Wanting some new fiction and nonfiction to explore? Look no further than Orem Public Library’s list of our 2022 favorites. Voted on by the library staff, these books include a breadth of genres and topics—from dragons to pre-Christian goddesses, there’s something here for everyone.
By Kelly Barnhill
Adult Fiction (Fantasy)
Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950s America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies.
Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not?
Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of. Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this disturbing event: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and helping to raise a beloved younger girl obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety.
In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the forced limitations of girlhood. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small—their lives and their prospects—and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.
By Cormac McCarthy
Adult Fiction (Literary)
Pass Christian, Mississippi, 1980: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips up the jacket of his wet suit and plunges from a Coast Guard tender into darkness. His dive light illuminates the sunken jet, nine bodies still buckled in their seats, hair floating, eyes devoid of speculation. Missing from the crash site are the pilot’s flight bag, the plane’s black box, and the tenth passenger. But how? A collateral witness to machinations that can only bring him harm, Western is shadowed in body and spirit—by men with badges; by the ghost of his father, an inventor of the bomb that melted glass and flesh in Hiroshima; and by his sister, the love and ruin of his soul.
By T. Kingfisher
Adult Fiction (Fantasy)
This isn’t a fairytale where the princess marries a prince. It’s one where she kills him. From Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning author T. Kingfisher comes an original and subversive new fantasy adventure.
After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself. Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince, but only if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.
On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.
By Emily St. John Mantel
Adult Fiction (Science Fiction)
The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from an island off Vancouver in 1912 to a dark colony of the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and planets. Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
By Ashley Poston
Adult Fiction (Romance)
Ghost meets The Bold Type in this sparkling adult debut about a disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, from nationally bestselling author Ashley Poston.
Florence Day is a ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem: after a terrible break-up, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead. When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.
For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.
Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, too tall and too broad to be her father, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is. Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.
Runner Up: Something Wilder by Christina Lauren
By Jonathan Freedland
In April 1944, Rudolf Vrba became the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz—one of only four who ever pulled off that near-impossible feat. He did it to reveal the truth of the death camp to the world and to warn the last Jews of Europe what fate awaited them at the end of the railway line.
Against all odds, he and his fellow escapee, Fred Wetzler, climbed mountains, crossed rivers and narrowly missed German bullets until they had smuggled out the first full account of Auschwitz the world had ever seen, a forensically detailed report that would eventually reach Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and the Pope. And yet too few heeded the warning that Vrba—then just nineteen years old—had risked everything to deliver. Some could not believe it. Others thought it easier to keep quiet.
Vrba helped save 200,000 Jewish lives but he never stopped believing it could have been so many more. This is the story of a brilliant yet troubled man, a gifted “escape artist” who even as a teenager understand that the difference between truth and lies can be the difference between life and death, a man who deserves to take his place alongside Anne Frank, Oskar Schindler and Primo Levi as one of the handful of individuals whose stories define our understanding of the Holocaust.
By Ronald Hutton
In this riveting account, renowned scholar Ronald Hutton explores the history of deity-like figures in Christian Europe. Drawing on anthropology, archaeology, literature, and history, Hutton shows how hags, witches, the fairy queen, and the Green Man all came to be, and how they changed over the centuries.
Looking closely at four main figures—Mother Earth, the Fairy Queen, the Mistress of the Night, and the Old Woman of Gaelic tradition—Hutton challenges decades of debate around the female figures who have long been thought versions of pre-Christian goddesses. He makes the compelling case that these goddess figures found in the European imagination did not descend from the pre-Christian ancient world and have nothing Christian about them. It was in fact nineteenth-century scholars who attempted to establish the narrative of pagan survival that persists today.
By Rachel Smythe
Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s best-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe.
Persephone was ready to start a new life when she left the mortal realm for Olympus. However, she quickly discovered the dark side of her glamorous new home—from the relatively minor gossip threatening her reputation to a realm-shattering violation of her safety by the conceited Apollo—and she’s struggling to find her footing in the fast-moving realm of the gods. Hades is also off balance, fighting against his burgeoning feelings for the young goddess of spring while maintaining his lonely rule of the Underworld.
As the pair are drawn ever closer, they must untangle the twisted webs of their past and present to build toward a new future. This edition of Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated webcomic Lore Olympus features a brand-new, exclusive short story, and brings the Greek pantheon into the modern age in a sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.
By Dianna E. Anderson
For decades, our cultural discourse around trans and gender-diverse people has been viewed through a medical lens, through diagnoses and symptoms set down in books by cisgender doctors, or through a political lens, through dangerous caricatures invented by politicians clinging to power.
But those who claim non-binary gender identity deserve their own discourse, born out of the work of the transsexual movement, absorbed into the idea of transgender, and now, finally, emerging as its own category.
In tracing the history and theory of non-binary identity, and telling of their own coming out, non-binary writer Dianna E. Anderson answers questions about what being non-binary might mean, but also where non-binary people fit in the trans and queer communities. They offer a space for people to know, explore, and understand themselves in the context of a centuries-old understanding of gender nonconformity and to see beyond the strict roles our society has for men and women.
In Transit looks forward to a world where being who we are, whatever that looks like, isn’t met with tension and long-winded explanations, but rather with acceptance and love. Being non-binary is about finding home in the in-between places.
By Randall Monroe
The millions of people around the world who read and loved What If? still have questions, and those questions are getting stranger. Thank goodness xkcd creator Randall Munroe is here to help. Planning to ride a fire pole from the moon back to Earth? The hardest part is sticking the landing. Hoping to cool the atmosphere by opening everyone’s freezer door at the same time? Maybe it’s time for a brief introduction to thermodynamics. Want to know what would happen if you rode a helicopter blade, built a billion-story building, made a lava lamp out of lava, or jumped on a geyser as it erupted? Okay, if you insist.
Before you go on a cosmic road trip, feed the residents of New York City to a T. rex, or fill every church with bananas, be sure to consult this practical guide for impractical ideas.
Unfazed by absurdity, Randall consults the latest research on everything from swing-set physics to airplane-catapult design to clearly and concisely answer his readers’ questions. As he consistently demonstrates, you can learn a lot from examining how the world might work in very specific extreme circumstances. Filled with bonkers science, boundless curiosity, and Randall’s signature stick-figure comics, What If? 2 is sure to be another instant classic adored by inquisitive readers of all ages.
Runner Up: Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi
Written by: Amy S, Assistant Librarian