A moving gif of an orange and yellow book on a blue background. The book is called '2022' and opens to show illustrations of a ball of wool, a burning planet, and a person doing yoga
A moving gif of an orange and yellow book on a blue background. The book is called '2022' and opens to show illustrations of a ball of wool, a burning planet, and a person doing yoga

Will this year be different than the last? It’s a question that, as the pandemic ground on, haunted the transition from 2021 to 2022 as it did the previous year. But change is inevitable, and for many, the pandemic put much of life – our wants, our needs, and our plans for the future – into new perspective. It's hardly surprising that many of things we’re concerned about as we step into the new year are about positive change.

From focusing on our living spaces to preserving green ones, here are the trends and issues on our minds heading into 2022 – and the books to read to indulge and inform you.

Making your home a better place to live

Many of us have spent more hours at home than we could have ever anticipated before the pandemic. Even those who aren't working from home have shifted their socialising and leisure time inside thanks to repeated lockdowns. It's understandable, then, that we'd want to make where we live even more comfortable, beautiful and enticing. If you're keen to make living more lovely, these are the inspiring books to help.

A Modern Way to Live by Matt Gibberd (2021)

Ever wondered what it must be like to live in one of those houses photographed in magazines? Founder of game-changing estate agency The Modern House Matt Gibberd has boiled down the vital parts of how to make your home a better place to live in this sumptuous book. With swoon-worthy photography from all sorts of properties, Gibberd accessibly guides you through the basics of making the best of what your home's got. 

Tap to Tidy by Stacey Solomon (2021)

Loveable broadcaster Stacey Solomon has won a social media following of nearly five million thanks to her approachable, no-nonsense tips and tricks to manage your mess. Solomon's fun, quick and inspiring book offers failsafe strategies for tackling those anxiety-inducing cupboards and new ways to jazz up your everyday routine. Because when the world's this confusing, keeping home straightforward makes a big difference.

Happy Inside by Michelle Ogundehin (2020)

Interior design nerds may know Ogundehin from her masterful judging of TV show Interior Design Masters, but even those unfamiliar with her smart take on taste will benefit from this clever and mindful approach to living more happily. From the joys of flocked wallpaper and the vitality of a circular side table, to Ogundehin's knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness, this is a wonderful book to help you see past the trends and towards what will really make your heart sing at home.

Making a difference and tackling climate change

It’s no surprise, given the world-shattering news of the past year or so, that climate change is weighing heavily on minds in 2022. Following COP26, the number of Britons saying the environment is a top national issue reached record levels – but people are also feeling very disillusioned and confused about the topic. So readers, why not take the first important step, and immerse yourself in the books tackling the world’s most pressing issues, by some of their foremost experts?

This is Vegan Propaganda by Ed Winters (2022)

In this sharply titled new book, author Ed Winters confronts the issues posed by the current system of animal farming – a system contributing, Winters argues, not just to climate change but also chronic disease and illness, and exploitation both human and animal. Informed by meticulous research and written in a way that’s as accessible as it is fascinating (and horrifying), This is Vegan Propaganda is crucial reading for vegans and non-vegans alike.

How to Change Everything by Naomi Klein (2022)

From the author who shook the world with No Logo and On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal comes perhaps her most urgent book yet: How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other. In this new work, aimed at young activists and hailed by none other than Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein makes a powerful case for why young people are right to be angry about the state of the planet – and, most importantly, points to the various powerful tools at their disposal to turn things around.

39 Ways to Save the Planet by Tom Heap (2021)

“We got ourselves into this. Here,” writes author Tom Heap in his new book, “is how we can get ourselves out. 39 Ways to Save the Planet finds Heap looking optimistically – but pragmatically and straightforwardly, too – at the crisis we know is facing the planet and the power we have, technology we now have, the choices we could still make in order to tackle what he calls “the fundamental problem of our age.”

 

Read more: The best books about the climate crisis
Why Penguin Classics are going green

Being your best self

As pandemic has sharpened the conversation already happening around mental health the past decade or so, more and more readers are looking for ways to connect with their ‘best self’: a calm, purposeful, energised, content, and rested self who acts with purpose and intent. From seeking work on one’s own terms to therapy, from personal training to making space for hobbies and passions, there are plenty of ways to uncover your best self. Here are some books to help you get started.

