Updated: Aug 21, 2022
Everyone likes to be ambitious when they set up a reading challenge for the New Year. It can be very hard to know where to start. I thought I would make a collection of 22 brilliant books you should add to your TBR. These titles have already been individually reviewed on @readwithms (new account @jemima_reads)
If you want to know where you can find these books, I have a book shopping post
'Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.' - Stephen King
These are not ranked in a particular order
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Mystery | Thriller | Contemporary
If you enjoyed Michaelides' book The Silent Patient, you should check out this one. I remember pre-ordering this book and being so excited when it arrived. I tried to pace myself reading it because I didn't want the story to be over.
I found this book gripping from the first few pages. When starting this book, I was really worried it would not live up to my expectations. However, Michaelides blew me away again with this page-turning thriller.
Mariana is certain of one thing. Edward Fosca is a murderer. She just needs to prove it. However, Fosca is adored by his peers, making Mariana's task exceedingly more difficult...
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Qué Mai
Historical Fiction | War | Lit Fic
This was genuinely one of the most beautiful books I've read this year. The author's writing was just stunning and I found the story to be overall very profound.
This story reflects the devastating consequences of conflict on the lives of everyday people. I could not fault this book at all and I think is a must-read for many.
This story follows the Tran family in the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Absolutely heartbreaking yet every page is beautiful.
What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri
Feminism | Non-Fic | Essays
This book will be included in another blog post I'm working on that is about feminist literature. In a very short essay, Dabiri covers a wide range of topics from capitalism, environmentalism to racism. I read this book in a single evening simply because I could not put it down.
I would argue that not only is this book interesting, but also incredibly important. It allowed me to personally reflect on a lot of issues and reinforced my belief that literature is one of the most valuable tools in educating yourself about a topic. Dabiri's essay was honest, engaging and exceptionally well written. I learned so much from such a short read. I'm going to be adding her other book, Don't Touch My Hair, to my 2022 TBR!
In this small collection of essays, Dabiri explores issues such as racism and how the ripple effects can be found in other concepts such as capitalism, feminism and environmentalism.
The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonial Conquest and Resistance by Rashid Khalidi
History | Non-Fic | Politics
This book has been my most recent addition to my Non-Fiction Recs! If you are interested in non-fiction, I would highly recommend you check out that post.
The war on Palestine is a long and deeply complicated conflict. I appreciated how Khalidi broke everything down into six distinct sections. It helped me process all of the information and each specific time period received the correct amount of focus. I only had a vague understanding of the ongoing conflict in Palestine so I found this book to be extremely helpful in shedding light on a history I wasn't very familiar with. I intend to read a lot more on Palestine and will be adding such books to my Non-Fiction Recs.
In six chapters, Khalidi breaks down the conflict in Palestine that has been raging on for decades. Khalidi also expresses a personal touch, shedding light on how the conflict in Palestine has affected his family.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Mystery | Thriller | Whodunnits
If you've explored my other posts, you can probably tell that I am a huge Agatha Christie fan. This book in particular, as noted on my About page, is what got my back into reading.
I just think nothing can be better than a classic, cosy, murder mystery. This book is the perfect one to try if you are new to Christie's work. This story features Hercule Poirot - there is another more detailed blog post on book recs for this protagonist that you can find here
You may have already seen the film, but I can assure you, the book is so, so much better. If you want more book recs on Christie books in general, feel free to explore my other post that talks about my top Christie recs
The renowned Hercule Poirot is summoned to London to deal with a police matter. Little does he anticipate the need to deploy his 'little grey cells' on the journey. A fellow passenger on the Orient Express is murdered in the night. Poirot knows that only he can solve the case.
The Appeal by Janice Hallett
Mystery | Thriller | Whodunnits
I think Hallett is a brilliant upcoming writer that we should all be watching. This was a book I genuinely struggled to put down. It can be hard to be original with murder mysteries today. However, Hallett has provided a unique way of reading a mystery.
As the reader, you feel engulfed in this world. The clues are all there and you find yourself proactively trying to solve the case. I was incredibly lucky to receive an ARC of Hallett's second book, The Twyford Code. This book will be released in January 2022 and I thought it was awesome.
There has been a murder. All you have are a collection of emails between the suspects. Can you solve the case?
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Mystery | Classics | Lit Fic
If I am being completely honest, I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with Tartt's books. The first book I read was The Goldfinch and I had to DNF that one because I just lost all interest. The Secret Friend was my most recent read and although I preferred it, The Secret History surpasses both of those books by a landslide.
