34 Best Books Of January 2022, From Memoir To Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

2022 is finally here! Yes, somehow, time is still marching on. Thankfully, the new year is bringing a plethora of fantastic new books with it, which should help you start your year off on the right foot. Among the books readers can look forward to in January 2022 are new titles from beloved authors Isabel Allende, Gish Jen, Seanan McGuire, and more, as well as plenty of reads from up-and-coming stars.

This month has something special for everyone, but genre fiction lovers will be particularly pleased. In addition to sequels from fan-favorite writers — including J. Elle’s Ashes of Gold, Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch, and Seanan McGuire’s Where the Drowned Girls Go — speculative fiction fans can look forward to some exciting debut novels. Of particular note: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman, an Indian-inspired epic fantasy about four estranged siblings searching for the same magical artifact; Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, a story about a young woman’s fantastical quest to save her mother, inspired by the Chinese legend of Chang’e; and The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder, a “Sleeping Beauty” retelling about a cynical treasure hunter, a rough-around-the-edges warrior, and the cursed prince waiting for true love’s kiss.

Of course, no one should sleep on the fantastic literary fiction coming out in January, either. A Little Life author Hanya Yanagihara returns to stores this month with To Paradise: a sweeping, speculative novel about American life across three centuries. There’s also Gish Jen’s new story collection, Thank You, Mr. Nixon, which examines the nature of U.S.-China relations from the mid-20th century to the present. Finally, literary horror readers would do well to check out Devil House by John Darnielle (the frontman of The Mountain Goats), a novel about a crime writer who moves into a home with connections to the Satanic Panic.

Below, the most anticipated books of January 2022.

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1

Bibliolepsy

Jan. 4

From the author of The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata comes Bibliolepsy, a slim novel about a young book lover who pursues romantic relationships with authors — all against the backdrop of the dictatorial Marcos regime and its downfall.

2

Brown Girls

Jan. 4

Daphne Palasi Andreades’ debut novel centers on a group of first-generation American girls living in Queens, following them from age 10 through college. The girls narrate their story collectively, exposing their hopes, dreams, crushes, loves, failures, and fights along the way.

3

Let’s Get Physical

Jan. 4

In Let’s Get Physical, journalist Danielle Friedman traces the history of women’s exercise in America, shining a light on many of the forgotten innovators who helped bring various fads to the masses.

4

One True Loves

Jan. 4

From the author of Happily Ever Afters comes One True Loves, a story about Lenore, a young artist spending her last summer before college on a Mediterranean cruise. There, she meets Alex, a boy her age who has the next 10 years of his life figured out. To the freewheeling Lenore, Alex’s certainty is boring at best, and frustrating at worst. But the more time they spend together, the more she begins to wonder if maybe there’s room in her life for him.

5

The School for Good Mothers

Jan. 4

When the government discovers that Frida Liu left her 18-month-old daughter alone while running a quick errand, she quickly finds her life turned upside down. Now, Liu’s daughter is living with her ex and his mistress, and she’s stuck in a dystopian re-education program that trains unfit mothers in self-sacrifice.

6

Fiona and Jane

Jan. 4

Jean Chen Ho’s Fiona and Jane follows the eponymous Taiwanese American duo over the course of 20 years. After growing up together in California, the two best friends are separated when Fiona lights out for New York — a move that leaves Jane to deal with her father’s untimely death without her BFF by her side.

7

The Kindred

Jan. 4

The young Duke Felix and his Kindred, a commoner named Joy, have never met. But thanks to their Kindred bond, which has forced them to share their thoughts and feelings with one another from infancy, the socially mismatched pair have fallen in love. When the duke’s family is wiped out in an assassination attempt, all eyes are on him and Joy. To fully unravel the plot against them, the duo steal a ship and travel to a rather unlikely hiding place — Earth.

8

Luckenbooth

Jan. 4

In this inventive, experimental novel, Jenni Fagan traces a century in one Edinburgh tenement building and the lives of its occupants. When an unholy union forms between a childless government minister, his wife, and their fertile young maid — who happens to be the Devil’s own daughter — the building they live in is cursed for decades, affecting residents for generations.

