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The best fiction books of 2022

Discover the best new fiction books of 2022, from gripping sequels to incredible debuts by fresh new voices. We also look back at the best fiction books of 2021 and share our edit of some of the best novels of all time.

Albert Camus once said that ‘fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth’, and with these eight words he perfectly encapsulated the immense power of the novel.

The best fiction teaches us history that the curriculum never did, sees us break in a new pair of shoes in a new city, breaks our heart and mends it –⁠ sometimes in the same chapter. It lets us breathe in a past era, step into fantasy worlds and even offers glimpses into dystopian futures.

As 2022 marks another exciting year of new books, we've also collected the best fiction of 2021, from bestsellers to the award-nominated debuts you may have missed.

But there are some books that never age, and these page-turners certainly deserve a place on your TBR pile. So for even more reading inspiration, we also share our edit of the best fiction books of all time.

The best new fiction books of 2022

Luckiest Girl Alive

by Jessica Knoll

Book cover for Luckiest Girl Alive

Dubbed by Big Little Lies star Reese Witherspoon as ‘a great story you can’t put down’, debut thriller Luckiest Girl Alive will keep you turning the pages until the end. Ani FaNelli has the perfect life and a fabulous wedding planned, but beyond the facade her lies hide a much darker past. A documentary producer wants Ani to tell her side of a chilling incident that happened when she was a teenager, and she wants to show the world how much she’s changed, but will her past threaten everything she’s worked so hard to build?

Stone Blind

by Natalie Haynes

Book cover for Stone Blind

This retelling of the famed myth of Medusa asks who the real monsters are, after all. The sole mortal raised in a family of gods, Medusa is alone in her ability to experience change and to be hurt. Then, when the sea god Poseidon commits an unforgivable act in the temple of Athene, the goddess takes her revenge where she can – and she is changed forever. Writhing snakes replace her hair, and her gaze now turns any living creature to stone. Unable to control her new power, she is condemned to a life of shadows and darkness. Until Perseus embarks upon a quest . . .


The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings

by Joanna Nadin

Book cover for The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings

It's 1988 in Pencalenick, Cornwall, and seventeen-year-old Jason feels there's more to life than working in his Dad's pub. Then in walk glamorous twins Daisy and Bea, and a heady entrancing summer begins. By the end of that summer, someone is dead. Thirty years on, renowned actress Daisy Hemmings decides to publish her autobiography, with the help of James Tate who is an expert ghost writer. The reason he is so good at inhabiting the lives of others though, is that he has spent years pretending to be someone he is not . . .

The Atlas Six

by Olivie Blake

Book cover for The Atlas Six

Bestselling fantasy sensation The Atlas Six follows six young magical practitioners as they compete to join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Their members enjoy a lifetime of power and prestige. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places. Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.

The Last Summer

by Karen Swan

Book cover for The Last Summer

It's summer on the wild Scottish island of St Kilda, and free-spirited Effie Gillies is showing a visitor, handsome Lord Sholto, around the island. She falls in love for the first time, bur then a storm hits and wrecks her world. Three months later, and the islanders are being evacuated to the mainland. Sholto returns, to offer her a job on his estate, and their differences seem insurmountable, even as the connection between them sizzles. Then there is a shock discovery on St Kilda, and a bright new life is clouded by dark secrets.

Ophelia After All

by Racquel Marie

Book cover for Ophelia After All

The course of love – and sexuality – never did run smooth. Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes and who she is,  but when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. Soon, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the version of herself she’s always imagined or discovering who she really is, after all.

A Marvellous Light

by Freya Marske

Book cover for A Marvellous Light

For fans of Bridgerton who'd like to welcome magic into their lives. . .

Set in an alternative Edwardian England, this is a comedy of manners, manor houses, and hedge mazes: including a magic-infused murder mystery and a delightful queer romance from debut author Freya Marske. 

Young baronet Robin Blyth thought he was taking up a minor governmental post. However, he's actually been appointed parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society. If it weren’t for this administrative error, he’d never have discovered the incredible magic underlying his world. 

But he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey, his adversarial magical-society counterpart. Thrown together, Robin and Edwin will discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles.

