CULLMAN, Ala. – Well, here we are, we have made it to the conclusion of 2021 and as we’re introduced to 2022, we might as well crack open a new book or two. I know somebody’s New Year’s resolution had to be to read more. So, without any further ado, I give you She Reads’ 2022 Recommended Reading List.
We are starting off with “Fiona and Jane” by Jean Chen Ho, which will be available January 4, 2022. This novel was recommended by fortune.com and is set across Los Angeles, Taiwan and New York. In these many places, Jean Chen Ho’s debut novel explores a friendship between two Taiwanese American women as they break apart in their twenties and find their way back to each other 10 years later.
Their story is told alternately from each woman’s point of view, and while an intimate portrait of friendship, “Fiona and Jane” also tackles themes around sexuality, social class, immigration, family secrets, mental health and Asian American identity.
Also recommended by fortune.com, “After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War” by Helen Rappaport will be available on March8, 2022.
I know there is a bit of a wait on this one, dear readers but hear me out. There is no shortage of books about the last royal family of Russia, and while many modern historical works still focus on the murders of the last Tzar and his family, “After the Romanovs” focuses on extended family members and courtiers who managed to escape—specifically to Paris, where some finished out their aristocratic lifestyle and others rebuilt their lives from the ground up.
Next on our list is “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tart. This captivating tale follows a disgruntled teen displaced after a terrible accident kills his mother. He’s forced to take up residence in a wealthy family friend’s park avenue home. What ensues is a head-turning tale that you’ll have trouble putting down. This novel’s mesmerizing writing and unique storyline secure it safely in a top spot on our reading list.
“The Gift of Forgiveness” by Katherine Pratt is a special book on the list, as it is meant for readers who might be looking for self-improvement. I am the last person to claim perfection in any room, and so I wanted to include this as it shares real-life stories of learning to forgive the seemingly unforgivable. It is raw and the brave approach to writing will offer hope for the future, and how readers may improve their interpersonal relationships.
“We are the Brennans” by Tracey Lange is recommended by booklistqueen.com and tells the story of Sunday Brennan who, after a car accident, returns to her large Irish family in New York. Five years earlier, she had abandoned them and her high school sweetheart with no explanation. Determined to rebuild her relationships, Sunday is startled when a man threatens the family’s business and forces the family to confront painful mistakes. Delving into the ways guilt and shame can affect our interactions, “We Are the Brennans” is one of the best depictions of “coming home” I have come across.
Next up, “Once There Were Wolves”by Charlotte McConaghy is one of my most recommended books to read this year by far. This hauntingly beautiful novel about healing from trauma–in people and in nature–will hook you from the beginning.
Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with one purpose – to reintroduce gray wolves into the highlands despite the fierce resistance from the local population. When a farmer is mauled to death, Inti buries the evidence, terrified the locals will accuse her beloved wolves. But if the wolves aren’t to blame, who caused his death? And will it happen again?
A bitterly sweet heartwarming tale, “The Guncle” by Stephen Rowley describes the lives of Maisie and Grant who lose their mother in a tragedy while their father is unable to care for them, leaving only their father’s brother Guncle Patrick.
Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled acting career and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a 6 and a 9-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting–even if temporary–isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.
“The Guncle”is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience and family in even the most trying of times.
“Midnight at the Blackbird Café” by Heather Webber was initially going to be at the top of the list but I got this idea with saving the best for last and here we are. This book absolutely had to make it onto the Recommended Reading list for The Cullman Tribune readers, as it tells a story nestled into the mountain shadows of Alabama.
Here lies the little town of Wicklow, and it is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.
While originally planned to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.
As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly, or if she’s found her way home all along.
These books are sure to keep us all busy throughout the beginning of the new year as we face new challenges, new goals and new accomplishments. Don’t forget to take a moment to breathe every now and again, a book can take you just about anywhere. As always, enjoy.
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