The Best Holiday Reads For 2022

Looking for something new to read in the sunshine? From novels about fresh starts to the return of a 90s icon, here are 19 recent releases generating serious buzz.
By Heather Steele /

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Berlin by Bea Setton

When Daphne Ferber arrives in Berlin for a fresh start in a thrilling new city, the last thing she expects is to run into more drama than she left behind. Of course, she knew she'd need to do the usual: make friends, find lovers, grapple with German and a whole new way of life. She even expected the long nights gorging alone on family-sized jars of Nutella and the pitfalls of online dating in another language. The paranoia, the second-guessing of her every choice, the covert behaviours? They probably come with the territory too. But one night, something strange, dangerous and entirely unexpected intervenes, and life in hip Kreuzberg suddenly doesn't seem so cool. Just how much trouble is Daphne in, and who – or what – is out to get her?

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Milk Teeth by Jessica Andrews

A girl grows up in the north-east of England amid scarcity and a toxic culture of bodily shame, certain that she must make herself ever smaller to be loved. Years later, living in tiny, rented rooms and working in noisy bars across London and Paris, she fights to create her own life. She meets someone who cracks her open and offers her a new way to experience the world. But when he invites her to join him in Barcelona, the promise of pleasure and care makes her uneasy. In the heat of the Mediterranean, she faces the possibility of a different existence, and must choose what to hold on to from her past. Milk Teeth examines what it means to allow ourselves to live.


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This Is Gonna End In Tears by Liza Klaussmann

Growing up, it was always the three of them: Miller and Olly and Ash. They stuck together like they were keeping a secret; they were successful, best friends, lovers. It was perfect until it fell apart. Now Miller and Ash are married and living in Wonderland, the tidal island of sugary coloured houses they ran away from. Miller feels like she's disappearing. Ash is having an affair with a helmet-haired TV presenter. Olly lives a charmed life in LA but it's on the precipice of disaster. Over the long, hot summer of 1984, unanswered questions draw the three of them back together – and they are so consumed with the possibility of a redemptive third act, they don't notice what's going on between Miller's son, his best friend and the girl who lives next door…


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Vladimir by Julia May Jonas

The book to be seen with this summer, Vladimir follows a popular English professor, whose husband – a charismatic professor at the same small liberal arts college in the US – is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extramarital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when the unnamed narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their world comes dangerously close to exploding.


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Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

This is a great book to get stuck into ahead of its TV adaptation later this year. Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth would be the first to point out there is no such thing. But it's the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. A few years later, Elizabeth finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America's most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth's unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon of acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. As her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth isn't just teaching women to cook. She's daring them to change the status quo.


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This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Emma Straub is the New York Times-bestselling author of four novels: All Adults Here, The Vacationers, Modern Lovers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. With her celebrated humour, insight and heart, her fifth novel is a twist on traditional time travel tropes and a different kind of love story. On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly as she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning, she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?


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The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn

Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriable young woman, there is no place at all for her in a traditional English manor. But from the day a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe Estate in Dorset, and 12-year-old Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently. With her stepparents distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie their maid. But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, jolting their lives on to very different tracks, it becomes clear the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they want. As they find themselves drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story.


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The Odyssey by Lara Williams

Meet Ingrid. She works on a huge luxury cruise liner, where she spends her days reorganising the merchandise and waiting for long-term guests to die in the changing rooms. On her days off, she disembarks from the ship and gets black-out drunk on whatever the local alcohol is. It's not a bad life – and it distracts her from thinking about the other life she left behind five years ago. Then, one day, she is selected for the employee mentorship scheme, an initiative run by the ship's mysterious captain and self-anointed lifestyle guru, Keith, who pushes Ingrid further than she thought possible. But sooner or later, she will have to ask herself: how far is too far? Mischievous and thought-provoking, The Odyssey takes Ingrid on a voyage that will eventually lead her home – the last place she wants to be.

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The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mendelson

The Hanrahan family are gathering for a momentous weekend. Famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan is preparing for a new exhibition – the first in many decades – and he’s sure it will burnish his reputation for good. His three children will be there: beautiful Leah, always her father’s biggest champion; sensitive Patrick, who has finally decided to strike out on his own; and insecure Jess, the youngest, who has her own momentous decision to make. But what of Lucia, Ray’s steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist too, but has always put her roles as wife and mother first. What will happen if she decides to change? For Lucia is hiding secrets of her own, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice. This Women’s Prize for Fiction nominee is a thrilling exploration of art, sacrifice, toxic family politics and personal freedom. 