Briefly, A Delicious Life

by Nell Stevens

Book cover for Briefly, A Delicious Life

It's 1838, and Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her children make a voyage to a Mallorcan monastery, in an attempt to recover from the excesses of Paris. Looking on curiously is Blanca, the sparky ghost of a teenage girl whose life was cut short. She has discovered over the last three hundred years that her passion is women, and when George Sand arrives wearing a man's clothes, Blanca is in love. As winter sets in the neighbours grow suspicious, and George tries to hold herself and her family together, as Chopin writes despairing preludes on an untuned piano.

Disorientation

by Elaine Hsieh Chou

Book cover for Disorientation

When twenty-nine-year-old Ingrid Yang finally completes her dissertation on canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou she never wants to hear about 'Chinese-y' things ever again. Finding a strange note in the Chou archives, she thinks she has found a way out of the academic labyrinth. But Ingrid is accidentally in deep, and the note leads to a huge discovery, one which upsets her life and the lives of those around her. With two trusty friends Ingrid sets off on a rollercoaster of campus protests and drug hallucinations, leading her to confront her relationships with white men and institutions – and herself.

One Night in Italy

by Lucy Diamond

Book cover for One Night in Italy

In this charming, funny and heartwarming novel from bestselling author Lucy Diamond, three women cross paths at an Italian language evening class. Anna has just discovered that the father she's never met is Italian and is determined to meet him, Catherine's is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after the end of her marriage, and Sophie, the class teacher, is desperate to escape the tensions at home and fly back to sunny Sorrento. As friendships form and secrets from Italy begin to emerge, love affairs blossom in unlikely places and tough decisions arise, it’s going to be a year that Anna, Catherine and Sophie will never forget.

Owner of a Lonely Heart

by Eva Carter

Book cover for Owner of a Lonely Heart

Gemma is scared that if life slows down she'll have to face up to how lonely she is having lost her true love. She crams her days with work and taking her dog Bear to visit young hospital patients. Dan is scared of anyone knowing the real him. He is the life and soul of the party, but he's hiding a deep secret. And Casey is Dan's twelve-year-old daughter, though they hardly know each other. She's scared too, as she begins treatment for a tumour. When the three meet one hot July day, they instantly bond. Fate – and a scruffy terrier - have brought them together. But can they overcome their fears and truly connect?

Young Mungo

by Douglas Stuart

Book cover for Young Mungo

The extraordinary, powerful second novel from the Booker prize-winning author of Shuggie BainYoung Mungo is both a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James. Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.

The Attic Child

by Lola Jaye

Book cover for The Attic Child

It's 1907, and twelve-year-old Celestine is locked in the attic of a house by the sea. He has been forcibly removed from his home in Africa and is treated as a servant. He dreams of home and family, even as his mother's face, and his real name, begin to fade. Decades later a young orphan girl is banished to the same attic. Under the floorboards she finds mysterious artefacts, and on a wall there is a sentence etched in a language she does not recognise. What she does recognise though, is that she is not the first child to be held captive in the attic. This must-read novel is a tale of love, loss and family secrets that shines a light on the early Black British experience. 

The Vacation

by John Marrs

Book cover for The Vacation

How far would you go to get away from your past? Venice Beach in LA is heaven on earth, with tourists galore flocking to the ocean and Hollywood promise. But for eight strangers staying at a beach-front hostel, a holiday is not the first thing on their minds. All of them are on the run, and all have secrets they would murder to keep. The Vacation is a gripping, holiday-set thriller from John Marrs, who wrote The One, now a Netflix Original Series – it was longlisted for the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. 

The Lamplighters

by Emma Stonex

Book cover for The Lamplighters

Inspired by true events, Emma Stonex’s debut novel is a riveting mystery which will grip the reader, and a beautifully written exploration of love and grief. In Cornwall in 1972, three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from shore. The door is locked from the inside, and the clocks have stopped. What happened to those men, and to the women they left behind? 

