The Best Books of 2022 (So Far)—According to Real Simple Editors

books for July 2022
Photo: Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

If you're looking for a good book to curl up with, to create a lively conversation for your book club, or just a relaxing beach read for your next getaway, these great new books for 2022 will keep you page-turning well past bedtime. Check back every month for a new set of recommendations from the Real Simple editors to add to your to-read list.

01 of 30

Any Other Family

any other family book cover
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In Eleanor Brown's Any Other Family, four biological siblings are adopted by three sets of parents—two couples and one single mother—who are committed to keeping the kids in each other's lives. But this well-intentioned agreement proves difficult in practice, especially when the children's biological mother announces she's pregnant again. A tearjerker that nails the issues of fertility, adoption, and raising kids, this is a conversation starter about parenthood you don't want to miss.

02 of 30

Cult Classic

cult classic book cover
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Imagine: You're at a reunion dinner with former coworkers when you excuse yourself to buy a pack of cigarettes. As you walk back to the restaurant, you run into a former boyfriend, and then another, and then another. That's what happens to Lola in Sloane Crosley's Cult Classic. Clearly something is up, and it's not mere coincidence. This wildly entertaining, hilarious, genre-defying, sci-fi-esque novel about dating and relationships is guaranteed to be unlike anything you've read before.

03 of 30

Nora Goes Off Script

nora goes off script book cover
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Nora Hamilton writes movies for a romance channel, and her newest script—based on her own failed marriage—is picked up by Hollywood and being filmed in the farmhouse she shares with her two kids. When the movie's leading man offers her $1,000 a day to stay for a week after shooting wraps so he can decompress, the real drama starts. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan is funny and smart, with a Nancy Meyers–movie quality you'll love and a main character you'll want to befriend. This is the perfect easy-breezy, feel-good read.

04 of 30

Fellowship Point

fellowship point book cover
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Set in idyllic coastal Maine, Alice Elliott Dark's Fellowship Point is the sweeping story of Agnes Lee and Polly Wister, longtime best friends who've made very different choices in life: One is a children's book author; the other is a wealthy wife and stay-at-home mom. When Agnes becomes deter-mined to have a piece of land in their community permanently protected, Polly could stand in her way. What follows is an engrossing, relatable tale about female friendship and the growing pains of long relationships.

05 of 30

More Than You'll Ever Know

more than you'll ever know book cover
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In 1985, Lore Rivera is an international banker whose double life—split between Mexico City and Laredo, Texas— comes to a halt when one of her two husbands murders the other. In 2017, Cassie Bowman is a true-crime writer who becomes dangerously obsessed with Lore's story, and the questions multiply as she digs deeper. More Than You'll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez is a something-for-everyone read (mystery! crazy family drama! romance!) with two incredible, secret-keeping protagonists.

06 of 30

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

you made a fool of death with your beauty book cover
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Feyi Adekola is trying to move on. After five years of mourning the love of her life, she embarks on a summer romance with a new friend, who whisks her away to the tropical island where he was raised. After they arrive, his father, a world- renowned chef, reignites a passion she thought was lost forever. You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi is a steamy and sexy read (as in, shut the book if your kids walk into the room) that also has tremendous heart.

07 of 30

Mean Baby

mean baby book cover
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As a child, actor Selma Blair was known as a troublemaker, a reputation she carried into adulthood. In Mean Baby, her raw, beautifully written autobiography, Blair recounts her difficult road—involving an addiction to alcohol and a complicated relationship with her mother—and shares how her multiple sclerosis diagnosis four years ago was, in many ways, what ultimately saved her.

08 of 30

Tracy Flick Can't Win

tracy flick can't win book cover
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In Tracy Flick Can't Win, Tom Perrotta revisits the main character in Election, his bestseller about an overachieving high school student, played to perky, type A perfection by Reese Witherspoon in 1999. This sequel, set in 2017, takes a sympathetic view of now middle-aged Tracy, an assistant principal and single mom, as she reconciles her past ambitions with her current dissatisfaction in life. Perrotta brings his trademark dark humor and insights into suburbia to the story, along with some sweet observations about friendship.

09 of 30

The Foundling

the foundling book cover
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The Foundling by Ann Leary takes place in 1927, as 18-year-old Mary starts work at the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. When she recognizes one of the patients, a childhood friend raised in the same orphanage she was, Mary begins to wonder what's actually going on at the facility, and whether women are being held against their will. This eye-opening novel, based in part on Leary's family history, looks at the outrageous ways our society has sought to control women.

