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Seth Landman

NBA Power Rankings

books ranking 2022

What better way to celebrate the beginning of the 2022–23 NBA season than by taking stock before it all begins? Let’s do that by ranking the 30 NBA teams from worst to best. 

These rankings are a snapshot in time; they’re how we feel about these teams before any games have been played. Don’t worry though: we’ll have lots of time to overreact, freak out and panic about our favorite teams once the season gets underway — and we’ll update these rankings accordingly. 

30. San Antonio Spurs

books ranking 2022

The Spurs have been heading toward a full rebuild for a few years now in the wake of trading Kawhi Leonard back in the summer of 2018. This offseason’s trade of Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks for a bevy of draft picks means we’re finally all the way there. The question that remains: how long will legendary coach Gregg Popovich stick around to see this rebuild through?

29. Houston Rockets

books ranking 2022

The Rockets happily scooped up Jabari Smith with the third overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft. Between him and last year’s promising rookies, Jalen Green and Alperen Şengün, the Rockets have three players in place with a ton of talent and the right positional fit. Keep an eye on veteran shooting guard Eric Gordon — he’s a useful player on a short-term contract, and could be the next Rockets’ player to get traded.

28. Utah Jazz

books ranking 2022

The Utah Jazz have now traded arguably their three best players from last season’s roster in Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic. New CEO Danny Ainge is famous for his boldness in rebuilding NBA rosters, so look for players like Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson to be the next to go. In the meantime, the Jazz will lose a ton of regular season games and hope for the highest draft pick possible next season.

27. Charlotte Hornets

books ranking 2022

For some reason, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas seem to believe the Hornets are going to be a little better than this, but I’ve got the Hornets right alongside the Indiana Pacers as the worst team in the East this season. The Hornets have some nice pieces in LaMelo Ball, P.J. Washington, Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward, but this was a bad defense last season and could be even worse this time around. Meanwhile, the rest of the East’s worst teams all got better.

26. Indiana Pacers

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Maybe it’s because I’m a believer in point guard Tyrese Haliburton, but I think the Pacers could surprise some folks this year . For now though, I’ll admit that the greater likelihood is that veteran players like Buddy Hield and Myles Turner get traded, sending this roster into a firm rebuilding period. Still, they’ll be fun to watch on offense with Haliburton’s great court vision surrounded by lots of good shooters. 

25. Oklahoma City Thunder

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News broke recently that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will miss the start of training camp with a sprained knee, but assuming he’s back for the season, he’s the best player on any of the teams listed here so far. The Thunder have lots of positional size in their starting lineup, with multiple players capable of guarding multiple positions. That should give them a capable defense, and between that and Gilgeous-Alexander’s prodigious skill as a driver, there’s enough competence here that it’ll be surprising if this team doesn’t take a small step forward.  

24. Washington Wizards

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Resigning Bradley Beal to an extension for the maximum allowable salary was an obvious move for the Wizards this offseason, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the Wizards would have been better off shifting into a rebuild years ago. A starting five of Monte Morris, Bradley Beal, Will Barton, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis should be extremely potent offensively, but it’s hard to see this team improving what was a bottom-10 defense last season.

23. Orlando Magic

books ranking 2022

The arrow is pointing up, finally, in Orlando. In Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, the Magic have a couple of versatile forwards with complementary skill sets. Wendell Carter Jr. — acquired from the Bulls in exchange for Nikola Vucevic in a trade that now looks like an absolute heist for the Magic — is one of the most underrated bigs in basketball right now. 

22. Sacramento Kings

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The Kings have built up some optimism around the pick-and-roll duo of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, but this team has been so bad for so long that it’s hard to imagine success is on the horizon. As usual, the questions here are about defense. When Fox and Sabonis played together last season, the Kings defense performed at a league-worst level, and they’ll have to flip that this season to have any chance at making a playoff run.

21. Detroit Pistons

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This team is still really young, but Cade Cunningham’s post All-Star break averages of nearly 21 points, six rebounds and seven assists put him on track for a monster second season. Recent trade acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic is the perfect veteran option to put with this group — his capable outside shooting and heady floor game will help the younger players on the roster be the best versions of themselves. 

20. New York Knicks

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In Jalen Brunson, the Knicks finally have a capable point guard after searching for one for what seems like decades. Or do they? For a point guard, Brunson’s ability to rack up assists was pretty mediocre during his time in Dallas. A lot of that had to do with playing alongside the do-everything force of Luka Dončić. Still, maybe the most important thing for the Knicks this season will be figuring out if Brunson is capable of creating shots for his teammates as efficiently as he creates shots for himself. 

19. Los Angeles Lakers

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It’s tempting to suggest that if LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both healthy, the Lakers will go back to being NBA Finals contenders this season. Unfortunately, even when James and Davis did share the court last season, the Lakers had a negative point differential. This roster is just broken, and until they find a way to get back some meaningful talent around their two stars, they’re not going to be very good. 

18. Chicago Bulls

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The Bulls have a strange roster. Most teams try to build a solid interior defense and surround that defense with guards who can carry the offense. The Bulls are the opposite. They have a strong offense built around two wings (DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine) and a center (Nikola Vucevic), but those players are all lacking defensively. Because of that, they need Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball — their two defensive ace guards — to be fully healthy. Recent news that Ball is about to have yet another surgery on his knee, then, is a huge blow for this team heading into the season. 

17. Portland Trail Blazers

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I am incredibly optimistic about the Trail Blazers this season, but that optimism depends on whether or not Damian Lillard can return to form after recovering from the abdominal injury that kept him out much of last season. If he can, and if the Blazers can get a little bit more injury luck around him as well, they’re going to shoot up these power rankings as the season progresses. 

16. Atlanta Hawks

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The Hawks made two significant changes this summer. They traded Kevin Huerter for Justin Holiday and Maurice Harkless, and — much more importantly — they picked up Dejounte Murray in a major trade with the San Antonio Spurs. Both of these moves were attempts to put together a more versatile and effective defense around their offensive star, Trae Young. The Hawks, who had the second-best offense in the league last season, will go as far as that defense is able to carry them.

15. Toronto Raptors

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The Raptors don’t need help on defense. They’ve got the market cornered on long, versatile, strong and quick defenders, and they’ve got a coach in Nick Nurse who knows how to deploy those long-armed menaces on the court. The big question for the Raptors is this: how soon can Scottie Barnes become the All-NBA force that everyone seems to agree he’s bound to become? If it’s this year, this ranking will be way too low. 

14. New Orleans Pelicans

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The optimism in New Orleans is as amped-up as it’s ever been. Zion Williamson is supposedly healthy, and the Pelicans were a feel-good story at the end of last season as they snuck into the playoffs and gave the Phoenix Suns all they could handle. One player to keep an eye on is Herb Jones. Already one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, if last season’s rookie can make some small gains on the offensive end in his sophomore outing, it’ll be a big boost. 

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

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The Timberwolves didn’t split hairs when it came time to decide if they wanted to push all their chips into the middle of the table. They gave up an absurd haul of future draft capital to pick up Rudy Gobert — the best defensive player of his era — from the Utah Jazz. The idea is to build a top-10 defense while maintaining their already-elite offense from last season. Will it work? My guess is that it will — at least in the regular season. The playoffs, as always, are a different story.

12. Dallas Mavericks

books ranking 2022

Luka Dončić will show up for this season in shape for the first time in a few seasons, and that should allow him to avoid the slow starts that have plagued him in the past. We know Luka can carry an offense, so the real variable here is defense. He raised his game on the defensive end in getting past the Suns in the playoffs, but can he sustain that kind of effort over the course of an entire season? If he can, Luka’s going to be this season’s MVP. 

11. Cleveland Cavaliers

books ranking 2022

I covered it in my 2022–23 predictions , but this Cavaliers team has a chance to be truly special. There are, of course, some unknowns — the wing rotation, in particular, is pretty thin — but in Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs should give opponents all they can handle offensively. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are more than capable of carrying the defense. Mobley is the key to it all though — if he can make a leap on the offensive end, this team is a contender to win it all already. 

10. Miami Heat

books ranking 2022

The Heat lost P.J. Tucker, who was the key to so much of what made them special — especially on defense — in the playoffs last season. Without question, that’s a significant loss. But if you have Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo anchoring your team, no one should be counting you out just yet. Miami always finds a way to exceed expectations, and this season will probably be no different.

9. Memphis Grizzlies

books ranking 2022

As I’ve written before , I’m a little worried about the Grizzlies this season. Some of the depth that made them so dangerous in the regular season last year is gone, and while the most important players are still on the team, this is a profoundly young roster. An injury will keep their best defensive player, Jaren Jackson Jr., out for the first part of the season, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if they struggle to pick up where they left off because of that. 

8. Brooklyn Nets

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This Nets team is largely theoretical, but wow what a theory! You already know about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two of the most unstoppable offensive players ever, but I’m most excited to watch Ben Simmons. Simmons has been much maligned these past couple of seasons, so it’s easy to forget that he’s one of the best passers in the league and one of the best defenders, too. If he’s really ready to go, this team might end up being even better than the version we thought we were getting at the beginning of last season. 

7. Philadelphia 76ers

books ranking 2022

The 76ers made smart moves to improve their defense this offseason, plucking useful players like P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and De’Anthony Melton to add to their rotation. They’re going to be solid on offense, and most nights that’s going to be enough to get them the win, but the regular season feels pretty meaningless to these guys at this point. Can Joel Embiid and James Harden overcome their many years of playoff failures? We shall see. 