9

Olga Dies Dreaming

Jan. 4

A pair of Nuyorican siblings — one a wedding planner to the stars, the other a congressman — are forced to reckon with their family history when their estranged mother suddenly arrives in the city, just as Hurricane Maria begins to devastate Puerto Rico.

10

You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

Jan. 4

Featuring an introduction from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., You Don’t Know Us Negroes is the first comprehensive collection of nonfiction from Their Eyes Were Watching God author Zora Neale Hurston.

11

When You Get the Chance

Jan. 4

In this new comedy from You Have a Match author Emma Lord, an ebullient teen accidentally snoops on her single dad’s old blog — and gets inspired to look for her estranged mother. She narrows her search down to three candidates, all of whom are living some variation of her Broadway dreams. But if she’s going to figure out which one is her birth mom, she has a lot of bonding to do.

12

Where the Drowned Girls Go

Jan. 4

The latest entry in Seanan McGuire’s portal-fantasy series is Where the Drowned Girls Go. The novel follows Cora, a student from Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children who is so desperate to forget her life as a mermaid in the Trenches that she transfers to a different school — one where students are told that their doors are only figments of their imaginations.

13

The Ivory Key

Jan. 4

The first installment in a new duology, Akshaya Raman’s The Ivory Key follows four estranged siblings — the newly minted queen, her sister, and their two brothers — on the hunt for the eponymous artifact. Legend says the Ivory Key will refill Ashoka’s critical magic stores, but that’s not the only reason why they’re so desperate to find it.

14

Ashes of Gold

Jan. 11

In Ashes of Gold, J. Elle continues the story begun in Wings of Ebony. The half-god, half-human heroine of the first novel returns, still feeling out of place in her father’s community of deities. Does Rue’s human heritage disqualify her from leading the charge to recover the gods’ stolen magic? And whom can she really trust, when everyone around her seems to have an ulterior motive?

15

A More Perfect Union

Jan. 11

Based on the real-life love story of author Tammye Huf’s great-great-grandparents, A More Perfect Union centers on Sarah and Henry: an enslaved Black woman living on a Virginia plantation in the antebellum South, and the Irish immigrant blacksmith hired to work on the property.

16

Wahala

Jan. 11

Adult best friends Ronke, Simi, and Boo find their closeness tested when their mutual friendship with a fourth woman, Isobel, reveals the original trio’s jealousies and insecurities.

17

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Jan. 11

After Xingyin’s mother offended the Celestial Emperor, she was banished to the moon — and Xingyin grew up in exile, hidden from the rest of the world. But when the girl’s magic reveals her existence to the Celestial Emperor, she must flee the only home she has ever known to take refuge in the Celestial Kingdom. There, she finds a chance to learn archery and magic alongside Prince Liwei, but will she be discovered before she can avenge her mother’s wrongful imprisonment?

18

The Bone Spindle

Jan. 11

In this gender-bent “Sleeping Beauty” retelling, treasure hunter Fi accidentally pricks her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and finds herself haunted by the spirit of a cursed prince. Briar Rose has been sleeping for a century, and Fi is supposedly the woman destined to awaken him. But how can the muscular axewoman expect to keep her eyes on the prize when Red, an alluring witch, keeps dropping in at just the right moment?

19

A Flicker in the Dark

Jan. 11

Twenty years after her father was convicted of murdering six teenage girls in her Louisiana hometown, Chloe has moved on: She’s now a successful psychologist, planning the wedding of her dreams. But when another batch of teens starts to disappear, Chloe begins to suspect that her father may have been wrongfully convicted.

20

To Paradise

Jan. 11

From A Little Life author Hanya Yanagihara comes To Paradise, a sweeping epic that follows three characters living in three consecutive centuries. In an alternate version of 1893 New York, a socialite finds himself torn between his arranged marriage to a wealthy young man and his passionate love affair with a poor music teacher. A century later, a Hawaiian man living in the city with a well-off, older man holds onto a series of heartbreaking secrets as the AIDS crisis reaches its breaking point. Finally, in 2093, a woman wrestling with her grandfather’s legacy and her husband’s secretive nature finds herself drawn to the story of a young gay man living in New York at the turn of the 19th century.