10 of 30

The Mutual Friend

the mutual friend book cover
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Written by How I Met Your Mother cocreator Carter Bays, The Mutual Friend hopscotches across various characters' points of view: adrift, 28-year-old Alice; her wild roommate; her brother, a former tech CEO who became a monk; the nurse who served jury duty with him; even a robot and a canary. But it all comes back to Alice, who seriously needs to study for the MCAT to fulfill a promise to her late mother. Funny, sad, and deeply wise, this one-of-a-kind book will renew your faith in humanity—and make you really want to put down your phone.

11 of 30

Two Nights in Lisbon

two nights in lisbon book cover
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In Two Nights in Lisbon by bestselling author Chris Pavone, bookstore owner Ariel Price has accompanied her new, younger husband on a business trip to Portugal for a quick romantic getaway. But after she wakes up in their hotel room one morning and he's nowhere to be found, she realizes how little she knows about the man she married. This smart and suspenseful thriller is the perfect escape to kick off your summer reading.

12 of 30

Easy Beauty

easy beauty book cover
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Pulitzer Prize finalist Chloé Cooper Jones was born with a rare condition called sacral agenesis, leaving her in chronic pain. In Easy Beauty, her globetrotting memoir that takes readers from bars in Brooklyn, New York, to a Beyoncé concert in Italy, she candidly describes what it's like to inhabit a body that does not fit our culture's standards of beauty. Her story will make you think hard about how you regard the physical appearance of both yourself and others.

13 of 30

Hello, Molly!

hello, molly! book cover
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Molly Shannon's book opens with the event that would shape the Saturday Night Live alum's life: a car accident—with her father driving and 4-year-old Molly in the back—that killed her mother, younger sister, and cousin. What follows in Hello, Molly! is an incredible story of resilience (along with, of course, some laughs) showing how her upbringing influenced her remarkable career. Warm and openhearted, this one feels like a conversation. Consider getting the audiobook, read by the author herself.

14 of 30

The Evening Hero

the evening hero book cover
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The Evening Hero, the new novel by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, is about a Korean-born obstetrician facing his final years in the rural Minnesota town where he settled 50 years before. He's achieved the so-called American dream, but when his hospital is forced to close and he receives a letter that endangers all he's built, he has to reexamine his choices. This is a tender and shrewdly comic look at immigrant life, family, and how our past informs the future.

15 of 30

Take My Hand

take my hand book cover
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It's 1973, and Civil Townsend has landed a nursing job at a family-planning clinic in Alabama. She travels to a rural cabin to meet her first patients, 11- and 13-year-old sisters she's supposed to inject with birth control, and learns that something sinister is afoot when it comes to how the local healthcare system treats poor, Black girls. Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a riveting, based-on-true-events story about a heartbreaking chapter in our country's history.

16 of 30

The Candy House

the candy house
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The Candy House, what author Jennifer Egan calls a "sibling" to her Pulitzer Prize–winning A Visit from the Goon Squad, is unlike anything you've read. A rumination on our tech-obsessed culture, it centers on a fictional new technology that allows users to access their every memory and share them in exchange for the memories of others. With multiple perspectives and styles (there's a chapter composed solely of tweets), this mind-bending novel is a wild ride.

17 of 30

Sea of Tranquility

sea of tranquility
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Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel is a deeply imaginative novel spanning 500 years. It begins in 1912 with a British teenager's exile to Canada, hop- scotches through the 2020 pandemic, and moves on to the future, where a famous author, who lives on a moon colony, is visiting
Earth for a book tour. A mashup of sci-fi and historical fiction, this thought-provoking story powerfully examines where we've been and where we're going.

18 of 30

Lessons in Chemistry

lessons-in-chemistry by bonnie garmus
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Elizabeth Zott is a devoted chemist who wants to be taken seriously. But in 1960s California, her ambitions are routinely roadblocked by the men around her. Through a series of surprising (and entertaining) events, she becomes the star of America's most popular cooking show, where she sparks a revolution among her housewife viewers, motivating them to reassess their lives. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is a bold, smart, and often hilarious look at the value of so-called women's work.