6. Denver Nuggets

books ranking 2022

My favorite team to watch, the Nuggets finally get back Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to reassemble the lineup that looked like the best one in the league for a few short weeks in the early spring of 2021. There’s an added twist, too, as the Nuggets picked up Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from the Wizards in exchange for Monte Morris and Will Barton. Don’t be surprised, I’m saying, if the best five-man unit in the NBA this season is Murray, Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gordon, Porter Jr. and MVP center Nikola Jokić.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

books ranking 2022

Speaking of players returning from injuries, the Clippers — with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George ready to go — probably have the deepest roster in the league right now. One of the most fun wrinkles? John Wall. After years of nagging injuries — he’s sat out two of the past three seasons — he’s healthy and could be the floor general this team has been missing of late. 

4. Phoenix Suns

books ranking 2022

I can’t think of a more brutal playoff loss than the one the Suns suffered at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in game seven of their second round series last season. The Suns completely fell apart in that game, and it’s hard not to wonder how they’ll recover. Still, this team was head-and-shoulders better than every team in basketball last season — before the playoffs, that is — and pretty much everybody is back. 

3. Boston Celtics

books ranking 2022

After a feel-good 2022 playoff run in which they surprised a lot of folks by marching to the Finals, the Celtics have had a tough offseason. Their head coach, Ime Udoka, is suspended for the entire upcoming season, and their defensive anchor, Robert Williams, will miss the next couple of months while recovering from knee surgery. They’re still the betting favorites to win the conference, but some of the shine has certainly worn off. 

2. Milwaukee Bucks

books ranking 2022

The Bucks, and not the Celtics, are the team I’d bet on representing the Eastern Conference in the 2023 NBA Finals. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player in the world right now — an unstoppable force on offense as well as a defensive system unto himself. The Bucks might have won the Championship last season had they not lost Khris Middleton to an injury at the wrong moment. They should be right back there this season. 

1. Golden State Warriors

books ranking 2022

The Warriors — after losing Kevin Durant in free agency and Klay Thompson to a series of devastating injuries — finally put it all back together to win another title last year. Most importantly, Stephen Curry proved that he’s even better than we often think he is; he rises to the occasion when the moment calls for it. Not to mention, Steph’s game is impossible to defend, and he makes everyone around him better, too. This team has lots of great talent, but Curry makes it all tick — and we’re lucky to have the privilege of watching him play. 


books ranking 2022

The 100 Must-Read Books of 2022

Gripping novels, transporting poetry, and timely nonfiction that asked us to look deeper Andrew R. Chow, Lucy Feldman, Mahita Gajanan, Annabel Gutterman, Angela Haupt, Cady Lang, and Laura Zornosa

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A Heart That Works

All the lovers in the night, all this could be different, an immense world, ancestor trouble, anna: the biography, bitter orange tree, the book of goose, butts: a backstory, calling for a blanket dance, the candy house, carrie soto is back, chef's kiss, civil rights queen, constructing a nervous system, cover story, the crane wife, the daughter of doctor moreau, dirtbag, massachusetts, ducks: two years in the oil sands, easy beauty, eating to extinction, the emergency, the employees, the escape artist, everything i need i get from you, the extraordinary life of an ordinary man, the family outing, fellowship point, fiona and jane, the furrows, getting lost, half american, the hero of this book, his name is george floyd, honey & spice, how far the light reaches, the hurting kind, i came all this way to meet you, i'm glad my mom died, if an egyptian cannot speak english, if i survive you, index, a history of the, the invisible kingdom, learning to talk, lesser known monsters of the 21st century, liberation day, life between the tides, the light we carry, lost & found, lucy by the sea, the man who could move clouds, maps of our spectacular bodies, the marriage portrait, mouth to mouth, the naked don't fear the water, night of the living rez, nightcrawling, now is not the time to panic, nuclear family, olga dies dreaming, our missing hearts, the rabbit hutch, the revolutionary: samuel adams, scattered all over the earth, the school for good mothers, shrines of gaiety, signal fires, siren queen, south to america, strangers to ourselves, ted kennedy: a life, this time tomorrow, time is a mother, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, the trayvon generation, under the skin, when we were sisters, woman without shame, the world keeps ending, and the world goes on, young mungo.

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This project is led by Lucy Feldman and Annabel Gutterman, with writing, reporting, and additional editing by Andrew R. Chow, Mahita Gajanan, Angela Haupt, Cady Lang, Rachel Sonis, and Laura Zornosa; photography editing by Whitney Matewe; art direction by Victor Williams; video by Erica Solano; audience strategy by Alex Hinnant, Kari Sonde, and Kim Tal; and production by Nadia Suleman.

Discover the winners for the best books of the year in the 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards

Most popular books published in 2022

Books most frequently added to goodreads members' shelves, updated weekly.

Book Cover

Reminders of Him

Colleen hoover.

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It Starts with Us (It Ends with Us, #2)

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Book Lovers

Emily henry.

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Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Gabrielle zevin.

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Things We Never Got Over (Knockemout, #1)

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Lessons in Chemistry

Bonnie garmus.

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I'm Glad My Mom Died

Jennette mccurdy.

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The Housemaid (The Housemaid, #1)

Freida mcfadden.

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The Maid (Molly the Maid, #1)

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The Paris Apartment

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Every Summer After

Carley fortune.

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Icebreaker (Maple Hills, #1)

Hannah grace.

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Carrie Soto Is Back

Taylor jenkins reid.

Book Cover

Remarkably Bright Creatures

Shelby van pelt.

Book Cover

A Flicker in the Dark

Stacy willingham.

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These are the bestselling books of 2022.

Emily Temple

Another trip around the sun, another year of bookselling. You’ve heard about the best books of 2022 , but what about the best sellers ? Well, you’ve probably heard about a few of them too. Here’s the list of the 25 bestselling books of the year, per Publishers Weekly :

1. Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us (Atria) – 2,729,007 copies sold

2. Colleen Hoover, Verity   (Grand Central) – 2,000,418 copies sold

3. Colleen Hoover, It Starts with Us   (Atria) – 1,885,351 copies sold

4. Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing   (Putnam) – 1,868,518 copies sold

5. Colleen Hoover, Ugly Love   (Atria) – 1,502,036 copies sold

6. James Clear, Atomic Habits   (Avery) – 1,287,253 copies sold

7. Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo   (Washington Square) – 1,272,458 copies sold

8. Colleen Hoover, Reminders of Him   (Montlake) – 1,235,655 copies sold

9. Colleen Hoover, November 9   (Atria) – 999,552 copies sold

10. Jeff Kinney, Diper Överlöde (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #17)  (Amulet) – 830,325 copies sold

11. Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar   (Philomel) – 738,840 copies sold

12. Michelle Obama, The Light We Carry   (Crown) – 733,949 copies sold

13. Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score   (Penguin Books) – 636,831 copies sold

14. Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!   (Random House) – 627,750 copies sold

15. Stephen King, Fairy Tale (Scribner) – 627,598 copies sold

16. Dav Pilkey, On Purpose (Cat Kid Comic Club #3)  (Graphix) – 623,347 copies sold

17. Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements   (Amber-Allen) – 605,859 copies sold

18. Colleen Hoover, All Your Perfects   (Atria) – 591,936 copies sold

19. Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?   (Holt) – 583,564 copies sold

20. Jennette McCurdy, I’m Glad My Mom Died (Simon & Schuster) – 583,027 copies sold

21. Emily Henry, Book Lovers   (Berkley) – 576,701 copies sold

22. Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient   (Celadon) – 572,876 copies sold

23. Holly Jackson, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder   (Ember) – 556,546 copies sold

24. Colleen Hoover, Maybe Someday   (Atria) – 543,658 copies sold

25. Emily Henry, People We Meet on Vacation   (Berkley) – 540,803 copies sold

As you can see, Colleen Hoover swept the board, selling over 14.3 million books this year in total. BookTok strikes again.

You may have also noticed that a lot of the bestselling books of 2022 did not actually come out in 2022. Backlist is always a strong presence on this list—Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a confirmed staple , for instance. But as Publishers Lunch pointed out , 70 percent of print book sales last year reported by NPD Bookscan were backlist, and “roughly three quarters” of the 200 best sellers were published before 2022. Publishers Lunch also put together this list of the 20 bestselling new books of 2022, with their rank on the larger Bookscan list:

3. Colleen Hoover,  It Starts With Us  (Atria, Oct. 18)

17. Colleen Hoover,  Reminders of Him  (Montlake, Jan. 18)

19. Jeff Kinney,  Diper Överlöde  (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 17) (Amulet, Oct. 25)

21. Michelle Obama,  The Light We Carry: Overcoming In Uncertain Times (Crown, Nov. 15)

24. Stephen King,  Fairy Tale  (Scribner, Sept 6.)

25. Dav Pilkey,  Cat Kid Comic Club: On Purpose  (Cat Kid Comic Club #3) (Graphix, Nov. 12)

29. Jennette McCurdy,  I’m Glad My Mom Died  (Simon & Schuster, Aug. 9)

30. Emily Henry,  Book Lovers  (Berkley, May 3)

35. James Patterson and Dolly Parton,  Run, Rose, Run  (Little, Brown, Mar. 7)

38. John Grisham,  The Boys From Biloxi  (Doubleday, Oct. 18)

47. Bonnie Garmus,  Lessons In Chemistry  (Doubleday, Apr. 5)

50. Ina Garten,  Go-To Dinners: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook  (Clarkson Potter, Oct. 25)

54. Nicholas Sparks,  Dreamland  (Random, Sept. 20)

63. Tieghan Gerard,  Half Baked Harvest Every Day: Recipes For Balanced, Flexible, Feel-Good Meals  (Clarkson Potter, Mar. 29)

64. Lucy Score,  Things We Never Got Over  (Bloom Books, Jan. 12)

66. Dav Pilkey,  Cat Kid Comic Club: Collaborations  (Cat Kid Comic Club #4) (Graphix, Nov. 29)

71. Carley Fortune,  Every Summer After  (Berkley, May 10)

73. Matthew Perry,  Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing  (Flatiron, Nov. 1)

78. Shea Ernshaw, Long Live the Pumpkin Queen: Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas  (Disney, Aug. 2)

81. John Grisham,  Sparring Partners: Novellas  (Doubleday, May 31)

And on both lists, literary fiction is once again left out in the cold…

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to the Lithub Daily

December 7, 2023.

