The 13 Best Women's Fiction Books Of 2022

We really are living in the golden age of content, and it is more clear than ever in the books that were published in 2022. From phenomenal debut novels to highly-anticipated follow-ups from renowned authors, readers of women's fiction, in particular, have experienced an incredible year of literature.

It can be hard to navigate the hundreds of thousands of books that come out each and every year, so we've created this list to highlight some of the absolute best women's fiction releases of 2022. In our opinion, these are seriously must-reads. Whether you're a fan of high-tension thrillers, time travel, mysteries, or steamy romances, we're confident that at least one of these novels will call to you.

If you've set a resolution to read more books in 2023 or are hoping to squeak in a few more novels before 2022 comes to a close, there is arguably no better way to spend some free time than with your nose in one of these great novels.

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Danya Kukafka isn't exactly new to the literary scene — she published her first book, "Girl in Snow," back in 2017; however, her 2022 release, "Notes on an Execution," is what's really put her on the literary map. A gripping, unique look at the psyche of a serial killer told through the perspectives of three women whose lives have become permanently altered by his actions, this novel is a fascinating addition to the thriller genre, which has become somewhat monotonous.

In an interview with Write or Die Magazine, Kukafka explained that this book was largely born out of her own contempt for crime stories that glorify serial killers and erase their victims' from the narrative. Speaking of popular crime shows (such as "Law & Order: SVU" and "Criminal Minds") specifically, she said, "I felt like, this cannot possibly be the whole story. We see this narrative over and over again. The show opens on the dead body, the detectives come in, they solve the murder, justice is served. Even as a teenager I had the thought, like, what about everybody else?"

"Notes on an Execution" aims to answer this question by focusing on the lives that are impacted by acts of violence rather than the violent acts themselves.

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

In their most recent novel, Akwaeke Emezi ventures away from their usual genre of choice (young adult) into romance for the very first time, and the result is a beautiful and complex portrait of love, loss, and healing. "You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" tells the story of Feyi, a young woman attempting to navigate the dating scene while grieving the loss of her late husband. This book is sexy, moving, and magnificently written — if you're someone who typically avoids romance novels at all costs, this may be the one to change your mind about the genre.

Much like thrillers, romance books tend to be pretty homogenous in terms of their characters, plot, and structure. While talking to Marie Claire back in May, Emezi described the realization that their romance didn't have to follow any rules that they didn't want it to. "It [reading newer romance books] also helped me realize that I could write a romance the way that I wanted to, and give myself the permission to write without trying to make it fit convention," Emezi explained. "You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" is certainly an unconventional romance, and that's what makes it so outstanding.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Deemed one of the 100 most notable books of the year by The New York Times, Gabrielle Zevin's "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" is a one-of-a-kind story about the spectacular bond between two lifelong friends who find themselves dominating the video game design industry. Sam and Sadie's relationship has revolved around video games since the day they first met back when they were only 11 years old, and this continues to be the case decades later as they collaborate on the creation of blockbuster-level games.

What appears to be a straightforward story about friendship flawlessly delves into topics of disability, grief, and even cultural appropriation, all told in Zevin's stunning, accessible voice. "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" is Zevin's 10th book and, it's any indication of what we can expect from her in the future, her writing is only going to keep getting better. It's really no wonder that this novel was chosen as the best fiction book of 2022 by the Goodreads Choice Awards.

The Maid by Nita Prose

The Goodreads 2022 Choice Awards winner for Best Mystery and Thriller, Nita Prose's "The Maid," is a story around a hotel maid, Molly Gray, who finds herself the lead suspect in the murder investigation of a man whose body she discovered while working. Molly has had a hard time reading social cues for as long as she can remember, but she's always been able to tune out bullies and go about her quaint, happy life — until the police investigating the murder misread her awkwardness for guilt.

