Best Books of 2022 So Far

Best Books of 2022 So Far

Despite doing a lot of research and keeping up with new and upcoming books, many of the books I read each year are on the backlist. These are novels I picked up in my library, especially on apps like Libby. I don’t always get the latest stuff right away. But the end of June is halfway through the year – so I took a look at my data on StoryGraph to see if this is true for 2022.

And to my surprise, this year, many of my 2022 readings were published in 2022! There are some really great new books to delve into. So here are my three favorite books released in 2022 (so far!).

brown girls by Daphne Palassi Andreas

Brown Girls from Daphne Palasia (Photo: Random House.)
(random house)

If this book sounds familiar, it’s because it was the first feature in the January 2022 issue of Mary Sue Book Club. After putting it off for a while, I’m finally out so I can select four feeds (read an Asian author with a cover worthy of googly eyes) for Cindy Pham’s 2022 Asian Readathon. The novel plays, chapter by chapter, the shared moments of the brown girls and their immigrant families from Queens, New York. Some of these generally include common experiences such as various “first” fractures and highly specific fractures that occur in adulthood. The story follows these brunette girls from childhood to becoming their mothers to an older status.

Other than the beautiful writing, I liked the focus on the names. They all had unique and different experiences, but between seasons, the “who” often changes. In general, if a name is thrown in a particular class, it will be thrown again in the same class unless it is mentioned in an existing manner. These lists came up often and felt meditative and familial for anyone who has a family (existing included) or grew up in places where these names were more common. Names that will never be the “Most Popular Girl Names of the Year” lists.

Being of black Texan descent, and mysterious enough not to stand out and living in a community with these women my whole life, this book felt like I was talking to a friend (but mostly listening).

If an Egyptian can't speak English - Nur Naga.  Photo: Gray Wolf Press.
(Graywolf Press)

This short novel broke me. I read it and said “I don’t know how to deal with my feelings, so let me look at what writer Noor Naga has posted.” This novel turned out to be her debut, so I had to sit with her alone. The story follows two main characters who meet and fall in love. The novel may contain romantic elements, but it is not romance. I want to say that in a case somewhere, someone misclassified it.

One of the characters is an Egyptian-American woman “going back” to a country she’s never known before, disillusioned with her standing in the US (post-2016 elections) and the other, a man from Shabrakhit who is more than that. In a state of great astonishment with the state of Egypt after the end of the Arab Spring. In the first two parts, each chapter begins with a question and then its answer in a long (but very clear) poetic paragraph. Along with the POV alternating between them, we get a glimpse into their dreams, fears, and more.

These chapters are interior ideas, but sometimes they seem to break the fourth wall. Readers are forced to examine their own biases, especially when the story takes a dark turn. The look is often discussed in the context of women and cinema, but this book uses these discussions in literary form in an uncomfortable (but necessary) way. This theme plays up in the choice of cover. The painting is an orientalist drawing by the French painter Jean-Léon Jerome 1872 Bashar warrior.

Almost everything changes in Part Three aka The Last Thirty Pages. I refuse to spoil the third part, but I know that this section, while in a different format, different place and time and characters, will be very attentive to some as well.

Cover of Harley Quinn Eat Bang Kill
(Max Sarin/DC Comics)

Technically, the series started in 2021, but it didn’t end until 2022 and the book cover comes out later this summer. However, this fun ride started and continued as a girls’ one, but it gave both – especially the pragmatic poison ivy – time to breathe and process after the end of season two. I say this even though Commodore Gordon was breathing from their necks the entire range and there was a lot of damage.

In addition to the interesting story, I loved the interaction with the working class and the expressive art style. This was a fun adventure and I will definitely re-read this once the show gets the release date. While I warn you pick it up if you haven’t finished Season 2 of Harley Quinn: The Animated SeriesIf you’re not interested in continuing the show (or want a short mini-series), this can be read as a solo work.

(Featured photo: Jean-Léon Gérôme, now in the public domain)

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