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  • British novelist and poet (and Peaky Blinders star) Benjamin Zephaniah has died .
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33 books that made it to #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list this year (so far)

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  • The New York Times Bestseller List shows the bestselling fiction and nonfiction books of the week.
  • On top of new releases, old favorites continue to make the list, sometimes years after publication.
  • We've collected some of the best fiction and nonfiction books that held the #1 spot in 2022 so far.

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There are so many ways to discover a great book, but the New York Times Best Sellers list has compiled the most popular fiction, nonfiction, and children's books from vendors across the country for almost a century and has become a measure of success for writers everywhere. 

Titles that reach the coveted #1 spot are usually highly anticipated releases from beloved authors, sequels to which readers have been counting down, or juicy celebrity memoirs. But with the rise of influencer recommendations on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, books published years prior still make appearances again and again, like "It Ends With Us" , which was published in 2016 but has been a #1 New York Times Bestseller for nine weeks so far in 2022. 

The full list is posted weekly on the New York Times website , but we collected some of the best new fiction and nonfiction books to hold the #1 spot so far in 2022. 

33 books that ended up as #1 bestsellers on the New York Times Best Sellers list in 2022 so far:

Fiction and poetry, "dream town" by david baldacci.

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"Dream Town" by David Baldacci, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.50

"Dream Town" is the third book in David Baldacci's "Archer" series but can be read as a standalone. As private investigator and World War II veteran Archer plans to celebrate the New Year with a friend, Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter, feels her life is in danger and hires him to investigate. When a body is found in Eleanor's home and she suddenly disappears, Archer winds through the glamor of 1950s Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Hollywood in a suspenseful and exciting series of events to find Eleanor and the murderer in this noir crime thriller. 

"Book Lovers" by Emily Henry

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"Book Lovers" by Emily Henry, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.58

Nora Stephens is a literary agent who is ready to become the heroine of her own story when her sister, Libby, invites her on a trip away from the city to the little town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. Though Nora is expecting a month of romance novel-like meet-cutes and bookshop days, she continually runs into Charlie Lastra, a book editor from the city with whom she has a deep-seated rivalry. "Book Lovers" is one of our favorite romance reads of the summer — check out our full review here . 

"House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. Maas

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"House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. Maas, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.74

The highly anticipated sequel to Sarah J. Maas' "House of Earth and Blood" hit shelves in February 2022 and quickly rose to the top of the bestseller list. Readers follow Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar on their search for normalcy after saving Crescent City, but as oppression grows around them, the duo knows they must continue to fight for what's right in this incredible fantasy novel with a deeply satisfying conclusion.

"In the Blood" by Jack Carr

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"In the Blood" by Jack Carr, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.49

As former Navy SEAL James Reece watches the news from his Montana home, he sees a name he recognizes from his time in Iraq listed as a victim of a missile attack on a passenger aircraft in Burkina Faso, Africa. With ties to the intelligence services in two nations, James is sure her death is no accident and enlists old and new friends on his mission to track down her killer, unaware of the dangers that may await him. 

"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens

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"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.98

Readers still can't get enough of this 2018 Reese's Book Club pick as it continues to outshine new releases for the top spot on the New York Times Best Seller list, four years after its original publication. In this historical fiction read, Kya Clark is known as the "Marsh Girl," who learns and lives from the land until a popular boy is found dead and her community immediately suspects her as the murderer.

"Nightwork" by Nora Roberts

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"Nightwork" by Nora Roberts, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.99

"Nightwork" blends romance and suspense as Harry Booth leaves Chicago, continuing his work as a subtle thief-for-hire after his mother's death. Though his work requires him to remain unattached, he finds his resolve softening as he grows nearer to Miranda Emerson until his past catches up to him and casts a dark shadow over his life once more. 

"It Ends with Us" by Colleen Hoover

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"It Ends with Us" by Colleen Hoover, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.17

This 2016 Colleen Hoover novel continues to reach the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller list due to its huge popularity on BookTok . "It Ends with Us" is a fast-paced contemporary romance novel about Lily, who dives heart-first into a relationship with the almost-too-good-to-be-true neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. When a past love and life resurface, her relationship with Ryle becomes threatened. 

"Sparring Partners" by John Grisham

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"Sparring Partners" by John Grisham, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.47

Josh Grisham is a bestselling author of legal thrillers like "A Time to Kill" and "The Pelican Brief." His new collection, "Sparring Partners," consists of three novellas, one starring his beloved character Jake Brigance, another featuring a death row inmate three hours before execution, and the final story following two feuding brothers who inherited a law firm when their father went to prison. You can find more of John Grisham's best books here .

"Call Us What We Carry" by Amanda Gorman

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"Call Us What We Carry" by Amanda Gorman, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.80

2021 Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman's latest collection, "Call Us What We Carry," was the first read to top the New York Times Bestseller List in 2022, praised by readers for Gorman's insightful and profound views. These poems include brilliant reflections upon history, society, and the human experience including painful memories of the COVID-19 pandemic and hopeful dedications to the future. 

"Run, Rose, Run" by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

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"Run, Rose, Run" by Dolly Parton and James Patterson, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.00 

Written by a beloved music legend and the bestselling author of all time, "Run Rose Run" is an entertaining and suspenseful James Patterson mystery about a young woman running both from her past and towards a promising future in the music industry. As AnnieLee Keys lands in Nashville, she still finds herself constantly looking over her shoulder as her past and secrets lurk ever nearer. 

"The Paris Apartment" by Lucy Foley

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"The Paris Apartment" by Lucy Foley, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $25.98

When Jes moves into her half-brother's Parisian apartment in search of a fresh start, she's not only surprised by his apparent wealth but his sudden disappearance. As she begins to dig into his situation in an effort to find him, Jes's worry grows and her brother's peculiar and unfriendly neighbors each emerge as suspects. 

"Abandoned in Death" by J.D. Robb

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"Abandoned in Death" by J.D. Robb, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.34

J.D. Robb is the pseudonym under which Nora Roberts publishes her "in Death" series, with "Abandoned in Death" as the 54th installment. In this latest mystery novel, detective Eve Dallas begins to investigate the peculiar homicide of a woman found neatly arranged on a New York City playground bench, with a fatal wound hidden beneath a ribbon on her neck and an ominous note reading "Bad Mommy." As Eve investigates a clearly troubled killer, other similar disappearances emerge and intensify the urgency of the case. 

"The Hotel Nantucket" by Elin Hilderbrand

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"The Hotel Nantucket" by Elin Hilderbrand, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.99

When billionaire Xavier Darling purchases The Hotel Nantucket, he renovates and revitalizes the abandoned lodge that was once popular until a 1922 fire killed a young girl. As the hotel's new general manager, Lizbet, pulls together a passionate staff, they fight against the hotel's bad reputation, the lingering ghost, and each other to change fate and find a brighter future. 

"The Match" by Harlan Coben

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"The Match" by Harlan Coben, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.37

This action-packed sequel to "The Boy from the Woods" follows Wilde as he discovers the identity of his father through a DNA genealogy website and a second match that pulls him into a secret community of online doxxers. As the story unfolds through murder, scandal, and gripping suspense, it seems a serial killer is targeting the online community — and Wilde might be poised as the next target.

"Hook, Line, and Sinker" by Tessa Bailey

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"Hook, Line, and Sinker" by Tessa Bailey, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $12.38

"Hook, Line, and Sinker" is a swoon-worthy contemporary romance about Fox Thornton, a notorious charmer, and Hannah Bellinger, who's in town for work, staying in Fox's spare bedroom, and completely immune to his charming ways. Though Hannah initially has her eye on a coworker, she can't seem to resist slowly falling for Fox as they spend more and more time together as he tries to prove he's not interested in another temporary fling.

"The Investigator" by John Sandford

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"The Investigator" by John Sandford, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.64

Letty Davenport is bored at her desk job when her boss, Senator Colles, offers her an investigative role with the Department of Homeland Security to uncover a series of reported crude oil thefts, possibly part of something much larger and more sinister. As Letty and her partner head to Texas, they soon find a far deadlier and more dangerous situation than they could have imagined.

"The Judge's List" by John Grisham

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"The Judge's List" by John Grisham, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.94

"The Judge's List" is John Grisham's sequel to his 2016 thriller, "The Whistler,"  and continues Lacy Stoltz's story three years later as she uncovers a startling case — that of a Florida judge turned serial killer. As the judge stays one step ahead of the law and continues to hunt down those who have wronged him, Lacy must end his murderous crusade before she becomes the next name on his list. 