How to Change by Katy Milkman (2021)

In this powerful new book from a behavioural scientist and university professor who has dedicated her career to studying the human capacity for change, Katy Milkman draws on her years of study and accumulated insights to outline strategies for “getting from where you are to where you want to be,” to borrow its subtitle. By identifying seven distinct ways that people commonly self-sabotage, Milkman aims to help readers harness their current behaviours in order to shift their lives in small but hugely significant ways.

Manifest by Roxie Nafousi (2022)

Perhaps you’ve seen it online, or heard it uttered on TV, but if you’re still not quite sure what “manifesting” is, you aren’t alone. And there are few better qualified to explain it to you – or, indeed, to write its bible – than the ‘Queen of Manifesting’ herself, Roxie Nafousi. In this new guide, subtitled 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life, self-development coach and author Nafousi provides a pragmatic program towards getting what you desire out of life, mixing science, philosophy, and clear practices to help readers reach their goals.  

Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie (2022)

Too often, we look for greatness, excellence, even perfection – but what if we could better embrace imperfections? What if good was good enough? It’s a question at the centre of Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie’s Good Enough: 40 Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection, in which they reveal the ways that small things – “blessings, prayers and human truths” – can reveal fruitful paths to meaning and transcend the endless struggle and subvert the meaning of “living your best life.”

Forging a more meaningful connection

After nearly two years of experiencing new and different forms of isolation, it's hardly surprising that so many of us are looking for new and meaningful ways to connect with one another. Why not start with a book club, or even a joint reading of a book among friends? It's amazing what kinds of conversations can be started through the words on a page. Here are some conversation-starting titles to kick you off:

The Herd by Emily Edwards (2022)

How people decide to parent their children is one of the most divisive topics around - which is why it's something people usually choose to discuss behind closed doors. When a white lie told to preserve a precious friendship unravels with tragic consequences at a child's birthday, it rips through a community with devastating effects. Who's wrong, who's right, and what would you have done differently? These are the irresitable questions posed by Emily Edwards' incendiary debut novel.

Read more: The perfect reads for your book club

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo (2022)

Ayanna Lloyd Banwo has already won comparisons to Arundhati Roy with her enthralling debut novel, When We Were Birds. Set in Port Angeles, this unconventional love story bridges the unlikely worlds of the living and the dead, as reluctant gravedigger Darwin attempts to make peace with his absent father as Yejide, a grieving young woman, tries to understand her late mother. Banwo conjures atmosphere and magic - all good things to connect over. 

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

A book that will make you feel connected even if you don't have a book group to discuss it with, Bonnie Garmus's triumphant debut is sunshine-in-a-bottle stuff. Unlikely heroine Elizabeth Zott is a mid-century pioneer purely through knowing he own mind, and knowing what she doesn't like. When she applies her scientific knowledge to the domestic expectations of her era, an explosion occurs - and you'll be hard-pushed not to get swept along in the action.

Working less and living more

If you've considered a new way of working this year - perhaps by going freelance, cutting down your hours or finding a new career entirely - then you're not alone. So many people have been leaving their jobs to try new kinds of living that the term "The Great Resignation" has been coined. Fancy joining them? Here are some books to help. 

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss (2020)

It sounds too good to be true, but early-stage tech investor and author Timothy Ferriss knows working less and earning more is possible because he's done it: and now you can too. The 4-Hour Work Week offers a step-by-step guide to living the life you want, with more than 50 tips and tricks and case studies from people who have made the switch, plus real-world templates to cut out what slows you down.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman (2021)

Certain titles conjure such excitement that they richocet around the Penguin offices - and Burkeman's bestselling look at time and how to make the most of it was certainly one of them last year.  The author takes a hard truth: that the average person will have 4,000 weeks on earth, and refers to the guidance of ancient philosophers, Benedictine monks, artists and authors, Scandinavian social reformers and renegade Buddhist technologists among others to examine how best to spend them. Doing something useless and time-consuming? You may never consider it again after reading this book.

How To Save It by Bola Sol (2021)

In principle, saving money is simple. In reality, it's often a lot more difficult than that. In this concise, useful book, financial expert and podcaster Bola Sol spells out a route to saving security, starting with those tough conversations - and how to have them - and moving into more advanced money matters such as investing. Want a better relationship with your cash in 2022? This is the book to get there.

Read more: Books to help you become financially independent, so you can retire early


What did you think of this article? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and let us know.

Image: Rebecca Hendin for Penguin

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