One Good Thing

by Alexandra Potter

Book cover for One Good Thing

Liv Brooks is in shock at the turn her life has taken. She has just got divorced and her life feels unsteady when she swaps London life for the Yorkshire Dales, trying to start life afresh. But new starts can be tricky, and lonesome Liv adopts Harry, an ageing dog from a local shelter. Walking round the village with Harry, Liv encounters others who need a new start too, from a lonely old man called Valentine to fearful child Stanley and angry teen Maya. This funny, honest and heart-tugging tale is about having the courage to turn life around and find new meanings.

Red, White & Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

Book cover for Red, White & Royal Blue

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

Alex Claremont-Diaz is handsome, charismatic, a genius – pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House ever since his mother first became President of the United States. There’s only one problem. When the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an altercation between Alex and Prince Henry, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family and state devise a plan for damage control: stage a truce. But what begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon they are hurtling into a secret romance that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations.

Single Bald Female

by Laura Price

Book cover for Single Bald Female

At the point of turning thirty, Jessica Jackson has everything in place: a job, a great boyfriend and a snug London flat they share with their cat. Then a sudden diagnosis of breast cancer causes Jess's world to implode. As friends move forward with baby scans and weddings, Jess feels alone and left behind. And then she mets Annabel, a mysterious young woman with incurable cancer. Annabel may not have long left to live, but she wants to show Jess how it's possible to make every day meaningful.

The Dance Tree

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Book cover for The Dance Tree

It's 1518 in Strasbourg, and in the intense summer heat a solitary woman starts to dance in the main square. She dances for days without rest, and is joined by hundreds of other women. The city authorities declare a state of emergency, and bring in musicians to play the devil out of the dancing women. Meanwhile pregnant Lisbet, who lives at the edge of the city, is tending to the family's bees. The dancing plague intensifies, as Lisbet is drawn into a net of secret passions and deceptions. Inspired by true events, this is a compelling story of superstition, transformative change and women pushed to their limits.

The Love of My Life

by Rosie Walsh

Book cover for The Love of My Life

Emma is in love with her husband Leo and she adores Ruby, their young daughter. There's just one problem . . . everything she told them about herself is a lie. Leo might nver have found this out, but for his job. He is an obituary writer – she is a well known marine biologist – nad when she becomes seriously ill he copes by delving into her life. And he discovers his wife is a fiction - she is not even going by hr real name. As her dark past comes to light, Emma must convince Leo that she really is the person he thought she was. First though, she needs to tell him about the love of her other life.


Trust

by Hernan Diaz

Book cover for Trust

Everyone in 1920s New York knows of Benjamin and Helen Rask, the Wall Street tycoon and the daughter of bohemian aristocrats. They live in a sphere of untold wealth, but what is the true cost of their fortune? This mystery sits at the heart of Bonds, a bestselling 1938 novel that all of New York has read. But, like all stories, there are different perspectives, and Hernan Diaz puts these different narratives into conversation with each other, in a novel that tracks across a century and documents the truth-bending power of money, with provocative revelations at each turn. A highly anticipated read, this is set to be one of the best new fiction books of 2022.

The Exhibitionist

by Charlotte Mendelson

Book cover for The Exhibitionist

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022

Meet the Hanrahan family, gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for a new exhibition of his art – the first in many decades – and one he is sure will burnish his reputation for good. His three children will be there: beautiful Leah, sensitive Patrick, and insecure Jess, the youngest, who has a momentous decision to make. . .

And what of Lucia, Ray’s steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist, too, but has always had to 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.

The longer the marriage, the harder truth becomes. . .

A Time Outside This Time

by Amitava Kumar

Book cover for A Time Outside This Time

Satya, a struggling writer, goes on an acclaimed artist retreat and finds that the pressures of the world outside follow him there. The American president is raving, the world is being swept by a virus, and the relentless news cycle reporting fiction as fact only makes things worse. Satya begins to find inspiration for an Orwellian novel set in the post-truth era, a time in which it becomes impossible to recall an earlier, different way of operating.


You've Reached Sam

by Dustin Thao

Book cover for You've Reached Sam

How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line? Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out: move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone.

