A Book Published This Year: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2022

December 1, 2022 | M. Elwood

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TPL Reading Challenge 2022

Besides loving wonderful stories, reading has always provided a satisfying sense of discovery. I haunt book review websites looking for the next big thing. My To Be Read List has been out of control for at least a decade. I've accepted that there are too many books and too little time but I still get excited when a favourite author releases something new or when an unknown writer surprises the world with a bestseller. 

These are my choices for a book published this year.

Lessons in chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Set in the 1950s-60s, it is the story of Elizabeth Zott–a brilliant chemist who is frustrated that her ideas are not being taken seriously because she's a woman in a male dominated field. The one man who respects her skills is Calvin Evans, a brilliant Nobel shortlisted chemist and star of the chemistry world. As Elizabeth and Calvin bond over their shared passion for chemistry, they fall in love. These great romances don't always end happily, however. A few years later Elizabeth is a single mother and unable to find a job as a chemist. Amazingly she is given an opportunity to host an afternoon cooking show. Elizabeth is a great cook because cooking is chemistry. The network wants a fluffy, girly show to fill the afternoon schedule but Elizabeth has other plans. She uses her show to teach the science of cooking and empowers her viewers to see their potential. This little inconsequential cooking show becomes the starting point of a revolution.

Other categories:

  • A book about family

We were dreamers
We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story by Simu Liu

This one is really intense, heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant. Actor, author and stuntman Simu Liu was born in China. After many challenges in China, his parents were finally able to fulfil their dreams of higher education by moving to North America but had to leave their son behind. When he was 6, Simu was able to join them in Kingston Ontario but had to leave his grandparents and the only home he'd known. As he grew up, Liu developed a passion for the performing arts and became disillusioned with the career path his parents expected.  

Other categories:

  • A book about family
  • A coming of age story by a BIPOC author
  • A book about art

Staff Recommendations

Here are some recommendations from TPL staff for this category.


Babel: Or, The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution by R.F. Kuang

Babel is Kuang's first book since her debut series The Poppy War. Like her first trilogy, Babel is also a historical fantasy shedding light on British Imperialism and the real world consequences experienced by its colonies. Since it is a dark academia book, Babel has generated a lot of commotion in online book communities and for good reason – it addresses the elitism and discrimination in scholarly circles head on. The footnotes are also a blast for academics.

Other categories:

  • A book about magic

— Crystal, Youth Services Librarian

French braid

French Braid by Anne Tyler

This is the latest book from Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler. She is an author whose books I look forward to. French Braid follows one family's foibles, from the 1950s up to our pandemic present.

Other categories:

  • A book about family

— Jo-Ann, Library Assistant

Hotel magnifique

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J Taylor.

A story about a travelling hotel that sweeps into town, alluring people to join its staff. Drawn in by the promise of a new adventure each night, the girls are dying to be hired. Once in, they discover a hidden secret in their contract that means their job isn’t quite as it seems. A retelling with a new twist of the novel The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Other categories:

  • A book about magic
  • A book that is a retelling of another story

— Vyktorya, Librarian

Looking for jane

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

This moving debut novel, set in Toronto, interweaves the lives of several women in crucial times in their lives and is, ultimately, a story about the ways that choice and motherhood intersect. A page-turner in every way and set across decades, readers are captured by the stories of Nancy, Evelyn, and Angela, and are carried through the story until the very last page.

— Emily, Librarian

Run rose run

Run rose run cd

Run Rose Run is a novel with a companion album. The book was written by Dolly Parton and James Patterson. It is about singer/song writer searching for success while trying to escape a troubled past. The singer’s input is evident throughout the book as the spotlight is often on the music industry than on a thriller plot. Although underwhelming, the book does move at a pace that keeps you on an edge, wanting to know what's going to happen next. If you have the audiobook, Dolly Parton’s voice is a treat. Parton calls the companion album "a collection of musical stories about dreamers and their journeys."

Other categories:

  • A book about a city (Nashville, of course)
  • A book you read just because

— Radha, Senior Branch Head

Siren queen

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Set in a fantastical Hollywood, where both magic and monsters are real, Siren Queen is about Luli Wei, an ambitious, queer, Chinese-American girl who dreams of being a movie star. Gaining the leverage to propel herself into Hollywood, Luli puts some conditions on her contract: “No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” At first, the studio doesn’t know what to do with her, but then she’s cast as a monster and her star begins to rise. An atmospheric, enthralling story that asks how much of yourself are you willing to carve out for a shot at immortality?

Other Reading Challenge Categories:

  • A coming-of-age story by a BIPOC author
  • A book about magic

— Chelsea, Librarian

Thank you for listenin

Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

An audiobook about the making of audiobooks written by (and read by) my favourite audiobook performer, YES! Instantly likeable characters and a romance that brews over a shared love of work, my GoodReads review of this book was simply, "nearly perfect." Folks who like Taylor Jenkins Reid or Emily Henry are sure to lust after this romantic comedy. This book can be enjoyed in any format but do yourself a favour and enjoy it in its intended audiobook format. Beware: grinning, lol-ing and blushing are sure to happen if read in public.

Other categories:

  • A book about family
  • A book about mental health
  • A book written under a pen name (character use pen names in their narration work)
  • A book about an issue that is important to you
  • A book that is a retelling of another story (folks narrating other stories)

— Reagan, Librarian

We spread

We Spread by Ian Reid.

Penny, an aging artist who never reached her full potential during her partner's lifetime, is suddenly and unexpectedly moved to a remote nursing home after an accident in her apartment. In the home, she finds love and secrets that culminate in her life's masterpiece in this unsettling, psychological thriller.

— Susan, Public Service Assistant

Young mungo

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Young Mungo is Douglas Stuart's follow-up novel to his Booker-winning Shuggie Bain. It treads similar territory to the first novel, with a coming of age story about a gay young man trapped in a profoundly dysfunctional family set in Thacher-era Scotland, surrounded by toxic masculinity, homophobia, and alcoholism ... and yet Stuart is able to turn around that negative energy with humour, extraordinarily rich language (including some excellently creative swearing), and compassion for his characters into a novel that will wring you out.

Other categories

  • A book about mental health
  • A book about family

— Joel, Librarian

Recommendations from the Facebook Group

These are just some of the suggested titles from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2022 discussion group. You can read all of the responses in the original post. You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions.

French Recommendations

If you like to read in French, check out the list of recommended books for "un livre édité en 2022" - there's a mix of books, eBooks and digital audiobooks to try!

What would you recommend for "a book published this year”? Add your suggestions in the comments section below.