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Best books of 2022, chosen by St. Louis librarians

What’s the best new book you read this year?
Nenad Stojkovic
The choices include works by St. Louis authors.

It’s December: What better time to cozy up and open a great new book? Or, perhaps you’re looking for the perfect book to give as a gift this holiday season.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, librarians Tammy Jones of St. Louis County Library and Megan Temple of St. Louis Public Library will share their favorite books released in 2022.

Librarians Tammy Jones and Megan Temple talk 2022's best books

The following summaries were provided to STLPR by Tammy Jones.

“Take my Hand” by Dolen Perkins Valdez

“This is my favorite book of the year! We meet Civil, a young, well-to-do nurse with big dreams of helping her community. She comes to an Alabama clinic and is immediately thrust into the lives of two young Black girls, caught first in the trap of rural poverty and then in the spotlight of a national court case as their mistreatment at the clinic's hands comes out into the open. Based on the true story of the Relf sisters, this book will grip you, and stay with you, even after you’ve read the last sentence.”

“Last Summer on State Street” by Toya Wolfe 

“This is the coming-of-age story of Fee Fee (Felicia) as she navigates through the mean, and unforgiving, Chicago projects in the summer of 1999. She wants to make friends and build long-lasting relationships before her building gets torn down. Will she be able to build those relationships? Or will the projects and all its demons forever haunt her?”

“Anywhere You Run” by Wanda Morris

“Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement in Jackson Mississippi, two sisters are forced to separate, one on the run from the law after killing a white man, the other on the run to the north, leaving behind secrets waiting to be revealed.”

“The Violin Conspiracy” by Brendan Slocumb

“On the eve of a very important musical competition, Ray McMillian’s prized family heirloom, a violin, is stolen, and a $5 million ransom note is left in its place. Ray must find the violin, all the while dealing with racism within the classical music world and family issues that threaten to tear him apart.”

 Tammy Jones of St. Louis County Library, left, and Megan Temple of St. Louis Public Library.
Emily Woodbury
Tammy Jones of St. Louis County Library, left, and Megan Temple of St. Louis Public Library.

“Finding Me” by Viola Davis 

“A wonderful, stirring memoir! Viola Davis’ story is one for the ages. From being one of the only Black families in Rhode Island, to Julliard, to Broadway, to the Oscars, Viola Davis takes us on a journey that won’t soon be forgotten.”

“Shine Bright” by Danyel Smith 

“From the former editor of Vibe and Billboard magazines, Danyel Smith takes us through a musical time machine, with the stories of Diana Ross, Marilyn McCoo and many others — giving us the soundtrack that we didn’t know we needed.”

“The Movement Made Us” by David Dennis Jr. 

“Chosen as a Stephen Curry Book Club selection, this book intertwines two stories of civil rights activism, one from the son and one from the father, who for the first time shares his story.”

“Chasing Lakes: Love, Science and the Secrets of the Arctic” by Katey Walter Anthony 

“Leaving home at the age of 16, Dr. Katey Walter Anthony takes us on a journey from Alaska to Siberia for scientific discovery as well as self-discovery.”

“Roots, Rainbows & Truth: The North County Anthology” by the North County Writing and Arts Network

“Essays, artwork and poetry tell the story of north county, a suburb of the St. Louis community that is often overlooked. Throughout this book, we learn of childhood memories and experiences that have shaped the lives of people living in this community.”

The following summaries were provided to STLPR by Megan Temple.

“This Golden State" by Marit Weisenberg
"This coming-of-age mystery is perfect for fans who enjoy a romantic subplot. Weisenberg created a plot that is current and relatable to teens by using references to various social media platforms as well as modern technologies. It is also populated with complex characters who are revealed to be deeply emotional. Poppy and her family are white; her love interest is biracial with ancestors from Kerala, India and Jamaica."

“Hell Followed With Us” by Andrew Joseph White
"This fast-paced adventure is chaotic in the best way, featuring diverse and relatable characters whom I fell in love with, despite their flaws, and a heartrending love story that reminds us that humanity seeks comfort even in the most painful of times."

“Moon Witch, Spider King, A Novel” by Marlon James
"This is the second book in the Dark Star Trilogy from author Marlon James. Part adventure tale and part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality and the places where they overlap."

“Fairy Tale, A Novel” by Stephen King 
"I have a hot and cold reading relationship with Stephen King, but this fantasy/science fiction plot pulled me in. I loved how as usual with King, he brings you back to a time when you were a kid and had to deal with all the usual things kids dealt with. The plot and characters of this story will have you feeling nostalgic."

“Hidden Pictures” by Jason Rekulak
"Rekulak uses horror as a lens to bring the dark underbelly of suburbia into focus in this gripping supernatural thriller."

“The Recovery Agent” by Janet Evanovich
"This book offers lots of action/adventure and a fair chunk of sexual tension between the main character and her ex-husband."

“By the Book" by Jasmine Guillory
"Guillory's new enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy is a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Black and multiracial protagonists. I loved this retelling with a twist."

“Bone Deep: Untangling the Betsy Faria Murder Case” by Charles Bosworth
"I loved this true crime story that described how Russ Faria was wrongfully prosecuted and convicted for his wife's 2011 murder, despite having an alibi supported by surveillance video, receipts and friends' testimony and that her friend, Pamela Hupp, had recently replaced him as her insurance beneficiary."

“The Watchmakers: A Story of Brotherhood, Survival, and Hope Amid the Holocaust” by Harry Lenga
"Told through interviews with his son, watchmaker Harry Lenga's extraordinary memoir of endurance, faith and a unique skill that kept three brothers together — and alive — during the darkest times of World War II."

“Humans of St. Louis” by Lindy Drew
"'Humans of St. Louis' gives over 130,000 social media followers an intimate look into the lives and struggles of the people of St. Louis, one photo and story at a time. As St. Louis' story continues to be written, HOSTL took a snapshot of the past handful of years, one photo and story at a time."

“Yonder, A Novel” by Jabari Asim
"This is an inspiring tale about the power of love, friendship, and the will to resist oppression and struggle to survive."

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.