Luster

by Raven Leilani

Book cover for Luster

Raven Leilani is a funny and original new voice in fiction, and Luster is one of the best novels of 2021. Her razor-sharp yet surprisingly tender debut is an essential novel about what it means to be young now. Edie is messing up her life, and no one seems to care. Then she meets Eric, who is white, middle-aged and comes with a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. And as if life wasn’t hard enough, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s family.

The Christie Affair

by Nina de Gramont

Book cover for The Christie Affair

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days. Only one person knows the truth of her disappearance – her husband's mistress. 

The world of Agatha Christie is glamourous parties full of socialites, and country house weekends. But the world of Nan O'Dea is very different. A tough London upbringing followed by a life in Ireland marred by tragedy, Nan has fought her way back to England – with her sights set on Agatha. 

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

The Office of Historical Corrections

by Danielle Evans

Book cover for The Office of Historical Corrections

Described by Roxane Gay as the 'finest short story writer working today,' Danielle Evans packs a powerful punch with each of the stories included in this remarkable collection. Across six short stories, as well as an eye-opening titular novella, she magnifies pivotal moments in her character's lives or relationships that allow for a wider blistering exploration of race, culture and history. 

The Four Winds

by Kristin Hannah

Book cover for The Four Winds

Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing, called Kristin Hannah's novel ‘powerful and compelling.’ Elsa Martinelli finally has everything she had wished for – a family, a home and a livelihood on a farm on the Great Plains. But when drought threatens her family and community, Elsa must decide whether to stay and fight for the land she loves or flee to California in search of a better life. 

Five Tuesdays in Winter

by Lily King

Book cover for Five Tuesdays in Winter

The acclaimed author of Euphoria, Lily King writes with minimalistic grace about the characters and lives contained within this book of short stories. A bookseller cannot contain his love for his employee, a lonely teenager is looked after by a couple of college students, a girl loses her innocence in an encounter with her employer's son but gains strength in the aftermath, and a nonagenarian sits distraught at his granddaughter's hospital bed. Spiced with romance, honesty and a hint of the surreal, these musings on love are unmissable.

Invisible

by Danielle Steel

Book cover for Invisible

Antonia Adams was born in the lonely gulf between her unhappy parents: a rich businessman and a beautiful model. As she grows up, she endeavours to hide from the world – to become invisible. The movies are Antonia's only escape, and she longs to become a screenwriter. On a summer job at a Hollywood studio Antonia meets a filmmaker, who wants to put her centre stage and make her a star. She is thrust unwillingly into the public eye, and the public love her. But her real dream is to make films, a dream she must pursue through tragedy and doubt.

Hare House

by Sally Hinchcliffe

Book cover for Hare House

On a crisp autumn day a woman travels to London, having left her post at a London girls school in murky circumstances. She starts to explore the land around her cottage on the isolated Hare House estate, walking the moors and woodland. And she begins to hear unsettling stories, of witches, strange clay figures, and young men scared out of their wits. Having made friends with her landlord Grant and his sister Cass, doubts begin to descend. And when a snowfall traps the inhabitants of the house together, the tension escalates . . .

The Missing Sister

by Lucinda Riley

Book cover for The Missing Sister

The six D’Aplièse sisters have each been on their own incredible journey to discover their heritage, but they still have one question left unanswered: who and where is the seventh sister? They only have one clue – an image of a star-shaped emerald ring. The search to find the missing sister will take them across the globe – from New Zealand to Canada, England, France and Ireland – uniting them all in their mission to complete their family at last.

In doing so, they will slowly unearth a story of love, strength and sacrifice that began almost one hundred years ago, as other brave young women risk everything to change the world around them.

Discover Lucinda Riley'sThe Seven Sisters series, in order.

To Paradise

by Hanya Yanagihara

Book cover for To Paradise

This amazing new novel from the author of A Little Life begins in the nineteenth century, and spans stories of love, family, loss and promised utopia over the following three centuries. In 1893, New York is part of the Free States, and a gentle young member of a privileged family falls for a charismatic and impoverished music teacher. In 1993 Manhattan is being swept by the AIDS epidemic, and a young Hawaiian man with a wealthy older partner must hide his difficult family background. And in 2093 in a world where plague and totalitarian rule is rife, a young woman tries to solve the mystery of her husband's disappearances. 

