All products on this page have been selected by the editorial team, however Stylist may make commission on some products purchased through affiliate links in this article
The breakout books you’ll be reading next year from fiction’s biggest and newest names.
Welcome to the biggest fiction for 2022. It is a jam-packed year of big-name writers, breakout authors and debuts jostling for your ‘to be read’ lists. Leading the way is Hanya Yanagihara’s highly ambitious and anticipated To Paradise which follows up her iconic A Little Life. There are also new books from much-loved authors, including Candice Carty-Williams with People Person, Monica Ali, Nina Stibbe, Marian Keyes and Lucy Foley. Other books that everyone will be talking about include the entertaining and uplifting Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, the heartbreaking Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, the addictive Moonlight And The Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook and the groundbreaking Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley.
Thrillers, coming-of-age stories, comedies, romance and historical fiction – 2022 has it all. There are books that tackle the things that are affecting us right now (career burnout in Careering and arguments over vaccination in The Herd) plus gothic and horror novels that’ll leave you unnerved and uncertain at 4am. There are also some really funny reads that will transport and uplift you – which we’re very in favour of – so start pre-ordering now. These are the 40 books you’ll want to read this year.
To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
It’s coming… one of the most anticipated books of 2022 – if not the decade – is Hanya Yanagihara’s follow-up to her blockbuster A Little Life. At 701 pages, it’s a sweeping, ambitious novel that starts out as speculative fiction in the drawing rooms of old New York, evoking the worlds of Edith Wharton and Henry James, and ends in a bleak 2093. Prepare to weep in public and be utterly transformed (out 11 January).
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
Black Cake starts off in a lawyer’s office as two estranged siblings, Byron and Benny, come together for the reading of their mother’s will only to discover an audio recording that will upend their lives… and a recipe for legendary Caribbean cake. You can’t help but fall in love with this book (out 3 February).
Idol by Louise O’Neill
How much is it possible to love Louise O’Neill? A brilliant writer who’s never afraid of going to darker places, Idol takes on influencer culture as the boundary-pushing and celebrated Samantha writes about her sexual awakening only for her former friend Lisa to call out her “truth” (out 12 May).
Thirty Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani
A fresh and joyful take on the romcom that’s essential reading to kick off 2022, Nina Mistry spends her 30th birthday in a prison cell with only a self-help book for company, sparking what will become the story of one woman’s chance to find love – with herself (out 20th January).
Moonlight And The Pearler's Daughter by Lizzie Pook
Love immersive storytelling, a rollicking mystery and a take-no-prisoners heroine? Of course you do. Moonlight And The Pearler’s Daughter is the story that will send you into the stultifying heat of 19th century Western Australia, full of bad people doing terrible things in the name of colonisation, and one smart woman, Eliza, unravelling it all. It’s set to be everywhere this year (out 3 March).
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
“A year never passes without me thinking of them. India. Erica. Their names are stitched inside every white coat I have ever worn. I tell this story to stitch their names inside your clothes, too.” From this devastating (and soon-to-be classic) opening line comes a story that’s based on real-life events exploring the horrifying link between racism and medical ethics. Also shot through with spirit and hope, it’s one hell of a book (out 12 May).
The Maid by Nita Prose
Soon to be starring the perfectly cast Florence Pugh, The Maid is an instantly gripping and delightful whodunnit featuring Molly the maid who gets caught up in the killing of a high-profile guest in the hotel where she works (out 20 January).
Our Wives Under The Sea by Julia Armfield
The debut novel from the critically acclaimed author of Salt Slow, Our Wives Under The Sea is gaining traction with preview readers who are describing it as utterly magnetic and creepy. Leah returns to her wife after a deep-sea mission goes wrong but things have changed forever… (out 3 March).
Wahala by Nikki May
Ronke, Simi and Boo are three Nigerian-British friends who’ve known each other since childhood, but the arrival of interloper Isobel throws their lives into disarray. Full of food, humour and pitch-perfect observation, it’s currently under adaptation by Rocks writer Theresa Ikoko (out 6 January).
Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes
She’s back. The heroine from Keyes’ breakout book, Rachel’s Holiday (which was one of the first bits of culture to place misbehaving women centre stage), returns in this new novel exploring how life is always ready to throw you a new curveball. Keyes’ writing is just a total treat: funny, insightful and wise and we’re on countdown for this (out 17 February).
Five Days Missing by Caroline Corcoran
A tense feminist thriller that underlines the power of support networks: Romilly goes missing hours after giving birth, leaving her loving husband Marc and her family desperately trying to track her down. Upending conventional tropes of the genre, this is the thinking mystery you’ve been waiting for (out 17 February).
Send Nudes by Saba Sams
In 10 quickfire stories, Brighton-born Saba Sams conjures up the spaces between lovers, the visceral attraction and the damning rejection. Read in one sitting and you’ll be transported to moments in your past, to scenes you instantly recognise but may have deliberately forgotten; a must-read for 2022 (out 20 January).
Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
This is going to be one of the big books of 2022. Written when Mottley was just 17, this is a story that’s based on a true-life case and explores the world of Kiara – a Black teenager who enters the world of sex work before taking the stand in a shocking trial (out 24 May).
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Turn off your phone and settle in. The new Lucy Foley applies her winning formula to an old apartment block in Paris as a locked door reveals a terrible crime and a new batch of unloveable characters all fall under suspicion (out 3 March).
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
The follow-up to Hallett’s breakout success The Appeal, The Twyford Code is another delightful mystery filled with carefully plotted details as Steven Smith attempts to crack the meaning behind a children’s book written by a disgraced author (out 13 January).
Notes On An Execution by Danya Kukafka
A killer on death row but this is not his story. It’s the narratives of three women affected by his actions: his mother, Lavender; his ex-wife’s sister, Hazel; and the female detective, Saffy, who tracked him down. Exploring the effects of violence by men and the worlds that are ruined, this is a breakout book for 2022 (out 3 February).
A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon
From the award-winning author of The Trouble With Goats And Sheep comes an entertaining and dark story of a bored housewife who begins to question the world around her only to stumble into the unexpected (out 28 April).
None Of This Is Serious by Catherine Prasifka
A book about friends leaving behind their days as students in Dublin is bound to attract Normal People comparisons but Prasifka’s story is a beautifully written original take on how we’re all guilty of taking refuge online as the world around us becomes increasingly confusing (out 7 April).
The Secret Lives Of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
Picked up for an HBO Max TV series produced by Tessa Thompson, this is a brilliant collection of stories about Black women searching for freedom and letting their desires take centre stage (out 5 May).
Reputation by Sarah Vaughan
With her timely first book, Anatomy Of A Scandal, due for a Netflix adaptation in spring, Vaughan’s stock could not be higher and she’s on ripping form with Reputation, a thriller that delves into the dark side of one female MP’s life and family (out 3 March).
Sundial by Catriona Ward
From the author of The Last House On Needless Street, Sundial is a creepy, disturbing and twisted tale of mothers and daughters and well-hidden family secrets. If you love toe-clenching horror, you will have the time of your life. Order now (out 10 March).
One Day I Shall Astonish The World by Nina Stibbe
For beautifully funny and well-observed comic writing, Nina Stibbe is your go-to author. In her latest release, a tale of lifelong friendship between Susan and Norma, she explores the mistakes, rivalries and love we all experience in life (out 21 April).
Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Recommended for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, this is a transporting read as Elizabeth Zott – chemist, cook, single mother and life changer – powers her way through a 60s US society that’s none too happy about women finding their voice (out 5 April).
Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu
Achike is an actor who finds himself in a good place as things are beginning to come together with his father, his work and his closest friend, Ekene. And then the story takes an unexpected turn… Nzelu’s debut book, The Private Joys Of Nnenna Maloney, won a Betty Trask Award and his second book will be one to watch this year (out 10 March).