21

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?

Jan. 18

In this funny and heartfelt novel, an Oxford-educated British Nigerian careerwoman takes a practical approach to finding love. Yinka’s satisfied with her life, even if her friends and aunties can’t believe it. But when she finds herself single ahead of her cousin’s upcoming nuptials, Yinka decides to systematically track down a perfect date.

22

Servant Mage

Jan. 18

Court of Fives author Kate Elliott kicks off 2022 with a novella filled with magic and intrigue. In Servant Mage, a poor fire mage is hired by a group of rebels who need to infiltrate a mine system — and soon finds herself caught up in an assassination plot that would put a permanent stop to the rebellion.

23

Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School

Jan. 18

Kendra James publishes her debut memoir this month. In Admissions, James reexamines both her time at the Taft School and her work as an admissions officer encouraging other young people of color to apply to prep schools.

24

How High We Go in the Dark

Jan. 18

When an archaeologist accidentally unleashes a deadly virus from beneath the permafrost, subsequent generations must find a way to survive, and even thrive, in the wake of the Arctic Plague.

25

Akata Woman

Jan. 18

The heroine of Akata Witch and Akata Warrior returns this month in Akata Woman. Nnedi Okorafor’s YA fantasy novel centers on Sunny, a Nigerian American girl who happens to be a Leopard Person — someone born with magical abilities. In her third adventure, 15-year-old Sunny and her friends must track down a legendary scroll that her ancestors stole from the Great Spider Artist, Udide… or face grim consequences.

26

Joan Is Okay

Jan. 18

Chemistry author Weike Wang’s latest novel is Joan Is Okay. Here, a 30-something Chinese American doctor and her equally successful brother have their lives turned upside down when their mother unexpectedly returns to the United States in the wake of their father’s death.

27

Violeta

Jan. 25

A 100-year-old woman tells her life story to her grandson in Isabel Allende’s new novel. Born during the 1918 flu pandemic, Violeta del Valle spends her earliest years living in quarantine with her parents and brothers. But when she finds her father’s body after his death by suicide, Violeta’s small, carefully constructed world opens up onto the chaos of the early 20th century.

28

The Good Wife of Bath

Jan. 25

In the late 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer made a bawdy joke in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” Now, Karen Brooks gives the character a new voice in The Good Wife of Bath. Beginning in 1364, Brooks’ novel follows Eleanor, a strong-willed 12-year-old married off to a kind farmer, who climbs the ranks to become a socialite and a friend to Chaucer himself.

29

Devil House

Jan. 25

From the author of Wolf in White Van and Universal Harvester comes Devil House, a new horror novel about a true-crime writer living the eponymous California home, where teens are said to have murdered two people at the height of the Satanic Panic. But as Gage begins to investigate the story of the Devil House, he faces hard questions about himself, his identity, and his career.

30

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding

Jan. 25

The couples on Instant I Do win $100,000 if they can convince their friends and families they’re head-over-heels in love… and getting married in six weeks. D’Vaughn and Kris are up to the challenge, but will their fake wedding bells turn to real ones?

31

The Red Palace

Jan. 25

Set in 18th-century Joseon (now the Korean peninsula), The Red Palace follows Hyeon, an 18-year-old nurse who was born out of wedlock. When her mentor becomes the prime suspect in a quadruple murder, Hyeon finds herself suddenly willing to step into the spotlight and clear her friend’s name.

32

Thank You, Mr. Nixon

Jan. 25

From the author of The Resisters comes this new short fiction collection about the oft-fraught relationship between the United States and China. In Thank You, Mr. Nixon, Gish Jen explores international politics through the voices of the Chinese diaspora.

33

The Roughest Draft

Jan. 25

After their careers hit the skids, a co-writing duo must reunite to pen another book — even if it’s the last thing they want to do. Making up for three years of bad blood and silence is easier said than done, but who ever said writing a book was supposed to be easy?

34

The Fields

Jan. 25

Erin Young’s debut centers on Riley Fisher, a newly minted chief investigator, as she works a murder case involving an Iowa family-farming operation — and a major beef with Big Agriculture.