Books shortlisted for the Big Read 2022

We're pleased to announce the shortlist for the Big Read 2022. The shortlist, which is drawn from books recommended by students and staff, is comprised of a range of titles from UK publishers and includes a variety of topics – including environmentalism, LGBTQIA+ experiences and the journey of cultural self-discovery.

Each new undergraduate and postgraduate student starting at Kingston University in September 2022 will receive a free copy of this year's special edition Kingston University Big Read title over the summer, in time for the start of their course.

Book cover: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
by Hank Green

After a chance encounter with a giant art installation piece nicknamed ‘Carl', April May becomes an internet sensation overnight. Addicted to this newfound fame she is pulled into the world of social media, and when ‘Carl's are found all over the world she begins to dig deeper into their origin. Could they be from another planet?

  • Publisher: Hachette – Trapeze
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • About the Author: Hank Green is an American author, vlogger and podcaster. He and his brother John Green started out with ‘Vlogbrothers' in 2007 and since then the pair have raised over $10M for charities with The Project for Awesome. Hank has also launched a number of businesses that aim to help creators and communities.

by Chibundu Onuzo

When Anna's mother dies she discovers a hidden journal from 1970s London written by a man she has never met – her father. In the midst of a divorce and dealing with the changing relationship she has with her daughter, Anna decides it's time to learn about herself. But Anna's journey to Bamana to meet her father may prove more shocking than expected.

  • Publisher: Virago
  • Genre: Fiction
  • About the Author: Dr. Chibundu Onuzo was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1991. She has two other novels ‘The Spider King's Daughter' and ‘Welcome to Lagos', the first of which won a Betty Trask Award, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize for Literature and the Desmond Elliot Prize.
Book cover: Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo
Book cover: Bring Back the King by Helen Pilcher

Bring Back the King
by Helen Pilcher

On a quest to find the perfect de-extinction candidate, Helen analyses several different species ranging from dinosaurs to passenger pigeons. As de-extinction becomes a hotter topic, this book examines the possibility of bringing back mammoths, dodos and even Elvis Presley, with a healthy sprinkling of humour.

  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Genre: Science, Genetics
  • About the Author: Dr. Helen Pilcher is a science and comedy writer, author and presenter. Her book ‘Life Changing – How Humans are Altering Life on Earth,' was chosen as The Times 2020 Science Book of the Year. She was a stand-up comedian in her early career and now lives in the UK with her genetically modified wolf.

The Great Godden
by Meg Rosoff

The summer holidays get a lot more interesting with the arrival of the Godden brothers. Told by a teenage narrator whose name and gender are never revealed, this story explores British family dynamics and how they can be twisted by a single intruding personality.

  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Genre: Fiction
  • About the Author: Meg Rosoff grew up in Boston and moved to London in 1989. Her first novel, ‘How I Live Now', won the Printz Award and the Guardian Children's Prize and was made into a film. She has eight other novels which have been awarded or shortlisted for prizes such as the National Book Award and the Carnegie Medal.
Book cover: The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff
Book cover: Under Solomon Skies by Berni Sorga-Millwood

Under Solomon Skies
by Berni Sorga-Millwood

Based on a true story, childhood friends Jack and Toni are stranded in the ocean during a routine trip to a nearby island. While struggle to survive, Jack remembers the key decisions he has made in his life leading up until now and the impacts they've had. This novel explores environmentalism, culture, climate change and the human condition.

  • Publisher: Jacaranda
  • Genre: Fiction
  • About the Author: Berni Sorga-Millwood began her career as a children's book author and has since moved on to writing adult fiction. She studied at Goldsmiths and City Lit, and after living in London for many years relocated to Birmingham. She is currently working on her second novel.

The Gravity of Us
by Phil Stamper

Seventeen-year-old, social media journalist Cal is forced to move to Texas when his dad becomes an astronaut for NASA. There he meets the attractive and sensitive Leon. Will he be able to cope with the changes not only to his home and family, but to his dream?

  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Genre: Fiction
  • About the Author: KU alumnus and author Phil Stamper grew up in Dayton, Ohio and received his MA in Publishing with Creative Writing from Kingston University. His other novels include ‘As Far As You'll Take Me', ‘Hometown Pride' and ‘Golden Boys'. He now lives in New York City with his husband and dog.
Book cover: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Contact us

If you would like more information regarding the Kingston University Big Read, please contact us at

Alternatively for press information, please contact the Kingston University Communications team.