Book Bites: New Year’s Reading

The holidays have come and gone, our events calendar is filling back up, and the shop is humming along with happy browsers and boxes of new releases. It’s already shaping up to be a good year for reading — whether you’re the type of reader who sets specific reading goals or the sort who prefers to let the shelves show the way, you’re sure to find something to enjoy among our latest list of staff favorites below. No matter whether you start off your year of reading with a sweet picture book, a romance, a mystery, or something else entirely, here’s to good health, good cheer, and good books in 2022.


Ages 3-5

What is Love? by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Carson Ellis

In their first ever collaboration, author Mac Barnett and illustrator Carson Ellis have created an ode to the many types of love. You will smile, you will laugh, you might swallow hard. And you will hug those you love when you're done. A perfect picture book for all. 
—Cathy

READ because this is a timeless triumph from two masterful picture book creators.
PASS if you’re still stuck in Grinch-mode.
Order your copy before February 15 to receive a limited edition zine and a set of 4 enamel pins!

Ages 5-8

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael López

On a rainy day, a brother and sister can't stop quarreling until their grandmother tells them that "Somebody somewhere at some point was just as bored as you are now” and reminds them to use their imaginations to lift themselves out of their moods. A reminder that we all have the power to change our moods and a testament to the resilience and strength of those who came before us. A stunning collaboration.  
—Cathy

READ because this is another perfect collaboration from the creators of The Day You Begin.
PASS if you’ve never been bored or faced a challenge.
Order your copy 

Ages 9-12

Courage: My Story of Persecution by Freshta Tori Jan

This is the author's story of her life as a child in Afghanistan as the Taliban were coming back into power over the past dozen years. As a member of the Hazzari minority, Freshta and her family were persecuted by both the Taliban and other Afghanis, suffering both mental and physical abuse. Simply told, but with vivid descriptions of her experiences, this story reveals a personal side to what we have been hearing about in world news.
—Alice

READ because this nonfiction piece offers a great window for readers young and old.
PASS if your New Year’s resolution was to avoid empathy and current events.
Order your copy 

Ages 14 & Up

Here’s to Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Fans of What If It’s Us, your wait is over — Arthur and Ben are back! Two years after their relationship ended, Arthur is back in New York and in a long distance relationship.  He has an internship in a theater, his dream job, and he’s excited to be back. Ben is working on his book and romancing his maybe-possible boyfriend. Ben’s boyfriend provides an opportunity for him to get his book published if he is willing to move across the country to LA for a job. While Ben is preparing for the move, fate does its thing and Arthur and Ben are facing new feelings and challenges.

Here’s To Us is possibly the most romantic book I’ve ever read and I’ll cling to this series with my whole heart.
—Harper, Teen Advisory Board

READ if you, like us, have been impatiently waiting to see what came next for Ben and Arthur.
PASS if you’ve been dragging your feet about reading book one — get to it!
Order your copy 

Adult Fiction

The Maid by Nita Prose

Molly Gray, also referred to as "Maid Molly," follows in the footsteps of her grandmother by working at The Grand Regency Hotel. Molly enjoys her job and comes in every day with great pride and a goal to return the hotel rooms back to their original state. However, one day as Molly is doing her job, she finds herself in a spot she had never imagined when she discovers the body of a well-known guest, and she must help the detectives in their investigation. Unlike her peers, Molly struggles with social skills and is too trusting. As a result, she quickly becomes a person of interest, and the only way to clear herself of the murder is to determine who is telling her the truth and who is trying to cover for themselves. Will Molly be able to do it? If so, how? 
—Ayah

READ because who can resist a clever, charming, locked-room mystery?
PASS if you’re the one person on Earth who isn't interested in “Eleanor Oliphant meets Agatha Christie.”
Order your copy 

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

In an airport with a delayed flight and time in the "lounge," our narrator has an encounter with Jeff, the main character in the book. Jeff has a story to tell. Twenty years earlier, he apparently rescued a man who was drowning off the beach in LA. That man was Francis Arsenault, a famous art gallery owner.  After the rescue, Jeff stalks Aresnault and eventually becomes one of his employees and lover of the man's daughter. This thriller asks some intriguing questions: Who Francis? Why is Jeff telling this story? How does one decide what art is and how people perceive it? A good character study of what happens when the LA art scene goes mad.
—Valerie

READ because this is a suspenseful puzzle that will keep you guessing until the end.
PASS if you’re looking for something to spread over multiple sittings!
Order your copy 

The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Frida Lu finds herself in the middle of a bad day that threatens her parental rights. After being reported for being a bad mother, Frida must explain to the cops and Child Protective Services how she landed in her position. As she tries to explain her day, they have trouble believing her story, and she is faced with one of two options: lose her daughter or try to redeem herself. Wanting to redeem herself, Frida and other bad mothers are sent to the school for good mothers where they will have to relearn what it takes to be a good mother before they are evaluated and are able to either maintain their parental rights or be forced to sign them away. A good choice for readers who enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale.
—Ayah

READ this dark and modern page-turner if you like Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, or Miriam Toews.
PASS if you’re looking for something light and airy to start the new year.
Order your copy 

When You Are Mine by Michael Robotham

Philomena "Phil' McCarthy is an ambitious police officer who is doing her best to create a name for herself despite her family connections. When Philomena responds to a domestic violence call concerning the victim, Tempe Brown, and abuser, Darren Goodall, she finds that her career is on the line. Eager to pursue the case, despite being told by her superiors to let it go, she decides not to back down. Becoming obsessed with getting justice for Tempe, Philomena finds herself in trouble and calls in help from her family. Will it be enough to get her out of the hole she has dug herself in?
—Ayah

READ if you’re itching for a good can’t-put-it-down psychological thriller.
PASS if can’t-put-it-down thrillers tend to keep you on edge for weeks.
Order your copy