From the first couple of pages, I was already hooked. I just found the characters so intriguing. It was a story that was equally plot-driven as well as character. There was nothing about this book I could fault.
A group of misfits attend a college in New England, majoring in the classics. An accident one night changes all of their lives forever...
The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes
Historical Fic | Mythology | Retellings
Greek mythology is another one of those topics that I find deeply fascinating. I have also dedicated a whole blog post on Greek myth retellings which you can find here
The story of Oedipus always stuck in my mind so I find it really exciting that Haynes wrote a book from Jocasta's perspective. You do not need to be familiar with the myth to enjoy this story. I guess I just geeked out big time when I found this book.
Jocasta is only fifteen years old when she is forced to marry a complete stranger. Her life following such a marriage is one that no one could have possibly foreseen.
The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
Lit Fic | Contemporary | Short Stories
I have no shame in admitting that I did buy this book purely because there was a cat on the cover.
I found this book to be very engaging and heartwarming. I loved how a little cat interlocked all of the different stories. This was a story that made me smile and I think is a worthy book to add to your TBR.
As I've said in my Instagram review of this book, you can't really go wrong with a story featuring a cat. Unless of course, you are reading Pet Sematary. It is probably best to avoid reading that book late at night!
Tokyo is one of the world's largest megacities. A little stray cat wanders around the suburbs and on her adventures comes across some despairing humans.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Fiction | Contemporary | Humour
TW: This book does cover topics such as suicide so please do not pressure yourself to read this one.
Much like Christie, Backman is another author that I love writing about. If you are interested in Backman's books, I have a more detailed blog post you can find here
Backman has this amazing ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time. This book had very dark humour throughout but was also heartwarming. I felt strangely protective over Ove and his relationship with the random cat that kept visiting him. If I had to pick my favourite Backman book, it would be a close call between this one and Anxious People.
Ove hates everyone. God, people were so annoying. What's wrong with pointing out the things that are incorrect? Ove is confronted with an unlikely obstacle. A new, and very loud family moves in next door.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Lit Fic | Contemporary | Adult
TW: This book does cover very distressing topics such as abuse - please double-check for further details before reading this one.
This was a book that I kept seeing everywhere in bookstores. I realised now why it was worth the hype. Russell did a brilliant job at writing a slow-burning, yet gripping thriller. It was a really difficult read because of the topic but I couldn't put it down. I felt so vexed for the main protagonist throughout the book. Russell's writing style was definitely up my street, making this book, overall, a very powerful read.
Vanessa Wye was only fifteen years old when her English teacher started giving her so much attention. It is now 2017 and Vanessa is looking back on what happened to her. Her English teacher is being accused of sexual assault against another student. Vanessa finds herself in an impossible position.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
Contemporary | Feminism | Adult
This book, as well as Convenience Store Woman which will feature here, can be found in my Women in Translation post
This short book explores the everyday misogyny and institutional sexism that women are confronted with on a daily basis.
The challenges the protagonist is confronted with occurs in each phase of her life, broken down into chapters. I think the message behind this book is very important so if you see this book in your local bookstore, get yourself a copy!
Kim Jiyoung lives on the outskirts of Seoul. After having her daughter, she starts to exhibit unusual behaviour, much to the distain of her family and friends.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Contemporary | Fiction | Adult
This was one of my favourite reads and yet one of my closest friends hated this book! I couldn't get my head around how someone could not enjoy this! If you are reading this Ellie, I am here to defend this book! (Don't worry, I respect your book thoughts:D
I just loved the main protagonist, Keiko. Once the author has you rooting for the main character, you know it's going to be hard saying goodbye in the end. Furthermore, I've read Murata's other book Earthlings and also enjoyed it so I think it's safe to say that her books, for me, remain at a high standard.
Keiko has worked at the same store since she was eighteen. Staff members come and go but Keiko remains. It may seem like a bland job. However, Keiko feels a sense of purpose in this store.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Historical Fic | Adult | Lit Fic
I would have to say that this book was one of the most brilliant pieces of literature I have read in a long time. If you only read one book from this list, I would highly recommend Pachinko.
Usually, I prefer fast-paced books. However, the strong focus on the characters made me want to absorb every single word. I did not want this book to end. It was beautiful, eye-opening and deeply moving. This is a book that I have always nagged my fellow bookworms to read. If you enjoyed books like Homegoing and The Mountains Sing, you should read this one!
This story starts with Sunja in the 1900s and follows her family's legacy from Korea to migrating to Japan.
It's Not About The Burqa Edited by Mariam Khan
Non-Fiction | Essays | Feminism
For those wanting to read more feminist literature in 2022, this book is an excellent start. There are a wide variety of different social issues covered in this book, written from the perspectives of different Muslim women.
