maid who finds a guest murdered in his own bed. Something that stands this one apart from other mysteries is this one is also called a heartwarming journey—not something you always find with a mystery! Here’s the synopsis:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

The Maid releases on January 4, 2022 and you can order it on Amazon here.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley’s The Guest List was selected as a Reese Witherspoon pick in 2020-I enjoyed it! Her thrillers have a bit more depth and also turn into a character study. So I’m excited she has a new one coming out in 2022—The Paris Apartment. The novel is set in Paris (hence the title) where every resident has something to hide in this fancy apartment complex. Here’s the synopsis:

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

The Paris Apartment releases on February 22, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

If psychological thrillers are your thing, look no further than the latest by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen—The Golden Couple. The novel features a therapist with a past and a perfect couple that has plenty of scandalous secrets. This is one of those you’ll read in one sitting. Here’s the synopsis:

If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal–she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault–and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple–until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

The Golden Couple releases on March 8, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

Ooo I enjoy domestic suspense! Sally Hepworth can tell one twisty tell but there’s also plenty of depth in her stories. I’m picky with my thrillers and I have to say, I’m a big fan of hers. The Younger Wife promises a twisty tale of family secrets and lies. Here’s the synopsis:

Stephen Aston is getting married again. The only problem is, he’s still married to his first wife, even though she is in a care facility for dementia. But he’ll take care of that easily, by divorcing her–even if his adult daughters protest.  

Tully and Rachel Aston look upon Heather as nothing but an interloper. Heather is the same age as Rachel and even younger than Tully. Clearly she’s a golddigger and after their father’s money. Heather has secrets that she’s keeping close, and reasons of her own for wanting to marry Stephen.  

With their mother unable to speak for herself, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is. But will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses…in all of them?

The Younger Wife releases on April 5, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown has such an interesting premise—two identical twin sisters and child actors who have grown apart, until one disappears, and the other is forced to confront their shared past. I’m so curious about this one—what happened to the one sister and where the story will go. I’m already trying to solve the mystery! Here’s the synopsis:

As children, Sam and Elli were two halves of a perfect whole: Gorgeous identical twins whose parents sometimes couldn’t even tell them apart. They fell asleep to the sound of each other’s breath at night, holding hands in the dark. And once Hollywood discovered them, they became B-list child TV stars, often inhabiting the same role.

But as adults their lives have splintered. After leaving acting, Elli reinvented herself as the perfect homemaker: Married to a real-estate lawyer, in a house two blocks from the beach. Meanwhile, Sam has never recovered from her failed Hollywood career, or from her addiction to the pills and booze that have propped her up for the last fifteen years.

Sam hasn’t spoken to her sister since her destructive behavior finally drove a wedge between them. So when her father calls out of the blue, Sam is shocked to learn that Elli’s life has been in turmoil: Her husband moved out, and Elli just adopted a two-year-old girl. Now she’s stopped answering her phone and checked in to a mysterious spa in Ojai. Is her sister just decompressing, or is she in trouble? Could she have possibly joined a cult? As Sam works to connect the dots left by Elli’s baffling disappearance, she realizes that the bond between her and her sister is more complicated than she ever knew.

I’ll Be You shows Janelle Brown at the top of her game: a story packed with surprising revelations and sharp insights about the choices that define our families and our lives—and could just as easily destroy them.

I’ll Be You releases on April 26, 2022 and you can order it on Amazon here.

Historical Fiction

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

There’s just something about The Great Gatsby novel, right? Whether you read it in high school or maybe discovered it as an adult, there’s a reason why the book’s popularity is everlasting. So I’m very excited that Jillian Cantor (big fan of her book, In Another Time) decided to write a novel that places the women of The Great Gatsby center stage. Yes, please! Here’s the synopsis:

On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby.

Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire. 

Daisy Buchanan once thought she might marry Gatsby—before her family was torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy that sent her into the arms of the philandering Tom Buchanan.

Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend, guards a secret that derailed her promising golf career and threatens to ruin her friendship with Daisy as well.

Catherine McCoy, a suffragette, fights for women’s freedom and independence, and especially for her sister, Myrtle Wilson, who’s trapped in a terrible marriage.

Their stories unfold in the years leading up to that fateful summer of 1922, when all three of their lives are on the brink of unraveling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby’s romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.

Beautiful Little Fools releases on January 4, 2022 and You can order the book on Amazon here.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

Fiona Davis is one of my favorite authors! Her new historical fiction novel also has elements of a mystery, which is very exciting. The Magnolia Palace features secrets, betrayal, and murder within one of New York City’s most impressive Gilded Age mansions. It also has a dual-timeline, which works so well in historical fiction. Can’t wait for this one! Here’s the synopsis:

Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter’s life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.

Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career—and with it, earn the money she needs to support her family back home—within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica’s financial woes, but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.

The Magnolia Palace releases on January 25, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

Violeta by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s career is so impressive! She won worldwide acclaim in 1982 with the publication of her first novel, The House of the Spirits. Since then, she has authored twenty-six bestselling and critically acclaimed books, which have been translated into more than forty-two languages. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Allende the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and in 2018 she received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. And Violeta sounds like such an impactful read about a woman whose life spans one hundred years. Here’s the synopsis:

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family with five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses everything and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting times of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life is shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately not one, but two pandemics.

Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.

Violeta releases on January 25, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

A historical fiction list must have two things: a WWII-era novel and the latest from Kate Quinn. One of the best in the business, Kate is back with an engaging novel about how a quiet librarian became the history’s deadliest female sniper. This is based on a true story so prepare to Google a ton once you finish it! Here’s the synopsis:

In the snowbound city of Kiev, wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son—but Hitler’s invasion of Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper—a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC—until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

The Diamond Eye releases on March 29, 2022 and you can order it on Amazon here.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez will be one of those novels that will have a lasting impact. The story follows a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who blows the whistle on a terrible wrong done to her patients. It’s inspired by true events. A very important read. Here’s the synopsis:

Montgomery, Alabama, 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a worn-down one-room cabin, she’s shocked to learn that her new patients, Erica and India, are children—just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica, and their family into her heart. Until one day she arrives at the door to learn the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.

Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace, and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten. That must not be forgotten.

Because history repeats what we don’t remember.

Take My Hand releases on April 12, 2022 and you can order the book on Amazon here.

I hope you enjoyed this list and be sure to check back soon, as I will be updating this list throughout the year as more releases are announced. Happy reading!

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