Jennifer Egan's triumphant Goon Squad return, two(!) time-traveling novels, and more unmissable reads of the mid-year.
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Books are magic. (In fact, one author on this list co-owns a storefront in Brooklyn that clearly agrees.) But there are also far more of them than any lover of literature can possibly have time for.

Below, EW has narrowed this year's offerings so far down to an unranked list of 10 great reads, from high-concept novels and intimate essay collections to a poetic children's book — and a few more bonus picks for the road.

Vladimir by Julia May Jones
Credit: Simon and Schuster

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas

"When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me." So begins this deliciously transgressive debut, a novel whose opening lines (not to mention the Nabakovian name in the title) seem to portend some kind of flipped Lolita. In fact, the girl — actually a 58-year-old professor with a stagnant marriage and a stymied writing career — can't help it: When she meets Vladimir, the new Adonis-like hire on campus, a consuming obsession is born. The lengths the unnamed narrator will go to to win the 40-year-old object of her affection actually turns out to be the least interesting thing in Jonas's diamond-cut study of academia, aging, and the furious absurdity of being a woman in the world. —Leah Greenblatt

'The Candy House,' by Jennifer Egan
Credit: Scribner

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

It makes a weird sort of sense that a book that felt like lightning when it landed would somehow manage to strike twice. Eleven years after A Visit From the Goon Squad, the kaleidoscopic novel-in-stories (and also in PowerPoint) that won Jennifer Egan a Pulitzer Prize and a place on umpteen bookshelves, she returned with its sensational, mind-altering sequel. Candy both refracts and expands the Goon Squad multiverse of tech lords, rogue professors, punk-rock kids and suburban tennis moms, as surreal and funny and transcendent as the last. —LG

Trust by Hernan Diaz
Credit: Penguin

Trust by Hernan Diaz

Trust's title might strictly refer to the financial term, but as a verb, it won't you serve you to believe a thing in Diaz's Rashamon-like tale of an early Wall Street tycoon and his troubled, aristocratic bride. Diaz — whose 2017 debut, In the Distance, earned him a Pulitzer nod — explores one man's ruthless pursuit of capital in four distinct forms (a novel, a manuscript, a memoir, a diary), though the classic Great Man narrative itself turns out to be a Trojan horse for something far more feminist, subversive, and strange. (HBO just announced that Kate Winslet is producing and starring in a limited series adaptation.) —LG

Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Credit: Knopf

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

A disgraced British blue blood is exiled to the wilds of Canada in 1912; a young widow goes to see the composer brother of an old friend in circa-2020 Manhattan; a near-future novelist endures the banal horrors of a book tour; and a 25th-century scientist explores the possibility that it's all, in fact, an elaborate simulation. Sea can be seen as sequel of sorts to 2020's The Glass Hotel, but Emily St. John Mandel's slim metaphysical novel stands on its own, too: a story like a tone poem, uncannily lovely and profound. —LG

Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Credit: Riverhead Books

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

If you could be 16 again, would you? Emma Straub, the queen of the smart-girl summer read, takes that question literally in her light-footed latest about a Manhattanite whose drab midlife — a placeholder boyfriend, an ailing father, a low-level admin job at her private-school alma mater — is hardly where she thought she'd be on the cusp of 40. When a sort of phantom tollbooth allows her to go back in time to her high school body, the book becomes a breezy but surprisingly poignant meditation on romance, regret, and family. (And inevitably, peak fashion trends of the late '90s.) —LG

Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Credit: Penguin Press

Run Towards the Danger by Sarah Polley

Now working mostly as a screenwriter and director—Women Talking, starring Frances McDormand, is due later this year — the Toronto-born Polley became an unlikely teen star via the TV series Avonlea and films like Go and The Sweet Hereafter. It turns out she is also an excellent excavator of her own past, in these six intimate essays that touch on everything from her treacherous time on an unhinged Terry Gilliam movie set to a high-risk pregnancy and #MeToo reckonings.  —LG

Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Credit: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero

BEST CHILDREN'S BOOK

Gorgeous illustrations, poetic prose, and a relatable protagonist make Deborah Marcero's tale the kind that you can return to again and again. Featuring Llewellyn, the same rabbit from her 2020 picture book In a Jar, this new story tackles the trouble this little bunny has with managing his emotions. As he tries to shove every overwhelming feeling away in a jar, his strategy eventually backfires when the jars accidentally break and all those big emotions come pouring out anyway. He finally realizes that it's only by dealing with his feelings that he can set himself free. Along with vibrant illustrations detailing Llewellyn's struggles, Marcero handles these complex emotional topics in a way that's easy for kids to understand — and parents to enjoy. —Lauren Morgan

Romance Books 2022 A Caribbean Heiress in Paris
Credit: HQN

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera

BEST ROMANCE

We're huge Adriana Herrera fans here at EW, but A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is her lushest, best work yet. Set in 1889, the novel follows heiress Luz Alana as she travels from her home in Santo Domingo to the World Exposition in Paris. Luz has plans to expand her family's rum business, even if her inheritance is barred from her until she marries. But when she meets whisky purveyor James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick, the two find their spirited attraction could also make for the perfect business partnership and marriage of convenience. Herrera excels at propelling the romance genre and its form forward, and this book is no exception. While Hollywood can still only figure out how to cast diverse faces in white source material, Herrera is crafting swoony historical romances that aren't afraid to engage with the realities of the 19th-century while still making a bid for hard-earned happily-ever-afters. —Maureen Lee Lenker

X-Men Red
Credit: Marvel

X-Men Red by Al Ewing and Stefano Caselli

BEST COMICS

Last year, the X-Men terraformed Mars. A group of Marvel's most powerful mutants combined their abilities to make the red planet breed lush vegetation and picaresque lakes. With the first three issues of X-Men Red, Ewing and Caselli have maximized the story potential of that development by showing how familiar characters like Storm and Magneto have been changed by the new Martian landscape while also introducing brand-new characters to populate this new mutant society. Each issue manages to be more thrilling than the last, and we can't wait to see where it will go next. —Christian Holub

Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Credit: Razorbill

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

BEST YA

Growing up in a small (and small-minded) California desert town, high school seniors and best friends Noor and Salahudin navigate love and loss, all the while wondering whether their dimming hopes for the future have any chance of survival. The first-person prose vibrates with adolescent intensity — of grief, desire, and above all, searing rage — as Tahir's young heroes are faced with grown-up choices they feel ill-equipped to make. But equipped they are: with poetry, music, tradition, and their capacity to love. Beneath all that teenage fury, there's even more devastating tenderness. —Mary Sollosi

More recommendations: Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart; The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan; Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez; Tracy Flick Can't Win by Tom Perotta; The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker; Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo; In Love by Amy Bloom; I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home by Jamie Attenberg; What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart; Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong; Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James.

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