This book will also feature in my feminist literature post. I found it to be a very valuable read. I feel like everyone could benefit from reading this book.
This book is a collection of essays from different Muslim women discussing topics such as feminism, sex, divorce and queer identity. It's a book exploring their personal experiences with such issues.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Historical Fic | Adult | Lit Fic
Gyasi's other novel, Transcendent Kingdom, is another notable book you should add to your TBR. Gyasi has a wonderful ability to bring a story to life and I found myself completely entranced in this book.
It's really hard to do a brief summary of this book that gives it justice. Everything about this book from its writing, plot and character development was simply beautiful. This is a book that I still think about even though I read it many months ago.
Homegoing follows a family lineage over three hundred years from Ghana to Harlem. Each chapter exploring the lives of each generation and how how they found themselves on their current paths. Simply a masterpiece.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Historical Fic | Mystery | Adult
When I first started this book, I did not have very high expectations. However, the more I read, the harder I found this book to put down. I can forgive this book's slow pace because I think it allowed me to really get attached to the main character Kya. As much as I love fast-paced novels, it can be harder to really feel any kind of connection with the characters.
The last hundred pages really had my attention - I felt so nervous and vexed for Kya. I think one of the reason why I had such a great reading experience with this one is because I had little to no expectations. Owens blew me away.
Rumours of the "Marsh Girl" have always been around at Barkley Cove. Locals usually just ignored Kya Clark. However, when a popular member of the community is found dead, Kya is the immediate suspect.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Fiction | Contemporary | Mental Health
TW: This book does deal with distressing topics such as child abuse and alcoholism so please don't pressure yourself to read this one.
Honeyman's book is also featured in my Books To Cry Over post.
You know you love a book when you buy yourself a tote bag based off the main character. This book broke my heart. I feel like I'm writing this a lot with these books but the main character, Eleanor, is one that has always stayed in my mind. There were moments that were heartwarming and funny. If this book does not make you cry, you are seriously hardcore.
Eleanor Oliphant struggles with basic social competency. She has a habit of always saying what she is thinking. Her life is carefully timetabled. However, everything changes when she meets Raymond.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Contemporary | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
I'm going to cheat slightly and also include the sequel: Tales from the Cafe to this book rec post. Yes, this is another book I purchased purely because there was a cat on the cover.
I found this book to be original, clever and deeply moving. Both books only took a day to read due to being rather short. I would have personally preferred for these tales to have been longer as I did not want to say goodbye to this world. Every character was fascinating in their own way.
This is the most important rule. You must finish the coffee before it gets cold. You must.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Retellings | Historical Fic | Mythology
I feel that every bookworm has at least heard of this book. Much like with Haynes' work, you do not need to be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy this read.
I loved how Miller acknowledge the strong love between Achilles and Patroclus. It's quite frustrating as historically, people have tried to ignore the fact that these two characters were clearly in love with each other. Reading this book encouraged me to finally pick up The Iliad.
Patroclus is an awkward young prince. When he is exiled, he becomes the companion of a young Achilles. Their journey together during the Trojan War sparks a deep relationship that even the Gods can acknowledge.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot by Mikki Kendall
Feminism | Non-Fiction | Essays
Feminist literature is going to appear a lot more in my blog and nothing is going to deter me from doing so.
Kendall's book was one of the most powerful and important books I have read on the topic of feminism. Many different topics are discussed with their relation to healthcare and all of the "inconvenient" truths that white feminists seem to forget. I remember using this book as a form of reference in my undergraduate study.
From gun violence, healthcare to poverty, Kendall sheds light on all of the issues that white feminists have ignored. You won't realise how embedded feminist issues are in society until you read this book.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Historical Fic | Romance | LGBTQIA+
Much like with Donna Tartt, I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Reid. I absolutely adored this book but strongly disliked Daisy Jones & The Six...
This was a book that like many of the others on this list, snatched my attention from the first few pages. I spent the whole book trying to understand the connection between Evelyn Hugo and the journalist, Monique Grant. It was this puzzle and the extraordinary character of Evelyn that made this book a five star read.
Evelyn Hugo is known around the world as a talented movie star. Now that she has reached old age, she is willing to tell her life story. But, for some reason, only to a relatively unknown journalist, Monique.
Congratulations! You made it to the end of this very long list. I hope this selection of different genres will be useful as you start your reading in 2022. These were just my own honest opinions with these books.
(These photographs can be found on my Instagram - @readwithmims)