"Finding Me" by Viola Davis

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"Finding Me" by Viola Davis, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.53

This honest and unforgettable memoir is Viola Davis' reflection upon her journey to self-love by facing herself and her past. From poverty and bullying to systemic racism in Hollywood, Davis recounts the challenges she faced during childhood, her rise into stardom, and those she continues to face today.  

"The Office BFFs" by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey

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"The Office BFFs" by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.18

"The Office" characters Pam Beesley and Angela Martin have little in common, but the actresses that brought them to life bonded from the first days on set. "The Office BFFs" is a dual memoir of Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey's experiences as they made memories with the cast, walked their first red carpet, became moms, and created a lifelong friendship that continues to this day. 

"Happy-Go-Lucky" by David Sedaris

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"Happy-Go-Lucky" by David Sedaris, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.79

"Happy-Go-Lucky" is a collection of funny personal essays about how David Sedaris' life changed during the COVID-19 lockdown and continues to change as the world adjusts to a new normal. In these essays, Sedaris captures the humor and irony of these experiences and the ultimate desire for connection that drives our society. 

"The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk

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"The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.40

Written by a trauma expert with over 30 years of experience working with trauma survivors, "The Body Keeps the Score" is a psychology book about how traumatic stress "rewires" our brains. As an alternative to drugs or talk therapy, Dr. van der Kolk asserts how we can reactivate many trauma-affected areas of our brains through innovative treatments and therapies. 

"Tanqueray" by Stephanie Johnson and Brandon Stanton

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"Tanqueray" by Stephanie Johnson and Brandon Stanton, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.49

In 2019, Stephanie Johnson was featured in a "Humans of New York" story, capturing the attention of millions of readers as they learned of her rise from a brutal childhood to becoming one of the best-known burlesque dancers in New York City known as Tanqueray. Written alongside Brandon Stanton, the author of "Humans of New York," "Tanqueray" tells Stephanie Johnson's full story, including all the challenges and triumphs that led to her success and fame. 

"Bittersweet" by Susan Cain

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"Bittersweet" by Susan Cain, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.48

Bittersweetness is often thought of as a moment or feeling where something good and bad intersect, but in this psychology read, Susan Cain demonstrates how embracing a "bittersweet" state of mind can help us connect to ourselves and each other. Already known for her heartfelt and enlightening writing style in her other bestseller, "Quiet,"  this nonfiction book uses bittersweetness to teach readers about our relationships with creativity, compassion, leadership, longing, and love. 

"The Storyteller" by Dave Grohl

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"The Storyteller" by Dave Grohl, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.99

Dave Grohl has become internationally renowned as the drummer for Nirvana and the Foo Fighters and in this memoir, he details the incredible musical and personal experiences that made him the man he is today. Grohl's personality naturally shines through his writing and is further brought to life in his audiobook narration.

"The 1619 Project," edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman, and Jake Silverstein

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"The 1619 Project," edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman, and Jake Silverstein, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $22.80

In 1619, a cargo ship of 20-30 enslaved people from Africa arrived on the shores of Virginia, igniting a system of brutal slavery and racism that would span centuries. Originally published in The New York Times as a collection of 18 essays and 36 poems and works of fiction, "The 1619 Project" demonstrates how this often-buried history radiates through contemporary American society and offers a new origin story for the United States.

"Unthinkable" by Jamie Raskin

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"Unthinkable" by Jamie Raskin, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.59

"Unthinkable" is a new memoir by Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin whose life permanently changed at the beginning of 2021 as he mourned his son's sudden and tragic passing, lived through the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, and led the impeachment efforts against President Trump for inciting violence. This read recounts these painful events by intertwining personal and professional narratives into a single vivid memoir.

"James Patterson" by James Patterson

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"James Patterson" by James Patterson, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.50

James Patterson is one of the world's most successful writers and his memoir is a collection of interesting and remarkable stories from his life. Written with a comfortable and casual tone, Patterson explains how he developed a love of reading as an adult, met famous musicians and actors before he made a name of his own, and even wrote the famous "Toys 'R Us" jingle while working in advertising. You can find some of James Patterson's best books here .

"Enough Already" by Valerie Bertinelli

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"Enough Already" by Valerie Bertinelli, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.29

Valerie Bertinelli is an award-winning actress whose new memoir uses personal and relatable stories to offer readers advice on how to achieve a healthier and happier outlook on life. Bertinelli shares her struggles with harsh personal criticism and the journey on which she embarked to transcend our need for perfectionism and reach, instead, for joy. 

"From Strength to Strength" by Arthur C. Brooks

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"From Strength to Strength" by Arthur C. Brooks, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.99

This self-help read identifies how many people, including the author himself, struggle to find purpose and success as they age, often feeling as though they may be "declining" as a sense of professional or social irrelevance emerges with age. In "From Strength to Strength," Arthur C. Brooks demonstrates how readers can refocus their priorities and habits in order to make their older years equally full of happiness, purpose, and success.

"One Damn Thing After Another" by William P. Barr

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"One Damn Thing After Another" by William P. Barr, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $21.91

William P. Barr was the attorney general during two different presidential administrations — President George H.W. Bush and President Donald Trump. This memoir traverses the most memorable and affecting events Barr faced in his years as attorney general while comparing the vast similarities and differences between the Bush and Trump presidential legacies. 

"Freezing Order" by Bill Browder

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"Freezing Order" by Bill Browder, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $18.80

After Bill Browder's lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was beaten to death in a Moscow jail, Browder set out to uncover why Magnitsky was killed and bring the killers to justice. In his investigation, Browder followed a trail beyond a tax refund scheme, through Russian government involvement, and to the corruption that runs far deeper than he could have imagined. 

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The Best Books of 2022

If you want to read about spaceships, talking pigs, or supervillains, you’ve come to the right place.

Headshot of Adrienne Westenfeld

Check back with us in the new year, when we'll start rounding up our favorite books of 2023. In the meantime, happy reading!

Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta, by James Hannaham

Hannaham’s buoyant sophomore novel introduces us to the unforgettable Carlotta Mercedes, an Afro-Latinx trans woman released from a men’s prison after serving two decades. Returning home to Brooklyn, she encounters a gentrified city she doesn’t recognize, as well as a host of new stressors; life on the outside soon involves an unforgiving parole process and a family that struggles to recognize her transition. Over the course of one zany Fourth of July weekend, Carlotta descends into Brooklyn’s roiling underbelly on a quest to stand in her truth. Angry, saucy, and joyful, Carlotta is a true survivor—one whose story shines a disinfecting light on the injustices of our world.

Harry Sylvester Bird, by Chinelo Okparanta

The title character of Okparanta’s gutsy new novel is a white teenager born to xenophobic parents, but everything changes for young Harry Sylvester Bird on a safari in Tanzania, when he develops an enduring fascination with Blackness. Harry soon escapes to college in Manhattan and begins to identify as Black, joining a “Transracial-Anon” support group and longing for “racial reassignment.” When he falls in love with Maryam, a student from Nigeria, a study-abroad trip to Ghana’s Gold Coast puts both their romance and his identity to the test. Outlandish and arresting, Harry’s miseducation is a deft satire of prejudice and allyship.

Young Mungo, by Douglas Stuart

When his Shuggie Bain took home the Booker Prize in 2020, readers were desperate to see what this astounding debut novelist would do next. It will come as no surprise that Stuart’s second effort soars—and socks you right in the belly. Set in the tenements of Glasgow during the 1990s, Young Mungo is the wrenching story of the doomed and forbidden love between two teenage boys, one Catholic and the other Protestant. Insecure, self-loathing Mungo is forever changed by the calming influence of tender-hearted James, but in a stratified society such as this one, their bond can’t be allowed to stand. When the adults in their lives intervene, James and Mungo learn heartbreaking lessons about how boys become men. In a world where hope and despair coexist, Young Mungo is both brutal and breathtaking.

Time Is a Mother, by Ocean Vuong

Vuong’s second collection of poetry is a bruising journey through the devastating aftershocks of his mother’s death. Like Orpheus descending into the underworld, Vuong takes us to the white-hot limits of his grief, writing with visionary fervor about love, agony, and time. Without his mother, Vuong must remake his understanding of the world: what is identity when its source is gone? What is language without the cultural memory of our elders? Aesthetically ambitious and ferociously original, Time Is A Mother interrogates these impossibilities. “Nobody’s free without breaking open,” Vuong writes in one searing poem. Here, he breaks open and rebuilds.

Trust, by Hernan Diaz

In 2018, Diaz came close to the Pulitzer Prize with In the Distance , a probing western honored as a finalist; now, with Trust , he may finally take home the gold. Trust is the story of a Wall Street tycoon and his brilliant wife, who become outlandishly wealthy in Prohibition-era New York. In this puzzle box of stories-within-a-story, the mystery of their affluence becomes the subject of a novel, a memoir, an unfinished manuscript, and finally, a diary. Each layer builds and recontextualizes Diaz's riveting story of class, capitalism, and greed. The result is a mesmerizing metafictional alchemy of grand scope and even grander accomplishment.

