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The Best Books to Read in December

'Tis the season to give, and this month's 11 top titles include new work from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, a South African bestseller and a new Tom Clancy adventure / BY Nathalie Atkinson / December 2nd, 2022

Between wrapping gifts and servings of eggnog, there’s a great read waiting for you. Adrenaline-fuelled thrillers, historical sagas, and engrossing literary heart warmers are among our picks of December’s best new fiction.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Tom Clancy: Red Winter by Marc Cameron

As the third season of Jack Ryan premieres this month (on Prime Video, Dec. 21), the action-thriller series based on the late Tom Clancy’s indelible character resumes on the page. A prequel of sorts, the latest in the bestselling continuation novels (now written by a retired U.S. Marshal from Alaska) rewinds to the final period of the Cold War with the further youthful adventures of CIA analyst Ryan, who goes behind the Iron Curtain when he’s assigned to help a rookie officer embroiled with a would-be defector. (Dec. 6)

2The Easy Lifeby Marguerite Duras

First published in 1944, but  appearing now for the first time in English, this short second novel by the French literary icon (The Lover, Hiroshima Mon Amour) tracks a woman’s difficult time with a claustrophobic rural family life, and her later disillusionment. It’s a raw and introspective look inside a young woman’s breakdown. (Dec. 6)

3The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

The Vermont-raised writer’s critically acclaimed Good Morning, Midnight formed the basis of George Clooney’s 2020 science fiction film The Midnight Sky (on Netflix). Her new literary novel is firmly in the ever-expending genre of climate fiction, and unfolds in four thematic sections: power, water, light, and time. The unique structure mirrors protagonist Wanda’s journey from childhood to adulthood in hurricane-addled Florida, and paints a portrait of humanity’s complicated relationship with nature and the escalating ecological crisis over the course of a generation. (Dec. 6)

4A Dangerous Businessby Jane Smiley

The Pulitzer Prize winner (A Thousand Acres) returns with a gripping yarn in the murder-mystery vein, set at a brothel during the 1850s gold rush in California. The amateur sleuths are a pair of savvy young sex workers who, after girls begin to go missing, slyly investigate their working class and elite clientele. It’s as lyrical as the California writer’s previously expansive pastoral works, and rich with historical detail that conjures the grubby living conditions of the lawless era. (Dec. 6)

5Terra Novaby Henriette Lazaridis

Boston-based Lazaridis’ historical adventure was inspired by Robert Scott’s ill-fated 1910 expedition to the South Pole. The novel, set in the same year, is about two fictional Antarctic explorers, one of whom is married to Violet, a photographer and suffragette determined to push womens rights forward in London. When she develops dubious photographs of their polar expedition, questions about boasts, accomplishments and the subjective nature of truth come into play. (Dec. 6)

6Fake Money, Blue Smokeby Josh Haven

Enthusiastically endorsed by thriller maestro Lee Child, Haven’s debut is a pulsing caper with a set-up that reads like an Ocean’s movie: an ex-con paroled in upstate New York emerges to find his ex-girlfriend waiting for him in the parking lot. She’s a skilled counterfeit artist and needs help with just one last elaborately planned heist – robbing artwork from a speeding Amtrak train. The Florida-based former art critic has previously written seafaring adventures under a pseudonym; with his first crime novel, Publishers Weekly rightly calls him a “promising new talent.” (Dec. 6)

7The Sunshine Girlsby Molly Fader

A famous movie star walks into a funeral for a former nursing-school administrator, and when two estranged sisters get over the shock and question her presence, they discover their mother’s hidden past. Told in alternating points of view and time periods, between a nursing school in the tumultuous late 1960s and near-present day, this novel charts the intensity of a decades-long female friendship. It also explores and honours the nursing profession—inspired by Toronto-based Fader’s mother – and its role as one of the few accessible career paths and opportunities for financial independence available to women at the time. (Dec. 6)

8Showstopperby Peter Lovesey

The venerable West Sussex mystery writer, 86, drops detective Peter Diamond into the backstage drama between cast and crew of a beleaguered television production, a hit British show called Swift. Suspicious on-set injuries escalate and members of the production go missing in a fictional composite of familiar murder shows that’s so vividly drawn, I almost expected to find it on BritBox. It’s fresh, wry and enjoyably suspenseful. (Dec. 6)

9Scatterlingsby Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe

South African couple Abram and Alisa’s marriage is criminalized in 1927 when the country passes the Immorality Act, prohibiting sexual relations between white Europeans and Black people. Through dreamlike journal entries and ancestral myth, this wrenching novel explores Alisa’s Caribbean heritage as a descendant of slaves and quest for belonging amid segregationist policies. Since its 2020 publication in South Africa, this work by a poet and chemical engineer based in Cape Town has become the most awarded debut in the countrys history. (Dec. 13)