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The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

It's 2010. Brilliant, successful tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton is desperate for a new idea. He's 40, with four kids, and restless, when he stumbles into a conversation with mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or ‘externalising’ memory. Within a decade, Bix's new technology allows you access to every memory you've ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others – and it has seduced millions. But not everyone. In linked narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of his Own Your Unconscious tech through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling and extraordinarily moving, The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that might only be moments away.


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People Person by Candice Carty-Williams

People Person is the follow-up to Candice Carty-Williams’s phenomenally successful debut, Queenie. Dimple Pennington is 30, and her life isn't really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple's life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. Despite a small but loyal following, she's never felt more alone – until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. When they're forced to reconnect with the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.


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One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

This is the heart-breaking new novel from the author of the international bestseller In Five Years. When Katy's mother dies, she’s left reeling. Carol wasn't just Katy's mum, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, the mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the town where Carol spent the summer before she met Katy's father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone. And then Carol appears, healthy and sun-tanned... and 30 years old. Katy doesn't understand what is happening, or how – all she can focus on is that somehow, impossibly, she has her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman who came before. But can we ever truly know our parents? Soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.


Available at Waterstones.com

Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a British-Nigerian writer, born in Peckham, and this is her debut novel. Yinka wants to find love. The problem is she also has a mum who thinks she's better qualified to find it for her. She also has too many aunties who frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, a preference for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food, and a bum she's sure is far too small as a result. The fact that she's a 31-year-old south Londoner who doesn't believe in sex before marriage is a bit of an obstacle too. So, when her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences 'Operation Find A Date for Rachel's Wedding'. Armed with an incredibly specific plan, will Yinka find herself a husband? 


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The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The Paris Apartment is the latest murder mystery thriller from the number one bestselling and award-winning author of The Guest List. The story takes place in No 12 Rue des Amants, a beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the banks of the Seine. Here, nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to tell. There’s the watchful concierge, the scorned lover, the prying journalist, the naïve student, the unwanted guest. There was a murder at No. 12 last night – and the mystery lies behind the door of apartment three. The perfect book for anyone looking to get lost in a thriller.


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Careering by Daisy Buchanan

Harri has poured her life into her job at Panache magazine, losing friendships, the love of her life, and increasingly, her sanity. She knows it will all be worth it when she gets the top job. Until she's side lined, passed over for promotion and forced into running 'a new venture', which everyone knows is code for 'being pushed out'. Imogen has had to hustle her whole professional life to cling onto an industry that favours the privileged. When Harri offers her a job, putting an end to her constant sofa-surfing, she feels like all her dreams are coming true. But her fairy-tale ending soon sours as she finds herself putting more and more of herself into writing for a company that doesn't care if she sinks or swims. Harri and Imogen both thought they loved their jobs, but it is becoming increasingly clear that their jobs do not love them. Together, they stage a rebellion the only way they know how. But what will the view look like from the other side?
 
Available at Waterstones.com

Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes’ newest novel is a deep dive back into the lovable Walsh family. Twenty-five years after the iconic, 1.5 million-copy bestseller Rachel's Holiday burst onto the scene, Rachel is back. In the 90s, Rachel Walsh was a mess, but a spell in rehab transformed everything, and life became very good, very quickly. These days, Rachel has love, family, a great job as an addiction counsellor – she even gardens. Her only bad habit is a fondness for expensive trainers. But with the sudden reappearance of a man she'd once loved, her life wobbles. She'd thought she was settled, fixed forever. Is she about to discover that no matter what our age, everything can change?
 
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Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

From the award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Writers & Lovers and Euphoria comes a new collection of short stories. Told in the intimate voices of complex, endearing characters, Five Tuesdays in Winter intriguingly subverts expectations as it explores desire, loss, jolting violence and love at all costs. A reclusive bookseller begins to feel the discomfort of love again. Two college roommates have a devastating middle-aged reunion. A proud old man rages powerlessly in his granddaughter's hospital room. And a writer receives a visit from all the men who have tried to suppress her voice. Romantic, hopeful, raw and honest, this wide-ranging collection by Lily King is a must read. 
 
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Thrown by Sara Cox

Thrown is the debut novel from much-loved broadcaster Sara Cox. The inhabitants of the Inventor's Housing Estate keep themselves to themselves. There are the friendly hellos when commutes coincide and the odd cheeky eye roll when the wine bottles clank in number 7's wheelie bin, but it's not exactly Ramsay Street. The dilapidated community centre is no longer the beating heart of the estate that Becky remembers from her childhood, so the new pottery class she's helped set up feels like a fresh start. And not just for her. The assorted neighbours come together to try out a new skill, under the watchful eye of their charismatic teacher Sasha. And as the soft unremarkable lumps of clay are slowly moulded into delicate vases and majestic pots, so too are the lives of four women. Concealed passions and heartaches are uncovered, relationships shattered and formed, and the possibility for transformation is revealed.

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