Liarmouth, by John Waters

Waters takes his first bow as a novelist with this "perfectly perverted feel-bad romance” about Marsha “Liarmouth” Sprinkle, a con woman caught up in a bad romance with Darryl, the degenerate loser with whom she steals suitcases from airport luggage carousels. Marsha has promised Darryl sex for his services after one year of employment, but when she skips out without paying up, Darryl is out for revenge. In the acknowledgments, Waters aptly describes this novel as “fictitious anarchy.” That’s as good a description as any for this campy, raunchy, surreal story, rife with ribald pleasures. Read an interview with Waters here at Esquire.

Butts: A Backstory, by Heather Radke

This crackling cultural history melds scholarship and pop culture to arrive at a comprehensive taxonomy of the female bottom. From 19th-century burlesque to the eighties aerobics craze to Kim Kardashian’s internet-breaking backside, Radke leaves no stone unturned. Her sources range from anthropological scholarship to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” making for a vivacious blend, but Butts isn’t all fun and games. Radke explores how women’s butts have been used “as a means to create and reinforce racial hierarchies,” acting as locuses of racism, control, and desire. Lively and thorough, Butts is the best kind of nonfiction—the kind that forces you to see something ordinary through completely new eyes. Read an interview with the author here at Esquire.

Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor, by Kim Kelly

With a galvanizing groundswell of unionization efforts rocking mega-corporations like Amazon and Starbucks, there’s never been a better time to learn about the history of the American labor movement. Fight Like Hell will be your indispensable guide to the past, present, and future of organized labor. Rather than structure this comprehensive history chronologically, Kelly organizes it into chapter-sized profiles of different labor sectors, from sex workers to incarcerated laborers to domestic workers. Each chapter contains capsule biographies of working-class heroes, along with a painstaking focus on those who were hidden or dismissed from the movement. So too do these chapters illuminate how many civil rights struggles, like women’s liberation and fair wages for disabled workers, are also, at their core, labor struggles. After reading Fight Like Hell , you’ll never look at American history the same way again—and you may just be inspired to organize your own workplace. Read an interview with Kelly here at Esquire.

Overdue: Reckoning with the Public Library, by Amanda Oliver

Library-goers have long labored under a romanticized portrait of libraries as sacred spaces. In Overdue , a former librarian explores the importance of demanding better from what we love. Through the lens of her time as a librarian in one of Washington D.C.’s most impoverished neighborhoods, Oliver illuminates how libraries have long been vectors for some of our biggest social ills, from segregation to racism to inequality. Now, as unhoused patrons take refuge in libraries and librarians are trained to administer Narcan, our overlapping mental healthcare and opioid crises come to a head in these spaces. At once a love letter and a call to action, Overdue dispels mythology and demands a better future. You’ll never see libraries the same way again.

Woman, Eating, by Claire Kohda

My Year of Rest and Relaxation meets Milk Fed in this slacker comedy about Lydia, a multiracial Gen Z vampire suffering an identity crisis. Fresh out of art school and eager to make a new life for herself in London, Lydia soon gets a harsh reality check: her gallery internship is unfulfilling, her crush is dating someone else, and her supply of pig's blood is running dangerously low. Ravenous and lonesome, she becomes addicted to watching #WhatIEatInADay videos, desperate for the embodied connection to food and life that humans experience. But for this yearning young vampire, self-acceptance won’t come until she finds something (or someone) to eat. Thoughtful and thrilling, Woman, Eating makes a meal of themes like cultural alienation, disordered eating, and the growing pains of adulthood.

The Passenger, by Cormac McCarthy

After sixteen years of characteristic seclusion, McCarthy returns with a one-two punch: The Passenger , out in October, and Stella Maris , a companion volume set to follow in November. In The Passenger , the stronger of the two works, we meet Bobby Western, a salvage diver and mathematical genius reckoning with his troubled personal history. Western is tormented by the legacy of his father, who worked on the atomic bomb, and the suicide of his sister, who suffered from schizophrenia. Told in meandering form, The Passenger is an elegiac meditation on guilt, grief, and spirituality. Packed with textbook McCarthy hallmarks, like transgressive behaviors and cascades of ecstatic language, it’s a welcome return from a legend who’s been gone too long.

Fen, Bog and Swamp, by Annie Proulx

The legendary author of “Brokeback Mountain” and The Shipping News delivers an enchanting history of our wetlands, a vitally important but criminally misunderstood landscape now imperiled by climate change. As Proulx explains, fens, bogs, swamps, and estuaries preserve our environment by storing carbon emissions. Roving through peatlands around the world, Proulx weaves a riveting history of their role in brewing diseases and fueling industrialization. Imbued with the same reverence for nature as Proulx’s fiction, Fen, Bog, and Swamp is both an enchanting work of nature writing and a rousing call to action. Read an exclusive interview with the author here at Esquire.

Because Our Fathers Lied, by Craig McNamara

How do we reckon with the sins of our parents? That’s the thorny question at the center of this moving and courageous memoir authored by the son of Robert S. McNamara, Kennedy’s architect of the Vietnam War. In this conflicted son’s telling, a complicated man comes into intimate view, as does the “mixture of love and rage” at the heart of their relationship. At once a loving and neglectful parent, the elder McNamara’s controversial lies about the war ultimately estranged him from his son, who hung Viet Cong flags in his childhood bedroom as a protest. The pursuit of a life unlike his father’s saw the younger McNamara drop out of Stanford and travel through South America on a motorcycle, leading him to ultimately become a sustainable walnut farmer. Through his own personal story of disappointment and disillusionment, McNamara captures an intergenerational conflict and a journey of moral identity.

A Ballet of Lepers, by Leonard Cohen

A Ballet of Lepers collects never-before-seen early works from beloved singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, including short stories, a novel, and a radio play. The titular novel, Cohen believed, was “probably a better novel” than his celebrated book The Favorite Game . These recovered gems traffic in the themes that would always obsess their author, like shame, desire, and longing. Cohen’s life and art have been dissected for years, but as this revealing volume proves, there are still new shades of him to discover.

Lost & Found, by Kathryn Schultz

Eighteen months before Schultz’s father died after a long battle with cancer, she met the love of her life. It’s this painful dichotomy that sets the foundation for Lost & Found , a poignant memoir about how love and loss often coexist. Braiding her personal experiences together with psychological, philosophical and scientific insight, Schultz weaves a taxonomy of our losses, which can “encompass both the trivial as well as the consequential, the abstract and the concrete, the merely misplaced and the permanently gone.” But so too does she celebrate the act of discovery, from finding what we’ve mislaid to lucking into lasting love. Penetrating and profound, Lost & Found captures the extraordinary joys and sorrows of ordinary life.

Less Is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer

In 2018, Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for Less , an unforgettable comic novel about aging writer Arthur Less and his international misadventures. Less is back for more in this beguiling sequel, bursting with just as much absurdity, heartache, and laugh-out-loud joy as its predecessor. Dogged by financial crisis and the death of his former lover, Less sets out across the American landscape with nothing but a rusty camper van, a somber pug, and a zigzagging itinerary of literary gigs. Our reluctant hero blunders his way into a cascade of disasters, but the more lost Less gets, the closer he is to being found. Rambunctious and life-affirming, Less is Lost is a winsome reminder of all that fiction can do and be. As Greer writes of novelists, “Are we not that fraction of old magic that remains?” Read an exclusive interview with the author here at Esquire.

Fairy Tale, by Stephen King

The master of horror turns his talents to coming-of-age fantasy in this spellbinding tale about seventeen-year-old Charlie Reade, a resourceful teenager who inherits the keys to a parallel world. It all starts when Charlie meets Mr. Bowditch, a local recluse living in a spooky house with his lovable hound. When Mr. Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie the house, a massive stockpile of gold, and the keys to a locked shed containing a portal to another world. But as Charlie soon discovers, that parallel world is full of danger, dungeons, and time travel—and it has the power to imperil our own universe. Packed with glorious flights of imagination and characteristic tenderness about childhood, Fairy Tale is vintage King at his finest. Read an exclusive excerpt here at Esquire.

The Furrows, by Namwali Serpell

Fresh off the stratospheric achievement of The Old Drift , Serpell’s sophomore novel is a wrenching examination of grief, memory, and reality. When Cassandra Williams was twelve years old, her seven-year-old brother Wayne drowned off the Delaware coast. Or did he? While the first half of The Furrows examines the long half-life of Cassandra’s grief, the second half gets slippery, exploring the possibility that Wayne survived. As the blurry boundaries between what’s true and what’s possible collapse, Serpell resets her novel again and again, like a scratched record skipping back to the beginning. Old wounds never heal, and Cassandra can’t stop revisiting them. Let this breathtaking novel roll over you in waves.

The Book of Goose, by Yiyun Li

Time and time again, Li has proven herself a master storyteller obsessed with the nature of storytelling. In her latest novel, she takes that obsession to spectacular new heights. Set in the ruined countryside of post-WWII France, The Book of Goose centers on the friendship between shy Agnès and rebellious Fabienne. Fabienne devises a game: she will imagine a lurid story, and Agnès, with her perfect penmanship, will write it. When the book becomes a runaway bestseller credited to Agnès alone, it propels the girls on a trajectory of fame and fortune that threatens to sever their friendship. Fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels will love this gripping tale of art, power, and intimacy.

Liberation Day, by George Saunders

The godfather of the contemporary short story is back and better than ever in Liberation Day , his first collection of short fiction in nearly a decade. In one memorable story set in a near future police state, a grandfather explains how Americans lost their freedoms through small concessions to an authoritarian government. In another standout, vulnerable Americans are brainwashed and reprogrammed as political protestors, with their services available to the highest bidder. The rousing title novella sees the poor enslaved to entertain the rich, forced to recreate scenes from American history. In these powerful and perceptive stories, Saunders conjures a nation in moral and spiritual decline, where acts of kindness wink through like lights in the darkness.