19 of 30

Finding Me

finding me
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In Finding Me, Viola Davis writes with raw honesty about her Rhode Island childhood, which was marked by poverty and a difficult family situation, and her journey to become one of the most acclaimed actors in Hollywood today. This book is a testament to resilience, hard work, and the pow- er of owning your truth.

20 of 30

French Braid

french braid
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Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler's new novel, French Braid, proves once again that nobody can write about small family moments quite like she can. Her 24th novel focuses on the Garrett family from the 1950s to today, showing how each character's actions—the mother's pursuit of a painting career, a daughter's surprise pregnancy, a son's long absences—leave lasting marks on the others' lives.

21 of 30

The Cartographers

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
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Nell Young's father, an acclaimed cartographer, sidelined her promising career in the field when they had a falling out over a worthless old highway map. When he turns up dead in his office and Nell discovers the very same map hidden among his things, she discovers that it may actually be quite coveted and valuable—dangerously so. The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd is a wildly entertaining, imaginative ride, with a cinematic plot that keeps the pages turning.

22 of 30

Booth

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler
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Karen Joy Fowler's Booth is about the family of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin. This family drama (emphasis on the drama) is set in the Maryland wilderness, where Booth's parents and many siblings lived. An epic novel, it's both the story of an eccentric household and a historical saga, zooming in on the tumultuous life of each family member as the country catapults into civil war.

23 of 30

In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss

In Love by Amy Bloom
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Bestselling author Amy Bloom's In Love is the heartbreaking, intimate story of how she and her late husband, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, made the wrenching decision to end his life with the help of Dignitas, an assisted- dying nonprofit in Switzerland. From her point of view as caregiver and partner, Bloom writes candidly about the husband she adored, their transformative marriage, and the choices they made during an impossible time.

24 of 30

Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation

Tell Me Everything by Erika Krouse
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Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation is an engrossing memoir about how author Erika Krouse broke open
the case of a college student who was attacked and raped
by football players at a party. Reluctant to investigate the incident because of her own history of abuse, Krouse soon became deeply involved in the case, which eventually made national headlines. Her personal account reads like addictive true crime, and the emotional ending makes this an unforgettable read.

25 of 30

When We Were Birds

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
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The poetic prose in Ayanna Lloyd Banwo's debut novel captivates from the start, when Yejide is grappling with her dying mother's difficult legacy. In the cemetery, she meets Darwin, a gravedigger who's abandoned his Rastafarian upbringing for the sake of earning a living, and the two find hope and comfort in the least expected of places. When We Were Birds is a unique love story whose magical setting in Trinidad takes center stage.

26 of 30

Mercy Street

Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
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A Boston women's clinic is at the center of Mercy Street, the perceptive new novel by Jennifer Haigh. The story zooms in on the lives of every- day people in today's America—a counselor at the clinic, the pot dealer who helps remedy her anxiety, a loner whose only true community is online, an anti- abortion activist—and, in Haigh's expert hands, explores how we arrive at the beliefs we hold.

27 of 30

Notes on an Execution

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
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Danya Kukafka's Notes on an Execution is an intense thriller that reads like a mash-up of Law & Order and a college psych class. The fictional story of Ansel Packer, a serial killer on death row, is given a brilliant twist—it focuses on the women he affected, ultimately asking why we're drawn to crime stories about violent men. Cleverly constructed and smart, this is the kind of book you finish with a big exhale.

28 of 30

Violeta

Violeta by Isabel Allende
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Violeta, the latest novel by Isabel Allende, is the sweeping tale of Violeta Del Valle, a 100-year-old woman whose life is bookended by two pandemics: the Spanish flu and Covid-19. Her saga, written so vividly that it feels like an autobiography, is a testament to resilience and courage.

29 of 30

Don't Cry for Me

Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black
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Don't Cry for Me by Daniel Black is a novel- in-letters told from the point of view of a Black father at the end of his life, writing to his gay son about how his own upbringing shaped his actions, for better or worse. This moving read, guaranteed to make you think about the older adults in your life, is an insightful peek into how the elderly might regard their place in a changing world.

30 of 30

The Arc

The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen
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Ursula Byrne is a successful, sharp New Yorker who learns about an exclusive matchmaking service that promises to find clients their perfect partner. Intrigued by the guarantee, she succumbs to the company's intricate "assessments." Funny and modern, The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen is like a rom-com's cooler big sister. It's as much a satire as it is a romance, roasting our (perhaps misguided) reliance on high-tech solutions for matters of the heart.

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