2022 Hidden Gems Book Tournament

16 book covers

UPDATE: We have a champion! Emma's pick, Mika in Real Life, was voted our top Hidden Gem of 2022. Congratulations, Emma!

16 books. 16 champions. 1 winner. Discover the best books you might have missed when our book-lovin' library staff go head-to-head to champion their favourite read of 2022. You get to decide who makes the most convincing appeal to Burlington readers during this eight-day literary round-robin tournament.

How It Works

Every day, from December 5 to 19, we'll post two book pitches on our Instagram and Twitter pages.

Watch the short videos, and vote using the poll feature. You can vote yes for one, both, or neither book. The book with more "YES" votes each day goes on to Round 2. We'll repeat this process for four rounds until we are left with one final Hidden Gems 2022 winner!

Do you really love a book and want to make sure it sees the next round? Share our social media posts with your friends so they can vote too. 

The Books & Their Champions

Check out what each defender has to say about their favourite read. And don't forget to follow us @BurlONLibrary on social media in December to hear more! Which hidden gems will YOU pick to read?

Round One Winners

The following champions and their titles made it on to Round Two:

  • Denise's pick,The Mountain In The Sea by Ray Nayler
  • Emma's pick, Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean
  • Lita's pick, Hope and Glory by Jendella Benson
  • Tammy's pick, The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson
  • Jamie's pick, Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins
  • Kumkum's pick, The Long Weekend by Gilly MacMillan
  • Meg's pick, A Lady's Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin
  • Heather's pick, The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Round Two Winners

The following champions and their titles made it on to Round Three:

  • Emma's pick, Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean
  • Tammy's pick, The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson
  • Kumkum's pick, The Long Weekend by Gilly MacMillan
  • Meg's pick, A Lady's Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Round Three Winners

The following champions and their titles have made it on to our Round Four championship:

  • Emma's pick, Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean
  • Kumkum's pick, The Long Weekend by Gilly MacMillan

Hope and Glory by Jendella Benson - Lita Barrie, CEO

A heartfelt debut by British Nigerian author Jendella Benson. Glory Akindele returns to London from her seemingly glamorous life in Los Angeles to mourn the sudden death of her father, only to find her previously close family has fallen apart in her absence. Channelling her energy into holding together a perfect suburban family, Glory discovers sometimes you need to come home to find what you are searching for.

Borrow Hope and Glory

The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan - Kumkum Bhandari

Ready for a quick, twisty psychological thriller with some heart-thudding suspense? Grab Gillian Macmillan’s "The Long Weekend." Three women travel to a remote getaway ahead of their husbands, only to discover a note on arrival - one of their husbands will be killed. No cell service, no easy way to contact the men, a brewing storm, and isolation has the women panicked. Who is the target?  Expect red herrings, unsavoury characters, dark secrets, and cutting betrayals. Will you be able to solve this crime before it races to a nail-biting finish? Perfect for fans of A. J. Finn, Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

Borrow The Long Weekend

Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean - Emma Burkholder

Imagine this: you just got fired from your dead-end job, you live with your best friend, who is a hoarder, and your last relationship ended in a dumpster fire. Then, one day your phone rings, and it’s the daughter you gave up for adoption when you were eighteen. "Mika in Real Life" is a story of motherhood, friendship, trauma, forgiveness, and identity. This book reads like a zany early 2000s rom-com, giving off warm and fuzzy feel-good vibes. Touching on difficult topics of adoption and rape, it strikes the perfect balance between light humour and raw emotional depth.

Borrow Mika in Real Life

The Lost Ticket by Freya Sampson - Tammy Csajaghy

If you hopped on a city bus, heartbroken and alone, and found yourself sitting next to an elderly gentleman who tells you his tale of lost love—a tale that has him riding this same bus for 60 years, hoping to meet the woman he met in 1962, a woman that changed his life—would you offer to help him find her? For 29-year-old Libby, the answer is a definite ‘yes’! "The Lost Ticket" features three intertwined stories—all linked to bus route 88—with quirky characters, surprising twists, and powerful moments where friends become family.

Borrow The Lost Ticket

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy - James Dekens

The story is about Bobby Western, a salvage diver in New Orleans in the 1980s and the diverse cast of characters he meet. McCarthy has a unique writing style—most characters are introduced through realistic dialogue. He doesn't use quotation marks and mimics how people actually speak. Once you get used to it, this style is immersive. This is Pulitzer Prize-winner Cormac McCarthy's first book since 2006 and is likely one of his last books as well.

Borrow The Passenger

Lease on Love by Fallon Ballard - Brynley Eckhart

Swipe right for a… roommate?! Meet Sadie, a late 20-something who was set to advance at work until she spoke her mind and wound up without a job. And Jack, a grieving 30-something who has turned into a recluse. Add in roommate app, which, through beer goggles, looks a lot like a dating app, and a group of supportive friends. You get a new “lease on love” in this engaging rom-com. Together Jack and Sadie push boundaries and overcome obstacles while dealing with emotional baggage and trauma. The characters end up with love and family, and a very unique meet-cute!