Mona by Pola Oloixarac (translated by Adam Morris)
Arriving covered in plaudits, Mona is a novella by Buenos Aires-born Oloixarac, who weaves together the story of writer and lecturer Mona, who’s heading to a small town in Sweden for a literary festival – knocking back pills and trying to avoid facing up to the truth behind an act of violence (out 3 February).
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
Two siblings – Olga, a wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers, and her brother Prieto, a rising congressman with the support of the Latinx community – come face to face with the truth about their lives as their mother Blanca returns (out 6 January).
Hope And Glory by Jendella Benson
Set to be everywhere in 2022, Benson’s debut is about Glory, who returns from LA to Peckham after the death of her father only to discover her family is falling apart and resentful but examining her past uncovers unexpected surprises… (out 7 April).
Maps Of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer
Lyrical and beautiful, this is a novel unlike anything else, telling the story of a dying mother but in a totally unexpected way. Described by author Sarah Moss as “playful and profound”, keep an eye out for this on the prize shortlists (out 31 March).
bitter by akwaeke emezi
A companion book to Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, this YA novel centres on Bitter, who’s come through foster care and landed a spot at Eucalyptus – a school for creative teenagers. Safe inside, there are major events unfolding in the world outside that begin to pull on Bitter and her friends (out 15 February).
The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang
An addictive read, The Family Chao starts with the discovery of a restaurant owner frozen to death in his own meat freezer and spirals into a tale of corruption and racism inspired by The Brothers Karamazov (out 3 February).
Welcome To Your Life by Bethany Rutter
A fun and life-affirming story told with verve, Welcome To Your Life is author Rutter’s adult debut and features Serena Mills, who walks out on her wedding to find a love and life she truly deserves (out 31 March).
A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe
Full of emotion, this is the story of William Lavery – his childhood, his work and how his efforts in the wake of the Aberfan tragedy in 1966 affected his life. A debut book that’ll stay with you for a long, long time (out 20 January).
At Certain Points We Touch by Lauren John Joseph
Described as “a stone-cold masterpiece – The Line Of Beauty retooled for the 21st century” by writer Olivia Laing, this is the story of a destructive love affair played out over years and cities that’s going to be an essential read (out 3 March).
The Raptures by Jan Carson
From acclaimed writer Jan Carson, one young girl in the town of Ballylack is looking forward to summer when her classmates start succumbing to a mysterious disease and the community begins to crack (out 6 January).
The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy
This psychological thriller explores institutional racism as Michelle Cameron is released from prison, trying to leave behind a horrific crime in childhood. As Michelle becomes a suspect following another murder, it falls to Detective Constable Natalie Tyler to questioning everything around her (out 20 January).
Little Wing by Freya North
Inspired by the author’s own restorative experience of the Outer Hebrides, North’s story examines what happens when one pregnant teenage girl is sent to the remote island of Harris and how redemption can still find a way (21 January).
The Herd by Emily Edwards
With echoes of The Slap, this book tackles the most emotive and divisive issues of our time: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate as two friends find themselves at the heart of the issue after one little white lie (out 3 February).
Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades
Set in Queens, this is the transporting and energising story of a group of girls – Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish and Angelique – growing into women. By debut author Daphne Palasi Andreades, it’s not to be missed (out 3 February).
Careering by Daisy Buchanan
We are so ready for this book. Exploring the exhausting push-pull of trying to pin down a career you love but that doesn’t love you back, Buchanan’s book is set to capture the zeitgeist as so many of us question we’re where at (out 10 March).
Love Marriage by Monica Ali
As Yasmin Ghorami approaches her wedding to fellow doctor Joe Sangster, things begin to unravel as their two families cross paths and ideals. Monica Ali is one of Britain’s most cherished and delightful writers so get this pre-ordered now (out 3 February).
Images: courtesy of publishers
Francesca Brown is books editor for Stylist magazine and Stylist Loves; she also compiles the Style List on a weekly basis. She is a self-confessed HBO abuser and has a wide selection of grey sweatshirts. Honestly, you just can’t have enough. @franabouttown