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Adrienne Westenfeld is the Books and Fiction Editor at Esquire, where she oversees books coverage, edits fiction, and curates the Esquire Book Club. 

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The Best Books of 2022

Yes, this list features more than one book set in a postapocalyptic world, but have you looked around lately.

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In a year when mega-best-selling authors and literary heavy hitters published new books (it’s okay — Cormac McCarthy won’t be reading this), how thrilling to see less familiar names and voices flourish. It’s a perfect time to pick up a book by a writer you’ve never read before. And, yes, this list features more than one book set in a postapocalyptic world, but have you checked social media lately?

10. X , by Davey Davis

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Davey Davis’s neo-noir novel reads like a cross between Raymond Chandler and Jean Genet. The book follows Lee, a sadist, through a near-future underground queer scene as they go on the lookout for X, a woman they met at a warehouse party and can’t stop thinking about. Rumor has it that the fascist government has served her export papers (an Orwellian term for what is essentially expulsion of undesirables), and if Lee doesn’t find her soon, they never will. Davis is an excellent stylist who skillfully blends the hard-boiled tone of classic detective novels with the ironic detachment of millennials raised on the internet. Equal parts funny, insightful, and ruthless, X is a sexy and paranoid thriller about the lengths we go to get what we want — and the toll obsession can take. —Isle McElroy

9. Seduced by Story , by Peter Brooks

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Society’s obsession with the résumé, and its use to construct an aura of credibility, is such a pervasive element of contemporary life that it inevitably implicates even the author and his own field of “literary humanities.” But that dynamic is exactly what Peter Brooks parses in his terrific critical survey: the essential differences between surface stories and the ways in which they’re constructed. It culminates in a postscript about how narratives impose themselves on the American judicial system that articulates a deeper parable about the ease of manipulating facts to one’s ends. The parameters of one’s story are personal; the onus of calling bullshit rests on us. —J. Howard Rosier

8. All This Could Be Different , by Sarah Thankam Mathews

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Set in the wake of the Great Recession, All This Could Be Different is primed for a long life as a canonical queer coming-of-age novel. It follows Sneha, a woman who moves to Milwaukee after college for a job she despises and who decides, in her words, to “be a slut.” Sneha is a perfectly imperfect narrator. Her mistakes are massive, her desires contagious, her lies unjugglable. Sarah Thankam Mathews’s debut, written in prose as sharp and bright as a sword in the sun, offers an honest portrait of how alluring it is to hide from yourself in the process of finding yourself. And though Mathews includes a gripping romantic thread in the novel, All This Could Be Different truly shines as a love letter to the role that friendships play in times of crisis, as Sneha must reluctantly accept how deeply she needs community to survive. —I.M.

7. 2 A.M. in Little America , by Ken Kalfus

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Ken Kalfus has spent his decades-long career mostly out of the mainstream — a writer’s writer with a blurb from David Foster Wallace to prove it — but 2 A.M. in Little America belongs among the year’s biggest hits. The speculative novel finds Ron Patterson, a humble security technician, in a world post–America’s fall. Avoiding specifics about what exactly happened to destroy the U.S. — does it really matter? — and how the rest of the world is responding, Kalfus follows Patterson as he moves from country to country, searching for asylum in a place that hasn’t closed its borders to U.S. citizens. Throughout, a sense of paranoia pervades, growing as Patterson is thrust unwillingly into the center of a conflict between factions that refuse to take advantage of their new ad hoc homes on the margins of a country that barely tolerates them. It’s bewildering and alarming and often darkly funny at the hapless Patterson’s expense, a scarily believable future. But it’s also a humbling glimpse of the circumstances millions of refugees are actually facing — a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God experience that shouldn’t be necessary to evoke empathy but certainly maximizes it. —Arianna Rebolini

6. The Furrows, by Namwali Serpell

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Namwali Serpell’s provocative second novel follows C, a young biracial girl in Baltimore who witnesses the death of her younger brother, Wayne. What seems like a simple premise quickly becomes dark and twisted through the author’s expert use of repetition: Every few chapters, the book resets and C is forced to watch Wayne die yet again. As the book progresses, C finds more ways to attempt to cope with her grief — from distancing herself from her mother’s delusions that Wayne will one day return to developing an intimate relationship with a man who deeply reminds her of Wayne — but in the end, C and her family are forced to face their sorrows head-on. Unflinching first-person narration and lyric prose make C’s grief feel visceral, allowing the reader to mourn along with her each time Wayne passes away. At once heartfelt and dizzying, The Furrows is a powerful meditation on riding out the waves of grief. —Mary Retta

5. Siren Queen , by Nghi Vo

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In an alternate version of pre-Code Hollywood, in which aspiring actors often meet their ends as fodder for the sinister ritual magic that powers the studio system, Luli Wei is determined to be a star. The odds, of course, are stacked against her as a gay Chinese American woman, but, driven by her ambition and willingness to play the studio heads’ dark game, she finds her breakout role — not as a heroine but as a monster. As she sinks further into the murk of the industry, risking her own soul in the process, Luli finds love (and a greater purpose, if she has the strength to see it through). Coming hot on the heels of last year’s The Chosen and the Beautiful , a queer, immigrant reimagining of The Great Gatsby , Siren Queen establishes Vo as an uncommonly talented new voice in fantasy, one who writes from a place of anger, insight, and deep compassion. — Emily Hughes

4. Strangers to Ourselves , by Rachel Aviv

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Rachel Aviv set herself a seemingly impossible task in her mindful debut: to write about people who occupy the “psychic hinterlands, the outer edges of human experience, where language tends to fail.” Her language assuredly does not fail. Strangers to Ourselves plaits personal narrative — it opens with Aviv being hospitalized at age 6 for anorexia — with stories of other tough cases, including a Brahman woman diagnosed with schizophrenia and a nephrologist who ran a successful dialysis business until he was institutionalized for depression (“a Horatio Alger story in reverse,” as he wryly puts it). Where conventional case studies might freeze erratic or socially deviant behaviors in the aspic of pathology, Aviv sensitively fills in what those narratives leave out. The result is a work of fierce moral intelligence: In withholding judgment and letting her subjects speak for themselves, Aviv grants them the dignity that society has so often denied. —Rhoda Feng

3. The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On , by Franny Choi

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The notion, so enthusiastically propagated by many news outlets, that our current moment is careering toward catastrophe may leave an audience on high alert. But to a certain reader — BIPOC/ALAANA, diasporic, marginalized — that’s old news. That position animates Franny Choi’s latest collection of poetry, which neutralizes the feeling of apocalyptic panic by showing that xenophobia and brutality within an unequal society are, indeed, nothing new. Compounding the weariness of the past several years with that of the ages flies rather close to despair, but World eludes cynicism to cast generational trauma as a paean to survival: “Every day, an extinction misfires, and I put it to work.” — J.H.R.

2. Easy Beauty , by Chloé Cooper Jones

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Pulitzer Prize finalist, doctor of philosophy, and general multi-hyphenate Chloé Cooper Jones’s debut shifted my understanding of a world I’ve experienced only while able-bodied. Easy Beauty follows Jones — who was born with a rare congenital condition known as sacral agenesis, a disability that visibly sets her apart from the general population and that has caused a lifetime of underlying pain — through a series of trips in pursuit of meaning, both personal and existential. This narrative propels the book while providing detours for the exploration of her life, and theories about beauty, a concept that has defined much of it. The through-line is the titular theory and its opposite — i.e., easy versus difficult beauty; i.e., beauty that is obvious versus beauty that makes you work for it — and the genius of Easy Beauty is in its functioning as the latter. It’s heady but accessible. Jones puts us through the wringer a bit, trusting us to keep up with her analyses and forcing us to stay close to her physical and emotional pain, but the result is extraordinary. —A.R.

1. Manhunt , by Gretchen Felker-Martin

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In an era of cultural remakes, remixes, knockoffs, and infinite bland variations on corporate IP, it’s all too rare to encounter a book like Manhunt — a true original that not only eviscerates an existing subgenre (gender-based apocalypse stories like Y: The Last Man , in this case) but also plants a flag in its steaming corpse and says, “This is the future of queer horror.”

Anger simmers underneath every word of Gretchen Felker-Martin’s prose as she tells a story of trans women and men fighting for survival after a plague transforms anyone with a certain amount of testosterone in their system into a feral monstrosity. In the world of Manhunt , the already life-or-death nature of transition is taken to new heights: Protagonists Beth and Fran have to scavenge enough estrogen to keep from succumbing to the virus, while Robbie tries to forge a life in a state of persistent dysphoria since taking testosterone is a death sentence. Their odyssey across a postapocalyptic New England showcases an array of threats, from feral men to militant TERFs, self-loathing chasers to rich-idiot survivalists. The book is timely, visceral, grotesque, unflinching, and unexpectedly fun, full of sex and gore and messy, beautiful humanity; think of it as The Road with a sense of humor and 110 percent more queer sex. —E.H.

Honorable Mentions

All books are listed by U.S. release date.