This powerful and symphonic vision of America's past and present is a marvellous demonstration of Hanya Yanagihara's literary genius, as she weaves three stories together with recurring notes and deepening themes.

The Ophelia Girls

by Jane Healey

Book cover for The Ophelia Girls

Set between two fateful summers, The Ophelia Girls is a visceral, heady exploration of desire, infatuation and the perils and power of being a young woman.

In the summer of 1973, teenage Ruth and her four friends are obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings, and a little bit obsessed with each other. They spend the scorching summer days in the river by Ruth's grand family home, pretending to be the drowning Ophelia and recreating tableaus of other tragic mythical heroines. But by the end of the summer, real tragedy has found them.

Twenty-four years later, Ruth, now a mother of three, moves her family into her now somewhat dilapidated childhood home following the death of her father. Her daughter Maeve is officially in remission and can finally be a 'normal' teenager with the whole summer ahead of her. But when Stuart, a handsome photographer and old friend of her parents comes to stay, Maeve finds that there is something about him that makes her feel more alive than all of her life-saving treatments put together . . .

As the heat of the summer burns, how long can the family go before long-held secrets threaten to burst their banks and drown them all?

The City of Tears

by Kate Mosse

Book cover for The City of Tears

The sequel to bestselling author Kate Mosse’s epic historical fiction novel The Burning Chambers, The City of Tears is set in France in 1572, when the Wars of Religion have been raging for ten violent years. A royal wedding may mean peace at last, but when Minou Joubert receives a wedding invitation she has no idea that in the days following the marriage her own family will be ripped apart. 

How to Save a Life

by Eva Carter

Book cover for How to Save a Life

It’s nearly midnight on the eve of the millennium when eighteen-year-old Joel’s heart stops. A school friend, Kerry, performs CPR for almost twenty exhausting minutes, ultimately saving Joel’s life, while her best friend Tim freezes, unable to help. That moment of life and death changes the course of all three lives over the next two decades: each time Kerry, Joel and Tim believe they’ve found love, discovered their vocation, or simply moved on, their lives collide again.

Kololo Hill

by Neema Shah

Book cover for Kololo Hill

Neema Shah’s impressive debut literary novel is set amidst the turmoil of the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin. When a devastating decree is announced which says all Ugandan Asians must leave the country in ninety days, Asha and Pran and Pran’s mother Jaya, must leave everything they’ve ever known for a new life in Britain. But as they try to rebuild their lives, a terrible secret hangs over them.

Catch the Rabbit

by Lana Bastašic

Book cover for Catch the Rabbit

Sara hasn't seen or heard from her childhood best-friend, Lejla, in years. She's comfortable with her life in Dublin, with her partner, their avocado plant, and their naturist neighbour. But when Lejla calls and demands she come home to Bosnia, Sara finds that she can't say no. What begins as a road trip becomes a journey through the past, as the two women set off to find Armin, Lejla's brother who disappeared towards the end of the Bosnian War. Presumed dead by everyone else, only Lejla and Sara believed Armin was still alive.

Translated into English by Lana Bastašic, Catch the Rabbit tells the story of how we place the ones we love on pedestals, and then wait for them to fall off, how loss marks us indelibly, and how the traumas of war echo down the years.


The best  fiction books of 2021

Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up

by Alexandra Potter

Book cover for Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up

Life hasn't quite worked out for Nell. While all her friends seem to be living the Insta-perfect dream, Nell is feeling distinctly washed-up and lonesome. But then she starts a clandestine podcast and forges an unusual friendship with eighty-something widow Cricket, and things don't seem quite so bad. Laughs, a few tears, and a reminder that we are all in it together.

Flying Angels

by Danielle Steel

Book cover for Flying Angels

Nurses Lizzie and Audrey are bereft in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Both have lost someone they love, and both are trying to deal with grief whilst playing their role in the war effort. The friends are sent to England, and join a mission to fly to the Front to rescue wounded soldiers. Both are immersed in the trials and bonds of wartime, but when the war ends they face one of the greatest challenges of all: to learn to love again.