This is a heartwarming debut that has humanity at its core, and it's a mystery that you will love to uncover alongside Molly. As Prose said in an interview with Rakuten Kobo, "I wanted the story to be a journey of the spirit, to be uplifting. ... I found that I could very quickly reveal to the reader that we are in the world of the mystery and then slowly scene by scene evolve them to understand that this was going to be also a journey of growth."

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

In her debut novel, "Black Cake," Charmaine Wilkerson tells the heartwarming story of two siblings grappling with their mother's death and the confusing, life-altering gift they inherited from her. In this story, Benny and Byron are taken on a journey that leads them across the world and back to their mother's famous black cake, a Caribbean classic, in search of the truth about the woman who raised them.

This story was actually inspired by the black cake recipe that belonged to Wilkerson's late mother and, according to the author, her book expresses the idea that "the handling of food counts as much as the eating of it" (per Parade). As she told BookPage, "The cake symbolizes the history of this family, in which the children, who are now grown, really don't know the half of what their parents went through."

This is a story that anybody can relate to, and it is an absolute pleasure to read, even as it explores the profound and painful topics of grief and loss.

Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake

In 2022, it was undoubtedly time for there to be more queer representation in the romance genre — and we got exactly that from Ashley Herring Blake's novel, "Delilah Green Doesn't Care." In this book, which was a 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for Best Romance, Delilah and Claire find love in the last place they expected — their small hometown, which holds painful memories for both of them. This is a touching romance that has all of the best elements of a rom-com but also explores much more than just one couple's love story — it touches on the importance of friendship, family, and loving yourself above all else.

When asked by Stuck in Fiction what she hopes readers take away from this novel, Blake answered, "I hope that readers see the complexity and beauty of queer life, friends, and family. ... I also hope they see this book as a queer romance that everyone can and should read, not only queer audiences." We agree, and we recommend this book to anybody who enjoys reading romance.

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

This is the only young adult book on this list, but it's such an impactful story that we just had to include it. Sabaa Tahir's "All My Rage" is about grief, loss, forgiveness, and strength. Even though it's told from a younger perspective than the other titles on this list, the emotions it captures are as complex and powerful as those within the rest of these books.

Told through alternating perspectives of two teenage best friends, Salahudin and Noor, "All My Rage" is a portrait of intergenerational trauma and the racism that is perpetuated in the small, white-washed town of Juniper, California. This novel is largely inspired by Tahir's own childhood, which she discussed in an interview with Elle. "It really started as a book about the motel where I grew up and the people who were tenants there, and then it transformed and became a book about the people who ran the motel," she said. "Then in 2017, after someone I knew overdosed on fentanyl and passed away, it started becoming a book about trauma and addiction."

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Science Fiction, "Sea of Tranquility" is Emily St. John Mandel's much-anticipated follow-up to "Station Eleven." A mystical and tender story that centers around time travel and the simulation theory, this novel is one that even those who aren't particularly interested in science fiction can find enjoyable. The author's captivating voice comes through clearly in this book, and even if that's what originally draws you in, the emphasis on human connection and compassion is what will convince you to stay.

Mandel had just started writing this book before the pandemic started, and the worldwide tragedy came to really influence this story's evolution. Don't let that scare you away, though. As Mandel told an interviewer for Esquire, "I see 'Sea of Tranquility' as very much a product of the pandemic in that way. It's a book I don't think I would've written, if not for this weird time that we've all just lived through. That being said, it's not a bleak book. There's a lot of humor and joy in there, I hope."

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Emily Henry is undoubtedly one of the biggest romance authors at the moment, and her May release, "Book Lovers," is a charming, clever love story between two unlikely characters that proves exactly why she's garnered such stardom in the world of books. Nora and Charlie are self-established, independent bookworms who definitely aren't looking for love, but when the two repeatedly stumble into one another while Nora is on a girls' trip with her sister, they decide that maybe it's time to surrender to fate.