10The Book of Everlasting Thingsby Aanchal Malhotra

Delhi-based oral historian Malhotra, who also traces family histories through objects, makes a buzzy literary debut with the story of a Hindu perfumers apprentice, Samir, and a Muslim calligraphers apprentice, Firdaus, who fall in love in Lahore the years leading up to Indias Partition in 1947, then are torn apart. The engrossing saga of longing, pain and partition spans more than a century and covers the entwined fates of two lovers and their families. (Dec. 27)

11The Lipstick Bureauby Michelle Gable

The San Diego-based author of The Bookseller’s Secret and the New York Times bestseller A Paris Apartment offers a unique vantage point on unsung Second World War heroes, with a protagonist inspired by Barbara Lauwers, a Czech American lawyer who joined the U.S. Army and was recruited by the intelligence agency. The historical novel is set in Rome, among 4,500 women working in the secret morale branch for the Office of Strategic Services — a precursor to the CIA – creating and distributing propaganda to demoralize Hitler’s troops. (Dec. 27)


The Book Thief: An Italian Man’s Guilty Plea Ends a Caper That Puzzled the Literary World for YearsFilippo Bernardini’s elaborate phishing scam netted 1,000 unpublished manuscripts by prominent authors including Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan

The Late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison is Honoured with an American StampThe Obamas and Oprah Winfrey pay tribute to the writer whose poetic interpretations of the African American experience gained a world-wide audience

Five Canadian Writers Make the Long List for the Inaugural Carol Shields Prize for FictionThe US$150,000 English-language literary award for female and nonbinary writers redresses the inequality of women in the publishing world

The Furry Green Grump is Back in a Sequel to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”Dr. Seuss Enterprises will publish “How the Grinch Lost Christmas!” in September

Chris Hadfield to Publish a Sequel to His Blockbuster Debut, “The Apollo Murders,” on Oct. 10"The Defector” brings the Cold War intrigue from space to Earth as the Soviets and Americans race to develop fighter jets

Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ Continues to Break Worldwide RecordsThe book also seems to have put a dent in the popularity of members of the Royal Family — including the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Prince Harry’s Memoir Breaks U.K. Sales Record On First Day of ReleaseThe publisher of the new memoir, 'Spare", says it had sold 400,000 copies so far across hardback, e-book and audio formats.

Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2022The former U.S. president’s 13 titles include Canadians Emily St. John Mandel and Kate Beaton, as well as tomes from Michelle Obama, George Saunders and Jennifer Egan

Here are the 5 Books on Bill Gates’ Holiday Reading ListThe billionaire philanthropist is giving hundreds of copies to little libraries around the world

Sheila Heti and Eli Baxter Among 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award WinnersToronto writer Sheila Heti took home the fiction award for 'Pure Colour,' a novel the GG peer assessment committee called "a work of genius."

Suzette Mayr Wins $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for ‘The Sleeping Car Porter’The 2022 Giller Prize jury called Mayr's novel "alive and immediate — and eerily contemporary."

Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards: Authors Nicholas Herring, Dan Werb Nab Top PrizesThe Writers' Trust of Canada awards amounted to a combined monetary prize value of $270,000.

Bob Dylan Releases ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song,’ a Book of Essays Dissecting 66 Influential SongsIn his new book, Bob Dylan offers up both critique and historical insight into various musical recordings of the last century by a variety of popular artists.

Prince Harry’s Memoir ‘Spare’ Will Be Published in January 2023The long-awaited memoir will tell with "raw unflinching honesty" Prince Harry's journey from "trauma to healing", his publisher said on Thursday.

Sri Lankan Author Shehan Karunatilaka Wins 2022 Booker PrizeKarunatilaka won the prestigious prize on Monday for his second novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’, about a dead war photographer on a mission in the afterlife.

Canadian Council for the Arts Reveals Governor General’s Literary Awards FinalistsThe finalists for the Governor General's Literary Awards spotlight books in both the English and French language, as well as translated works.

New Penguin Random House Award Named After Michelle Obama Will Honour High School WritersMichelle Obama Award for Memoir will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a graduating public school senior based on their autobiographical submission.

French Author Annie Ernaux, 82, Becomes First French Woman to Win Nobel Prize for LiteratureThe author said, of winning, that "I was very surprised ... I never thought it would be on my landscape as a writer."

Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.

Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'

Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.

Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.

Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature

Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.

Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.

Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.

Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”

Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956

Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."

The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.

American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history

Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."

New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.

Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.

Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."

European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."

Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.

Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.

Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.

Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro

“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.

Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories

Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel

South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 

Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards

Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde

Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 

Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations

Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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