Borrow Lease on Love

Hide by Kiersten White - Jasmine Foster

What would you do for fifty thousand dollars? Hide presents a unique challenge for fourteen contestants: remain concealed for one week in an abandoned amusement park for a chance to win the prize. However, what begins as solo competition quickly changes as competitors start to disappear mysteriously. The survivors must learn how to trust each other and stick together to remain alive. Themes of community, trauma, racism, and homophobia intricately develop the characters in this fast-paced and gripping thriller. In contrast to some gruesome details and an eerie setting, readers are gifted with an optimistic viewpoint on human healing and the importance of connection.

Borrow Hide

Metropolis by B.A. Shapiro - Frances Hanemaayer

Combine the quirky, yet likeable personalities of a Fredrik Backman novel with the intertwining arcs of an Agatha Christie whodunnit. Now, set the whole thing inside the confines of a self-storage complex in Massachusetts. "Metropolis" follows six characters whose lives—and futures—are inextricably linked to the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse. This place serves as their employer, investment property, law office, photography studio, refuge, and secret hideout. When one of the cast is found dead under suspicious circumstances, the storage unit doors are thrown open, bringing to light all the secrets inside.

Borrow Metropolis

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach - Dee Henderson

This is a story of love and loss. It’s not a happy tale. It will not leave you smiling, eagerly turning each page. If you have ever lost someone close to you, every page will remind you of that time—when you are stuck in an awkward void where time moves on but also stays frozen on the day you lost that beloved person. Sally Holt was a passenger in the car crash that killed her older sister, and this novel is a love letter from the little sister who now has to grow up alone. Both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Borrow Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins - Jamie Lee

Readers will fall in love with Lillie as she navigates her only son moving off to college and her husband abruptly leaving her for a younger model. Told in alternating chapters, we get to know both Lillie and the 'other woman.' Filled with surprising moments, compelling characters, and laugh-out-loud antics, readers won't want it to end!

Borrow Out of the Clear Blue Sky

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler - Denise MacIntosh

This near-future philosophical sci-fi thriller explores the concept of consciousness and self-awareness through the discovery of a highly intelligent octopus colony. Major tech corporations seek to profit from the octopuses, while Marine biologist Dr. Ha Nguyen's research team aims to learn from them. But no one has yet asked the octopuses what they think—or what they might do about it. Follow along for a gripping, insightful take on human nature.

Borrow The Mountain in the Sea

The Circus Train by Amita Parikh - Deepti Mahajan

Described as a cross between "Night Circus" and "Water for Elephants," this novel is a beautiful historical fiction debut by a Canadian author. Lena is the daughter of the headlining illusionist, Theo, of the travelling World of Wonders Circus. She had polio as a child, uses a wheelchair, and feels limited by her disability. When they shelter a Jewish stowaway, Alexandre, their lives change. It's full of action and adventure, love and loss, found family and coming of age. Set with the backdrop of a circus, trains, and World War II, this story delivers unforgettable characters.

Borrow The Circus Train

Upgrade by Blake Crouch - Sarah Troop

What if humanity’s only hope for a future lies in re-engineering our genetic makeup? Meet Logan. His DNA has been genetically modified by his mother, who faked her death after killing 2 million people in a failed attempt to genetically modify food. Logan and his sister Kara have both been turned into superhumans by their mother. While Kara is interested in carrying on her mother’s work of altering the human race, Logan sees far too many flaws in this plan. Enter the fight to alter humanity. Who will get to it first? What version will win? Will humanity be saved?

Borrow Upgrade

A Lady's Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin - Meg Uttangi Matsos

Bridgerton fans, this one's for you! A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting takes you into the world of Regency England as Kitty Talbot tries to navigate London society. She must land a husband and the fortune she so desperately needs to save her family from ruin! It’s a sharp page-turner with entertaining and enchanting characters and a satisfying ending.

Borrow A Lady's Guide to Fortune Hunting

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak - Cody Vanderslot

Mallory is trying to get her life back on track—and what better place to do that than Spring Brook, New Jersey, as a nanny for 5-year-old Teddy. Teddy loves to draw. As his drawings become more detailed and sinister, Mallory starts to question if Teddy’s imaginary friend Anya is all that imaginary. The eerie setting of this gripping, supernatural suspense novel will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Borrow Hidden Pictures

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan - Heather Westhaver

Young Chinese-American single mother, Frida Liu, is struggling. The state has its eye on mothers like Frida: the ones who let their children get injured on the playground or walk home alone. After a moment of poor judgment, her daughter is taken away, and Frida is jailed for a year. She is expected to care for a robot life-like baby who monitors her every move. This enthralling dystopian drama makes complex points about parenting with depth and feeling. This book will be difficult to put down for anyone moved by "The Handmaid’s Tale," "1984," or "A Clockwork Orange."

Borrow The School for Good Mothers

Looking for More Hidden Gems?

Check out the books that were championed in our 2022, 2021 and 2020 tournaments—all winners in our view—to add to your 2023 reading list!

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