Books to Look Forward To This 2022 - Lifestyle Asia

Time to plan your reading list with these great, illuminating reads

READ ALSO: 2021 Recap: Our Favorite Books Of The Year

School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Already a New York Times Bestseller, School For Good Mothers is set in a Black Mirror-esque society. It iscentered on Frida, who is struggling from the expectations of her Chinese immigrant parents, and in an unhappy marriage with a man who refuses to leave his mistress. The only happiness in Frida’s life is Harriet, her daughter. 

2022 Reads - School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
Available here

Frida considers being a parent her only success until a mistake causes an insidious state-run agency to turn its eyes on her and take her to a panopticon-like institution to judge her fitness for motherhood. Now she must prove that she is and has always been a good mother. A sharp look at the expectations on women, the pressures of parenting, and the systems in place that endanger women and children, Jessamine Chan’s novel is a contemporary classic.

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett

Claire Louise Bennett’s debut novel is as fresh and otherworldly as her short-story collection, Pond. Set in a working-class town out of London, Checkout 19 is the coming-of-age tale about a schoolgirl’s growth, and her keen-eyed observations of everyone and everything around her.

2022 Reads - Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett
Available here on March 1

As a cashier in a grocery store, she befriends a Russian man who gifts her a copy of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. She reads other books and goes through the throes of losing and finding herself in great literature. Her mind is a thrilling landscape, where she meets and creates characters. Advanced praise from Karl Ove Knausgaard calls this a masterful novel, and who are we to disagree?

In The Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

Ferrante is known as the writer of the Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant FriendThe Story of a New NameThose Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. The series is about two friends who grow up in the outskirts of Naples, Italy. Her latest, on the other hand, is an essay collection on her path as a writer. 

2022 Reads - In The Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
Available here on March 15

With her meticulous sense of searing and searching, Ferrante writes about her influences, struggles, and how she was formed as both a reader and writer. Examined are topics like so-called “bad language” and its correlation with excluding different ways of writing, and meditations on the work of Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Ingeborg Bachmann, and more. Like her fiction, her essays are precise and truthful, and a guide for any aspiring writer.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

If there were any one word to describe the writing of Emily St. John Mandel (writer of the greatest pandemic novel of our time, Station Eleven, and The Glass Hotel), it would be virtuosic. The sense of rhythm in her sentences is akin to serotonin spreading in the brain, the patterns of words so smooth and hypnotizing. Sea of Tranquility is no different.

A story of humanity across centuries, the story starts with Edwin St. Andrews who is exiled from society after a mistake. Trying to make his home across the Atlantic, he enters the spellbinding beauty of the Canadian wilderness and hears something that shocks him to his core: the sound of a violin in the middle of the forest. Two centuries later, writer Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour.

2022 Reads - Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Available here on April 5 h

In her novel (about a pandemic) is a section about a man who plays the violin as trees rise around him. Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is a detective in Night City, who is sent to the North American wilderness to investigate strange happenings. Once there, he meets people whose lives are stuck in limbo: an exiled man in the throes of madness, a writer trapped far from home, and a childhood friend who is given the chance to disrupt the current timeline.

What happens next? This alluring, almost impossible-to-describe novel is Mandel at the top of her powers, leaving readers gasping for more.

Letters to Gwen John by Celia Paul

The release of Celia Paul’s memoir (and this article by Rachel Cusk) Self-Portrait saw a new rush of interest for the artist. She had been painting since the 1970s but had been long forgotten in the current art world.

Her latest book, Letters to Gwen John is a series of writings in epistolary form to the Welsh Painter Gwen John (1876-1939). Paul saw similarities of his work and her own. (They both mostly painted women.) She could also relate to him, seeing as they both were overshadowed by men; in John’s case, it was her brother Augustus John and her lover Auguste Rodin while Paul had Lucian Freud. 

2022 Reads - Letters to Gwen John by Celia Paul
Available here on April 26

Can a woman create art on her terms? Despite the demands of life and time on their work, the struggle to protect their sources of creativity, and what happens when the associations of older male artists affect perception of their art, both Gwen John and Celia Paul survived. They managed to both find and make art in the turbulence of life.

Either/Or by Elif Batuman

It’s 1996 in Harvard University and Selin, the protagonist of Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, is back, with her signature wry, dry sense of humor and observation. Things for Selin to ponder: what exactly was she doing in Hungary that summer? Why did Ivan, her crush, find her that weird job? Why did she meet all those people? Why is Ivan’s ex-girlfriend trying to find her?

If none of these questions make sense to whoever is reading this article, it means you probably didn’t read The Idiot, which I very much recommend you do, while waiting for the sequel (available here).

2022 Reads - Either/Or by Elif Batuman
Available here on May 24

Despite all these questions, Selin knows her life feels like the plot of a novel. Does this mean she now has to become a “crazy, abandoned woman” to make the novel of her life interesting? Batuman’s hilarious and unforgettable narrative will have you laughing and reaching deep in yourself; questioning things that like Selin, you thought you had the answers to.

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley, New York Times bestselling author of essay collections I Was Told There’d Be CakeHow’d You Get This Number, and Look Alive Out There, is back with her second fiction book (her first, The Clasp, was also a national bestseller)

Lola starts her night at a reunion dinner in Chinatown, and as she buys cigarettes, she runs into a former boyfriend. A whole host of them, in fact. Suddenly, New York is awash with the ghosts of previous heartbreaks. In the middle of all of this, her current relationship is struggling, and the people in her life are too invested in the outcome. The past and present combine in both comic and eerie ways, while Lola has to decide on the future of her life, loves and relationships. 

2022 Reads - Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley
Available here on June 7

Cult Classic is, well, classic (sorry) Sloane Crosley: very funny and full of twists and turns. This highly crafted, surreal discursion of love in our very petrified modern era is both a page-turner and a reflection on what it takes to survive in a lonely city. 

 Lapvona by Otessa Moshfegh

There was a viral tweet that said something along the lines of: “The best kind of books are of crazy women doing things” and Otessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation was the book that managed to encapsulate that entire mood. In Lapvona, Moshfegh is back with her signature eccentricity, except this time it’s set in a medieval village.

2022 Reads -  Lapvona by Otessa Moshfegh
Available here on June 21

Little Marek is the unwanted son of the village shepherd. His only good relationship is with the blind midwife Ina, who suckled him when he was a baby. Ina also possesses the ability to speak with the natural world, giving her sacred knowledge beyond what is available within the village borders. This makes her home a godless place. 

In the village lives Father Barnabas, town priest and whipping post of the depraved governor Villam. The latter lives in a hilltop manor that is chock to the brim full of riches, despite the town trying to survive in a time of drought and famine. Soon, an event brings down the order in the town, and occult forces wreck their way, ruining lives in the process. 

Cover Image by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

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