Fiona and Jane , by Jean Chen Ho

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Fiona and Jane , by Jean Chen HoIn the short stories of Jean Chen Ho’s Fiona and Jane , the author tracks the titular characters’ childhood friendship into adulthood through everything from romantic betrayal to grief to dropping out of law school. The pair reinforce one another’s foibles — oversharing and navel-gazing — by feeding on one another’s psychic supply: An interchangeable sister-mother-friend-annelid dynamic ripe for transference is constructed in alternating perspective shifts that are like jump scares in their abrupt changeover. The result is a confidently nonlinear debut collection that sluices through the interiority of its protagonists without diminishing the passion and powerfully mysterious intimacy of female friendship. — Safy-Hallan Farah

Last Resort , by Andrew Lipstein

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Last Resort tells the story of Caleb, a frustrated writer who, after being told a gripping, true story by a college friend, Avi, steals the tale to serve as the plot of his own novel. What follows, at first, is entertaining drama — industry hype builds around the manuscript, Avi angrily finds out about the theft, and in one memorable scene, a bizarre contract is made between the two to resolve the dispute. But Last Resort really starts flying once that Faustian bargain has been made, and we’re left with Caleb in the wreckage. Strip away the insider-y publishing references (readings at Greenlight, the novelist Rachel Cusk, day trips to Storm King), and this is really a brilliant morality tale about what happens when a person refuses to learn from their mistakes, all the way down to the final scene, which had me laughing out loud and punching the air, even if it was at Caleb’s expense. — Louis Cheslaw

Dilla Time , by Dan Charnas

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Dan Charnas’s biography of the late legendary producer J Dilla is both a meticulously compiled, compellingly illuminative retread of his long path to stardom and a manifesto on the beatmaker’s true legacy. (To wit: In dragging his kick drums ever so slightly behind the rest of the beat, Dilla helped recontextualize the entire idea of rhythm in hip-hop.) Charnas turns what might be your run-of-the-mill chronicle into an exploration of the history of the producer’s native Detroit, a thoroughly detailed analysis of music production and genre, and a rumination on how a voracious, unassuming kid from Conant Gardens went on to become his generation’s Beethoven. — Alex Suskind

Pure Colour , by Sheila Heti

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Sheila Heti’s last two novels, How Should a Person Be? and Motherhood , treated self-doubt as a formal project: What shape can a writer give her own indecisiveness? Then, just as some parents of newborns find purpose and clarity, she emerged with a book full of declarations. In Pure Colour , God is preparing to scrap the first draft of existence and replace it with something better — a state of being that’s more humane, more egalitarian, and perhaps less vain. In the meantime, Heti relates the life of Mira, an aesthete, a critic, and a seller of fine lamps, as she grieves her father, whose corpse she’s taken up residency with inside of a leaf. The directness of Heti’s writing renders even her most twee scenes into something affecting. Of Mira’s work in the lamp store, for example, she writes, “The red and green stones shed its light upon her dark face and the white walls. And she loved her meager little existence, which was entirely her own.” — Maddie Crum

Read Jennifer Wilson’s review of Pure Colour .

Vladimir , by Julia May Jonas

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Julia May Jonas’s debut novel is an intimate portrait of a failing marriage, yes, but it’s also a look at the reconstruction of a life meticulously built whose foundation begins to crack, then crumble. A middle-aged lit professor has to decide whether to stick beside her husband, also a middle-aged professor at the same liberal arts college, who is being investigated by the school for sexual misconduct with former students. Enter the titular Vladimir, an accomplished younger writer who’s the newest tenured professor. Suddenly, she’s bursting with desire — the kind that inspires her to write a book, masturbate, and ignore her increasingly needy husband. It’s self-conscious in the best way, sharp and observant without being didactic, something I’ve found to be increasingly rare. — Tembe Denton-Hurst

Then the War , by Carl Phillips

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In Then the War , Carl Phillips’s newest poetry collection, he continues his exploration of love’s power dynamics. Clearing, garden, backyard, forest, path: Transitive spaces of nature act as both shelter, in which Phillips can cultivate his feelings of shame, longing, and queer desire into the fruit of self-expression, and battlefield, where destruction of the self and the other fertilize the ground for new forms of interior life. Through concise lyricism — in “Blue-Winged Warbler,” he locates “a nest of swords” somewhere “deep in the interstices // where dream and waking dream and what, between the two, I’ve called a life” — this produce is as likely to be imbued with the bitter weight of regret as it is to have sweet evanescence, mirroring back at us ideals, desires, and other possible selves, lost to us or left behind the very moment they’re glimpsed. — Alex Watkins

The Employees , by Olga Ravn

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Aboard the Six-Thousand Ship, sometime in the 22nd century, employees are encouraged to be present-minded lest they lose themselves to memories of Earth and of their left-behind loved ones. Such nostalgia is not productive and is bound to interfere with their work performance. The Employees , translated from Danish by Martin Aitken, is made up of interviews with these workers, some of whom are human, others humanoid, although the distinction is at times made unclear. To stave off melancholy — another deterrent to work — they’re given child holograms and stimulating objects with which to interact. Unsurprisingly, labor peace eludes the ship, and a workplace novel devolves into a full-blown horror story, leaving behind few survivors. This is more than a clever reframing of sci-fi tropes, although it’s that, too; the employees’ voices themselves, some of them desperate, some of them meditative, form a touching, alienated chorus, narrating a tragedy that for many will ring eerily true. — M.C.

Checkout 19 , by Claire-Louise Bennett

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As in her first book, the exuberant and formally inventive Pond , Claire-Louise Bennett’s second novel is moving in its sentence-level, voice-driven rhythms that relate scenes from a British schoolgirl’s first and most formative encounters with books and with invention — silly, strange, and touching moments in their intimacy. The epigraph for one chapter is an excerpt from John Milton’s pamphlet Areopagitica on the vitality of books that are free to be expressive, confessional, heretical, even; they project “a potency of life” and “preserve as in a vial the efficacy … of that living intellect that bred them.” It’s a familiar premise, that reading and creativity are life-giving, but in her stylish künstlerroman, Bennett gives the premise new life. — M.C.

Run and Hide , by Pankaj Mishra

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Asian immigrant narratives in American fiction tend to follow a familiar script: Person arrives in the West wiped clean of caste tension, the relationships they had to money, class, and ambition in their home country subsumed by the fact of their recent arrival. In Pankaj Mishra’s second novel, Run and Hide , he reorients this narrative of escape to tell a stickier tale. His protagonist Arun is a poor young Indian man whose life becomes intertwined with two ladder-climbing university classmates and, eventually, a wealthy younger lover — the kind of expat for whom borders hold little transformative power. Mishra is a public intellectual and regular contributor to the London Review of Books as well as a rare and talented fiction writer: Here, he braids a headlong plot with commentary on what you lose while trying to make it big — and what you gain when you opt out. — Madeline Leung Coleman

Oedipus Tyrannos , by Sophocles

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Emily Wilson is one of my favorite working classicists; I’ve followed her since she wrote a deliciously biting review of a Hesiod translation for the New York Review of Books . The new Norton Library edition of her translation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos (also known by its Roman title, Oedipus Rex , which Wilson describes as a spoiler) is full of the historiographical precision and literary clarity I associate with Wilson’s other works, including her 2018 translation of The Odyssey . Wilson’s translation notes alone are a delight — translating Sophocles, she aims for an idiom that is “fluent, humane, natural, and also markedly artful; sometimes conversational, but never slangy … sometimes odd, but never stiff or unintentionally obscure.” Wilson’s verse captures the rich density of ancient poetry, and her notes also offer surprisingly funny insights into the play’s original context: An abundance of foot puns would sound less ridiculous to Athenian ears, and a final line she describes as “hokey” is characteristic of the “simplistic moralizing” that is “fairly common at the end of Athenian tragedy.” — Erin Schwartz 

The Doloriad , by Missouri Williams

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Missouri Williams’s debut novel begins after humanity has been destroyed by a natural catastrophe, the details of which we’re spared. Unlike in, say, Station Eleven , pre-apocalypse days aren’t the focus; instead, we spend our time with a struggling, sordid, incestuous family, possibly the last family left on earth. A woman — the Matriarch — and her brother take on the task of remaking humanity with a crew of their own children. Williams’s book bears resemblances to William Faulkner in its conceit, in its wending sentences, and in its images: Noses point “off to one side like a rudder.” At one point, the Matriarch disposes of a daughter’s body not in a casket but with a wheelbarrow. And what could be more Gothic, more suffocating and cloistered, than an apocalypse that left behind only you and your most overbearing family members? — M.C.

Glory, by NoViolet Bulawayo

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There is a long tradition in literary criticism of evaluating a new book by a writer from a marginalized community from the vantage point of an older book — usually by a white male writer. The supposed advantages of this approach are manifold: The older book might provide a point of entry for readers who are unwilling to do the work of understanding the newer book on its own terms, and the newer book can shine in the reflected glory of the older one as the wan moon to the older book’s sun. I mention this because just about every appraisal — including this one, unfortunately — you will read of NoViolet Bulawayo’s latest, brilliant novel, Glory , will reference Animal Farm by George Orwell. In this case, the comparison is warranted but also limiting. Bulawayo’s book traverses new territory on its own radically creative terms. This book, like Orwell’s, is made up of a cast of animals, but the comparisons grow weaker from there. My recommendation: Pick this up, leave any preconceptions aside, and dive right in. — Tope Folarin

The Candy House , by Jennifer Egan

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With The Candy House , Jennifer Egan accomplishes the rare feat of making a series of linked short stories feel like a complete, cohesive novel, one that imagines a parallel future where people are able to externalize their memories and upload them into a cloud. There are pluses: Murders are solved, the tragically separated are reunited, children get to truly know their parents. But there are downsides, too, mainly society’s collective immersion into a massive entangled web of constant surveillance. It feels like a slightly exaggerated version of our own current dilemma, down to shadowy countermovements desperate to dismantle the entire thing — if only we could all be so organized! Kaleidoscopic and epic and never boring, this sequel of sorts to 2010’s A Visit From the Goon Squad takes us from a country club to a tech start-up to a government operation on a remote island that we learn about through an instruction manual narrated in the second person. It’s a book unafraid of changing form because it’s married to this central cluster of ideas, and Egan thoroughly convinces us to come along for the ride. — T.D.H.