What Strange Paradise

by Omar El Akkad

Book cover for What Strange Paradise

More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another over-filled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too-many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. And only one made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials, but of Vänna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though Vänna and Amir are complete strangers and don’t speak a common language, Vänna determines to do whatever it takes to save him.

Circus of Wonders

by Elizabeth Macneal

Book cover for Circus of Wonders

1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell's life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

People Like Her

by Ellery Lloyd

Book cover for People Like Her

This smart debut thriller from husband-and-wife writing team Ellery Lloyd takes a compelling look at the dark side of social media and influencer culture. Emmy Jackson is better known to her online fans as Instagram sensation Mamabare, famous for telling it like it is when it comes to modern parenthood. But not everything you see online can be believed, and someone out there knows the truth about Emmy and intends to make her pay . . .

The Library of the Dead

by T. L. Huchu

Book cover for The Library of the Dead

When Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker, earning a living by carrying messages from the dead to the living, it seemed harmless enough. But then the dead begin whispering about someone who is bewitching children and leaving them joyless husks. When Ropa starts investigating she needs to draw on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. And what she finds will change her world forever . . . This magical fantasy book is the first in the Edinburgh Nights series. 

The Promise

by Lucy Diamond

Book cover for The Promise

This unforgettable new fiction book from bestselling author Lucy Diamond is about finding love, hope and joy in even the darkest of times. When Dan’s brother dies suddenly, Dan promises to support his grieving sister-in-law Zoe and her young children, to ensure their happiness and to live up to the man his brother was. But then a secret comes to light that makes Dan reconsider everything he knew about his older brother. Should he tell his family the truth, or let his brother’s secrets become his own? 

Amnesty

by Aravind Adiga

Book cover for Amnesty

Full of Aravind Adiga’s signature wit and magic, this novel from the Man Booker Prize-winning author is both a universal story and a timeless moral struggle. When Danny – an illegal immigrant in Sydney who has been denied refugee status – hears about a murder that has been committed which he may have information about, he faces a moral choice. Should he come forward with his knowledge of the crime and risk deportation, or should he stay silent, protecting the life he has built but letting justice go undone?

Shuggie Bain

by Douglas Stuart

Book cover for Shuggie Bain

One of the best novels of the year was Douglas Stuart’s blistering, Booker Prize-winning debut. Set in a poverty-stricken Glasgow in the early 1980s, this is a heartbreaking story which lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty and the limits of love. Agnes Bain has always dreamed of greater things, but when her husband abandons her she finds herself trapped in a decimated mining town with her three children, and descends deeper and deeper into drink. Her son Shuggie tries to help Agnes long after her other children have fled, but he too must abandon her to save himself. Shuggie is different, fastidious and fussy, and he is picked on by the local children and condemned by adults as ‘no’ right’. But he believes that if he tries his hardest he can be like other boys and escape this hopeless place.

Discover Douglas Stuart's favourite LGBTQIA+ books.

The Sin Eater

by Megan Campisi

Book cover for The Sin Eater

When fourteen-year-old May is orphaned, she begins a tough fight for survival. Arrested for stealing a loaf of bread, she’s sentenced to the harshest punishment – she must become a sin eater, shunned from society and condemned to take on the sins of the dead. But May’s invisibility opens new doors, and when she is called to hear the sins of one of the Queen’s dying courtiers she stumbles on a dark conspiracy only she can get to the bottom of. 

Read more about the real history behind The Sin Eater.


The best fiction books of all time 

Children of Blood and Bone

by Tomi Adeyemi

Book cover for Children of Blood and Bone

This West African fantasy debut features Zélie, who recalls a time when the soil of Orïsha was soaked in magic, and her mother gathered souls. But under the instructions of a heartless king, magic is disappearing, and anyone with those skills is being eliminated. Zélie and her mother must live in secret. But with the help of a rogue princess, she has the chance to strike back. How though, can she manage her magical powers – and her feelings for an enemy?