Simultaneously lighthearted and profound, this novel is an incredible exploration of its two main characters — their pain, fears, and love. As Henry said in an interview with Scary Mommy, "I don't really know how to get into characters' heads without figuring out the worst thing that's ever happened to them. ... There were so many drafts of 'Book Lovers' just trying to get it to feel funny enough and light enough while still having these heavier moments." With the popular "Beach Read" and "People We Meet on Vacation" already under her belt, Henry is at the top of her game with "Book Lovers" — the hype is absolutely real.

Other People's Clothes by Calla Henkel

Calla Henkel's debut novel, "Other People's Clothes," is a modern, fresh take on the classic thriller, and it's one of the most fun, unique books we've read this year. Zoe, traumatized from the recent murder of her best friend, escapes to Berlin to study abroad and (hopefully) begin to heal. She becomes friends with another exchange student and shortly after, the two move into an apartment run by an eccentric landlord who's a renowned thriller writer. They soon begin to suspect that they are the subjects of her next story, and their lives are forever changed because of it.

"The characters of my novel all feed on aspiration, a want to become something, performing versions of themselves in a hall of mirrors, hoping to catch the truth," Henkel wrote of her book in iNews. If you enjoy a slow burn, "Other People's Clothes" is a thriller centered around fame, murder, and grief that will take you on a journey you will never expect, even as you're reading it.

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Surprisingly, this is the second time-travel novel on this list, but this one revolves less around science and theory than "Sea of Tranquility." Emma Straub's "This Time Tomorrow" is a twist on "13 Going on 30" that digs a lot deeper than the classic 2004 film. Funny and tender, this novel is as endearing as it is heartbreaking, mainly focusing on the painful and complicated experience of grieving someone who hasn't yet passed.

In "This Time Tomorrow," Straub navigates a situation near and dear to her heart — her father was hospitalized during the pandemic with a heart condition, and seeing him in such physical distress took a big toll on her. As the author shared with NPR, "Writing is such a powerful way of getting inside your feelings, at least for me, in a way that I don't really have access to in another way." She continued, saying, "I know how much time the loved ones really have to sit with the inevitability of their loved one's death. And I certainly did that with my dad while I was working on 'This Time Tomorrow.'"

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

Nina LaCour's first venture into adult fiction, "Yerba Buena," is an incredibly touching story of pain, grief, and healing told through the love story of two young women. Sara and Emilie have been carrying trauma and pain for their entire lives, so it isn't easy for them to trust one another — even though their instant connection is undeniable and intense. This book is heartbreaking yet thoroughly hopeful, and it will take you on a roller coaster of emotions as you watch two resilient characters grow through their struggles toward love.

"Yerba Buena" is another novel that encompasses both literary fiction and romance, and it's the perfect story to help you ease into the romance genre if that's one you usually keep at arm's length. Also, this book has incredible queer representation, which LaCour talks about in an interview with Bustle. "This book is one tiny element of queerness and what it means and what all of that encompasses. I think of it as a prism, and I love being one little part of it in this book. Queer love is so expansive, and I think one of the amazing things about it is when we're writing stories that don't begin with the assumption of straightness and just a cis-gendered, heterosexual relationship, then we have so many possibilities, right?"

Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow

Tara M. Stringfellow's debut, "Memphis," is a gorgeous historical fiction novel that tells an important, relevant story of intergenerational trauma, freedom, and womanhood. After escaping her father's violence, Joan, her mother, and her younger sister take refuge in Memphis, living in the house that her grandfather built before he was murdered. While navigating the grief that's been passed down her family for centuries, Joan discovers that she already has access to everything she needs to heal, and she begins to turn to the women in her life for the wisdom she can now recognize that they hold.

"Memphis" was influenced by Stringfellow's musings on her own family's fraught relationship with the United States. As she told The Independent, "We have to live in this country with white folk wearing these hats telling us, basically, to go back to Africa, that the last time this country was great was when we were enslaved. It was maddening. I didn't know what else to do: it was write 'Memphis' or set fire to my country."