As the winter holidays and New Year roll in, people often have more time and motivation to read. It’s a wonderful way to spend downtime: relaxing, yet educational and purposeful at the same time. In case you find yourself with reader’s block, we’ve put together a list of six reads from different genres for you to kickstart your 2022 reading list. Pick and choose based on genres, storylines or authors, and enjoy!
Being the Change: Live Well and Start a Climate Revolution, by Peter Kalmus
Climate scientist and father of two Kalmus, like so many of us, was concerned about the climate crisis. He embarked on a journey to change his lifestyle and shifted so much that he cut his ecological footprint to under 10% of the US average — and he became happier along the way. This book combines a scientific approach with practical action and a touch of belief and spirituality, in order to guide readers along a path toward individual action that addresses our global crisis.
The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
We all know that trees are beautiful, and important to our survival on this planet, but very few know about the complex relationships between trees, as well as the developed behaviors they demonstrate on a day-to-day basis. In The Hidden Life of Trees, Wohlleben takes readers on a journey through the forest by sharing the biological processes behind tree growth and tree survival, as well as revealing the invisible processes that are not often considered. He demonstrates the extensive communication systems between trees, describes the parent-child relationships that allow trees to grow tall and survive for longer, and highlights how healthy forests are the happiest forests. This book emphasizes the importance of trees to the reader and contains knowledge that should be carried forward into a new year of eco-friendly living.
Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
While this book is quite different from Gyasi’s acclaimed debut novel Homegoing, it is worth the read. The book flips back and forth between the childhood and present life of Gifty, a child of Ghanaian immigrants who grew up in Alabama. Gifty is a neuroscientist, researching the same pathways of the brain that caused her brother to die of a heroin overdose in high school. She is also struggling to care for her clinically depressed mother, and the novel explores the roots of both of these mental health conditions in the two characters that have them. It also explores Gifty’s trauma, growth, and healing, both in childhood and the present, creating a very personal novel that likely has at least one aspect all readers can relate to. Gyasi’s writing is once again astounding, with melodic and poetic language that keeps you wanting more as she continues to paint the picture of Gifty, her life, and her family history. It is a very emotional read, perfect some time during the holidays.
The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste
Unknown to many people, the conflict between Italy and Ethiopia just prior to World War II is explored in this novel through the eyes of Hirut, an orphan living with and working for a childhood friend of her mother’s. As the Italian forces enter Ethiopia, Hirut and the rest of her household flee to the mountains, becoming supporters to the resistance army that is quickly forming. As the conflict continues, Hirut is raised to a higher role: a guard of the Shadow King, the man pretending to be Emperor Haile Selassie in his absence from the country. She eventually crosses paths with Ettore Navarro, an Italian-Jewish photographer living in the mystery of his father’s past. Their interactions highlight the different oppressions and violences occurring throughout the world at the time, and the book as a whole sheds light on a very little-known conflict. It is a testament to the strength and purpose of women, and is both a harrowing war novel and a personal story that can speak to readers on many levels. A great read for both educational and enlightening purposes, The Shadow King is a great read for this holiday season.
Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse
Published in 2020, this epic first installment of Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky trilogy brings readers to the fantastical world of the Meridian Continent, based on Indigenous South American mythologies. The story follows three main characters: Xiala, a ship captain exiled from her homeland; Serapio, a young man with a mission to accomplish for his deceased mother; and Naranpa, a woman who rose from poverty to become the chief priest of her city and is struggling for acceptance. With their different histories and goals, the book takes readers across the continent through the eyes of these characters as the people of the Continent await the winter solstice and accompanying solar eclipse, in which all three main characters are invested. It’s an exciting and dramatic tale, told through Roanhorse’s beautiful writing, and with the second installment of the trilogy arriving in April of 2022, it should definitely make its way onto your bookshelf in the new year.
This Is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Clocking in at approximately 200 pages, This Is How You Lose The Time War is an excellent afternoon read that grabs you from the beginning and keeps you hooked until the end. Following two characters, Red and Blue, who are fighting for opposite sides in the Time War, the novel is written in the form of letters between the two characters as they traverse the strands of time. Going both backwards and forwards, their goal is to cause events in both the past and the future that secure control of the present for their side of the war. As their correspondence becomes regular, the two begin to develop feelings for each other, creating a Romeo and Juliet-type romance in a complex science-fiction setting. The writing is beautifully descriptive and illustrates the scenes placed throughout time with excellent visuals, dropping you right in the middle of the intensity. The relationship between Red and Blue is expressed thoroughly through the words on the page and keeps the reader heavily invested. If you decide to add this to your collection, make sure to set aside a few hours to read it, because it simply cannot be put down.