Our top tips for the best reads of 2022

Memoirs, Greek mythology-inspired novels and books to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee will all make their mark, Hannah Stephenson is told.
Our top tips for the best reads of 2022

What books will be on the bestseller lists in 2022? Picture: Stock

A RAFT of memoirs and some hot debuts all look set to hit the bestseller lists in 2022, experts are predicting.

Anticipated fiction big hitters include Elektra (Headline, Apr 28) from Jennifer Saint, whose debut Ariadne is on Waterstone’s shortlist for 2021 book of the year and whose follow-up continues the trend towards the retelling of Greek mythology for a contemporary audience.

Elektra by Jennifer Saint. 
Elektra by Jennifer Saint. 

“Ariadne is our fifth bestselling hardback for the whole of the year in fiction,” explains Bea Carvalho, head fiction buyer at Waterstones.

“Considering the number of high profile authors who had books out in 2021, she’s only been beaten by Richard Osman, Sally Rooney and Kazuo Ishiguro.

“Greek retellings have been really popular recently, particularly putting female-centric spins on those familiar tales for a modern audience.”

Popular fiction favourites Richard Osman’s third book in his Thursday Murder Club series is due out in September and is as yet untitled – but huge sales are anticipated considering that his second novel, The Man Who Died Twice (Viking), did even better than his successful first instalment.

There’s a novel collaboration between singer Dolly Parton and best-selling thriller writer James Patterson called Run Rose Run (Cornerstone, Mar 7), which is bound to attract plenty of publicity. 

It’ll be the usual rollercoaster ride that Patterson creates in his fiction, but this time sales should go through the roof with the help of Parton’s huge fan-base.

Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes.
Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes.

Book stands will be awash with Again, Rachel (Penguin Michael Joseph, Feb 17) popular Irish author Marian Keyes’ follow-up to her hit novel Rachel’s Holiday.

“The House Of Fortune (Pan Macmillan, Jul 7), Jessie Burton’s sequel to The Miniaturist, which won book of the year three years ago (and was made into a BBC TV series), sees a return to 18th century Amsterdam and will be a key title in historical fiction,” Carvalho adds.

The House Of Fortune by Jessie Burton.
The House Of Fortune by Jessie Burton.

The Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood. 
The Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood. 

Of the literary heavyweights, Margaret Atwood’s new collection of essays, Burning Questions (Chatto & Windus, Mar 1) is likely to be a winner, says Carvalho.

The essays cover everything from a financial crash to the rise of Trump and a pandemic. From debt to tech, the climate crisis to freedom; from when to dispense advice to the young (answer: only when asked) to how to define granola.

 To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara. 
 To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara. 

Other big leads include To Paradise from Hanya Yanagihara (Picador, Jan 11), following on from her hugely successful second novel A Little Life. This one’s a trio of stories, all set in New York City 100 years apart, offering three alternative versions of the American dream.

“A Little Life was a cult classic and remains a best-seller, so a new stand-alone is the one booksellers are keen to get their hands on,” Carvalho says.

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart. 
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart. 

“In that category we also have Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador, April 14), following on from his 2020 Booker Prize-winning Shuggie Bain. The book acts as a companion, another tale of tender souls in tough places and what it’s like to be young, gay and in a working class community in 1980s Glasgow.”

Ali Smith has also written Companion Piece (Penguin, Apr 7), a follow-up to her Seasonal Quartet.

“She’s covered everything from Brexit to Covid and the migrant crisis and this one aims to pull it all together, reflecting on the last turbulent few years,” Carvalho explains.

“One to watch is White Debt by Thomas Harding (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Jan 6) about the Demerara slave uprising that partly led to the total abolition of slavery,” says Caroline Sanderson, associate editor of trade publication The Bookseller.

His Name Is George Floyd by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa.
His Name Is George Floyd by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa.

News stories so often lead to in-depth accounts and one to watch is His Name Is George Floyd by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa (Bantam, May 26), both reporters for The Washington Post, telling Floyd’s personal story within the context of America’s troubled race history.

It features fresh and exclusive reporting as well as unparalleled access to Floyd’s family and the people who were closest to him.

The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.
The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.

In fiction, The Love Songs Of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Fourth Estate, Jan 20), a story of race and love in America, has already been published in the U.S to great acclaim – it was an Oprah Book Club pick – and this debut is gathering much interest here.

“There will also be books about the climate crisis and sustainability. That has to be a growing trend and we all have to get on board.

Birdgirl by Mya-Rose Craig.
Birdgirl by Mya-Rose Craig.

A book I’m looking forward to is Birdgirl (Jonathan Cape, Jun 30), a nature memoir by climate activist Mya-Rose Craig , who is famous for her ornithology,” says Sanderson.

Bonnie Wright, the Greenpeace ambassador who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, has written Go Gently: Actionable Steps To Nurture Yourself And The Planet, her guide to changing your habits to live more sustainably (Greenfinch, April 19).

“The first half of next year is massive for memoirs,” Sanderson observes. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many memoirs and I don’t know if it’s because lockdown has given people time to write their story or if it’s because there have been so many difficult and traumatic stories coming out of the times that we’ve been through.”

Celebrity fans should watch for Minnie Driver’s new memoir, Managing Expectations (Manilla Press, May 12), while Sheridan Smith’s autobiography Honestly (Ebury Spotlight, Oct 14) promises an honest account of her rise to success and her struggles with mental health.

Dragon’s Den star Sara Davies, who recently appeared on Strictly, is bringing out We Can All Make It (Bantam, Apr 28), chronicling how she went from factory floor to multi-millionaire businesswoman – and how you too can make it big.

Dame Floella Benjamin (right) relives her life from the Windrush generation to the House of Lords in What Are You Doing Here? (Macmillan, Jun 23), while Davina McCall is continuing her TV-themed documentary in print with Menopausing, a taboo-busting new guide (HQ, May 26).

Debuts Waterstones is anticipating big sales from include Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman (Vintage, Jan 27). “It’s historical fiction set in Georgian London so it blends that narrative with the Greek myth of Pandora, playing into that trend for mythology retelling,” says Carvalho.

Netflix has already snapped up the rights to romcom Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? By Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Viking, March 31), which sees a 31-year-old British Nigerian, a single Londoner with a career in the City, who suddenly needs to find a plus-one for her cousin’s wedding.

And if you’re looking for new cosy crime, you may want to bag a copy of popular vicar The Rev Richard Coles’ first foray into this genre with his debut novel, Murder Before Evensong (Orion, Jun 9).

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