The Mercies

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Book cover for The Mercies

This stunningly evocative novel set on the remote Norwegian island of Vardø in the 1600s was inspired by the real Vardø storm and the subsequent witch hunt. When a catastrophic storm wipes out almost the entirety of the male population of the island, the women who are left, still grieving for their men, are forced to fend for themselves. Eighteen months later, the sinister new commissioner, Absolom Cornet, arrives with his young wife Ursa. Ursa sees independent women for the first time in her life, and she is drawn to Maren, the young woman who helps her navigate life in this harsh new world. But Absolom is convinced that the women’s behaviour is ungodly and he must bring them to heel by any means necessary.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

by George Orwell

Book cover for Nineteen Eighty-Four

One of the most influential fiction books of all time, 1984 is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime led by The Party. The novel has a fascinating history, from the phenomenon it became on publication to the impact it has had on the English language.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe

by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Book cover for Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe

This is another beautiful, simple tale about the time-travelling customers of the Cafe Funiculi Funicula from the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold. Customers include a man who travels to see the girl he couldn’t marry, a son who had to miss his mother’s funeral and a man who travels back to see his friend who died twenty-two years ago. 


Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Book cover for Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s witty satire of love, class and a woman’s position in eighteenth-century England is a classic fiction book and her best-loved novel. When headstrong Elizabeth Bennett meets aristocratic Mr Darcy sparks fly, but both must have their pride humbled and address their prejudices before they can acknowledge their love for each other. 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

Book cover for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of the most-loved science-fiction books of all time. Beginning life as a Radio 4 show in 1978, it has since spawned adaptations across almost every format, making it a staple on every respectable list of the best fiction books. Following the galactic adventures of Arthur Dent after his house's untimely demolition to make way for a new hyperspace express route, this new edition of 'the Guide' features exclusive bonus archive material and a new introduction from Russell T. Davies.

Firefly Lane

by Kristin Hannah

Book cover for Firefly Lane

Kristin Hannah writes some of the most heartbreaking and best fiction around, and Firefly Lane is no exception.  Kate Mularkey has accepted her place on the bottom rung of her school's social ladder. But then 'the coolest girl in the world,' Tully Hart, moves in across the street and wants to be Kate's best friend. The pair are inseparable for thirty years, until a terrible betrayal tears them apart. Firefly Lane has been adapted into a Netflix series starring Katherine Heigl as Tully Hart and Sarah Chalke as Kate Mularkey.

Love Kristin Hannah's books? Discover our guide to her novels here.

Gingerbread

by Helen Oyeyemi

Book cover for Gingerbread

Perdita and Harriet Lee make gingerbread, which isn’t popular in London, but which is very popular in Druhástrana, Harriet’s home as a child – which Wikipedia thinks doesn’t exist. Years later, Perdita seeks out her mother’s long-lost friend Gretel, which prompts a retelling of Harriet’s story, and a few reunions. Inspired by the special place gingerbread has in fairy tales, this is a wonderful story of a surprising family legacy.

Read author Daisy Johnson on the wonder of Helen Oyeyemi.

Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl

by Andrea Lawlor

Book cover for Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl

A joyous romp through early '90s American subculture, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl follows Paul Polydoris, a shapeshifter who can change sex at will, as he navigates relationships and identity politics from Iowa City to Chicago leather bars, and from a women-only music festival to the bright lights of San Francisco. This riotous bildungsroman is full of heart and humour.

Read our interview with Andrea Lawlor

The Confession

by Jessie Burton

Book cover for The Confession

The highly anticipated third novel from million-copy bestselling author Jessie Burton is a powerful and deeply moving story about secrets, motherhood and friendship. In 1980 Elise meets Constance, a successful writer, and quickly falls under her spell, moving to LA to be with her. Three decades later, Rose Simmons is looking for answers about her mother, who disappeared after she was born. When she learns that reclusive novelist Constance Holden was the last person to see her mother alive, she is drawn to her door in search of a confession . . .

Read Lucy Scholes on The Confession and portrayals of motherhood in literature.


Looking for more inspiration? Explore our recommendations in the genres you love with our edit of the best thriller books of 2021, the best fantasy books publishing this year and the best science fiction books. Or, if you're looking for something a little less fiction and more fact, don’t miss our edit of the best non-fiction books of all time.