Read Mallika Rao’s review of The Candy House , by Jennifer Egan, and The Immortal King Rao, by Vauhini Vara.

Constructing a Nervous System , by Margo Jefferson

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If every foray into writing about one’s life constitutes a tense negotiation between the past and the present, Margo Jefferson’s latest, Constructing a Nervous System , refuses those terms . A sequel of sorts to her award-winning 2015 memoir,  Negroland , Jefferson takes the form and blows it up — in the smoldering debris, synapses of memory make new connections. Constructing blends autobiography and criticism to gift readers with reflections and ruminations on the place of music, aesthetics, and celebrity in one’s personal and shared racial history. The sweat of Ella Fitzgerald, the audacity of Ike Turner, the genius of Josephine Baker, the virtuosity of Bud Powell — interwoven here are the mystifying qualities and talents of those and many other artists, all of which come together to tell of a life that has been influenced by and in turn influenced so many others — Omari Weekes

Read Jasmine Sanders’s profile of Margo Jefferson.

A Tiny Upward Shove, by Melissa Chadburn

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On the first page of this startingly unconventional novel, we learn that the protagonist has been murdered and her body possessed by an avenging spirit called an aswang. This premise establishes the stakes of the story as an unflinching tale that privileges the brutal realities of its battered characters. The western impulse is to wave away or demystify anything that defies rational explanation, but this book advances a subtle, potent idea: The abuse that countless women — especially women of color — face is so extreme, so sadistic, that it cannot be classified as anything but supernatural, and so the response to this abuse must be supernatural as well. Melissa Chadburn’s is a harrowing and utterly unforgettable story.  — T.F.

Love Marriage , by Monica Ali

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When we meet 20-something Yasmin, her life appears to be approaching the precipice of perfection. She’s a doctor marrying a more senior, even-more-attractive doctor who worships the ground she walks on. Soon we meet her parents, Shaokat and Anisah, Indian immigrants who have managed to achieve their slice of the British dream. But when Yasmin introduces her family to his, their differences of class (and race — he and his family are white) are abundantly clear, and Yasmin, who goes through much of the book misunderstanding or being ashamed of her mother, is shocked to find that her husband’s accomplished feminist artist mother is completely taken with her son’s future mother-in-law. The book is always interrogating perfection, asking if everything peachy is as it seems. The answer is often no, but it doesn’t matter because there’s something so much more interesting in its place. — T.D.H.

The Women’s House of Detention , by Hugh Ryan

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Wild to think that within living memory, in the center of Greenwich Village’s present-day prettiness and wealth, stood one of the country’s most notorious prisons. The Women’s House of Detention, opened in 1932 at the foot of Greenwich Avenue and demolished in 1974, was grim, overcrowded, violent — and, in Hugh Ryan’s telling, a significant incubator of the Village’s queer history. Ryan has dredged social workers’ extensive documentation of life inside, and from their files, he has excavated horrifying stories of inmates’ abuse at the hands of the staff and other residents; he also reveals just how many of them awakened, while incarcerated, to their sexual identities. (A great many of those women were arrested for either sex work or public expressions of homosexuality, like cross-dressing.) Ryan argues that despite its miseries and dangers, the House of D, as it was often called, had the advantage of being a space where queer life could exist somewhat on its own terms. The building becomes a literary device, a vehicle for the recovered stories of its incarcerated as well as another affirmative point in the broader argument for prison abolition. — Christopher Bonanos

It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World that Made Him , by Justin Tinsely

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In all the barbershop arguments that shore up the Notorious B.I.G.’s deserved place as the greatest rapper of all time, it can be easy to lose sight of the human behind the lyrics. With It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made Him, Justin Tinsley goes to great lengths to provide an extensively well-researched and empathetic look at Christopher Wallace’s tremendous but brief career. The book gets at not just the trivia but the structural and cultural circumstances of his life, from growing up in Brooklyn’s public-housing projects during the Reagan era to living in America as a first-generation Caribbean man to entering the rap game during its innovative, lucrative 1990s heyday. Tinsley does as much as he can to get into Wallace’s dark exclamation mark, the fatal East Coast–West Coast rap beef — it’s still a hard narrative to crystallize, 25 years later — but throughout brings a journalist’s rigor to capturing the murky details of Biggie’s story, putting the legendary Brooklyn maestro in the proper context of the times he lived in. This is more than a biography, it’s a snapshot of both the record industry and America itself at crucial junctures for both. — Israel Daramola

DJ Screw: A Life in Slow Revolution , by Lance Scott Walker

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Robert Earl Davis Jr., better known as DJ Screw, helped define the ’90s and early aughts Texas rap sound with the advent of his warped, hypnotic cassette playlists, and this book is the ultimate word on both him and his seismic imprint — one that continues to linger in modern music, from the aesthetic of Travis Scott to the slowed-and-reverbed production behind the likes of Justin Bieber and Frank Ocean. His expertly curated playlists of the era’s best hip-hop and R&B tracks (with the occasional rock record thrown in) — tweaked with his namesake technique of slowing down and chopping them up — paired well with Houston’s drug and nightlife culture; Lance Scott Walker transubstantiates Screw’s lore into something more permanent and tangible, interviewing just about everyone that ever knew the DJ, along with a number of aficionados and famous fans of his that helped make the Screw tape the hip-hop fetish objects that they have become in the decades since Davis’s death. — I.D.

An Island , by Karen Jennings

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This slim, capacious novel, recently longlisted for the Booker Prize , is an allegorical meditation on colonialism and its enduring aftermath. As the novel opens, we meet Samuel, the lone inhabitant of and lighthouse keeper on a harbor island. His isolation is interrupted by an unexpected visitor — a man who washes ashore. This stranger’s sudden appearance prompts Samuel to consider the span of his life and reflect on the events that led him to the island. The wonder of this novel is how expansive it is despite its length; Samuel’s life doubles as beachhead for an intense examination of postcolonial African politics, xenophobia, family and its discontents, and, inevitably, the nature and meaning of love. Everything coheres because of Jennings’s immaculate understanding of craft. Each polished narrative piece perfectly complements the next. This is a novel of contrasts: understated and bold, spare and sweeping, slender and grand. — T.F.

Avalon , by Nell Zink

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Have you heard? The zoomers are anxious, savvy, and very online, circulating bits of out-of-context theory and cultural references: How can such a thing as an IRL love story — or a plot of any kind — emerge from this carnival? Nell Zink’s Avalon is a valiant attempt; her crew of young artists bicker confidently about Marx and their dystopian screenplays, and they exist offline, too, on their parents’ couches, on a road trip to the desert, and in the lean-to on a biker gang’s farm. The Dickensian heroine, Bran, is an orphan at the heart of a smart and funny künstlerroman. She may know that the word used to describe her story’s genre is having a moment, but she’s too busy falling in love and evading danger to dwell long on trends. Like The Wallcreeper , Zink’s first book , Avalon is both fast paced and overtly interested in its ideas, challenging the false dichotomy of plot versus depth. — M.C.

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, by Akwaeke Emezi

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Akwaeke Emezi’s novels tend to begin with a bang, and this one’s no different. The first sentence reads, “Milan was the first person Feyi fucked since the accident.” It immediately sends the mind spinning. Who is Milan? Who is Feyi? What accident? Was the sex any good? This explosive entrance to the book sets the tone for what follows: a not-so-traditional love story that asks: How does someone love after their world ends? Emezi takes us to an unnamed Caribbean island to find out, in a lush journey filled with beautiful paragraphs about art and so many vivid food descriptions it’s best to read on a full stomach. Like Emezi’s previous novels, Freshwater and The Death of Vivek Oji, the book isn’t just about one thing. Sure, there’s a pretty scandalous take on the forbidden love trope that pushes it firmly into the romance space (it also gets a bit steamy!), but it’s also a snapshot into grief many years after a life-changing incident. — T.D.H.

Fruiting Bodies , by Kathryn Harlan

books ranking 2022

It is perhaps fitting that several of the short stories in Fruiting Bodies , science-fiction writer Kathryn Harlan’s debut, center on mushrooms: Much like the fungus, the characters in Harlan’s eight tales live among constant death and rot, and yet, somehow, they find surprisingly beautiful ways to keep growing. Harlan’s plots are impressively diverse: “Agal Bloom,” which follows two young girls daring each other to swim in a mysteriously contaminated lake against their families’ wishes, bleeds effortlessly into “Hunting the Viper King,” wherein a young girl and her father go on a yearslong search for a snake whose venom grants ultimate understanding of the universe. The worlds Harlan creates feel both expansively fantastical and palpably real. A stunning literary portrayal of the climate apocalypse, Fruiting Bodies provides a window into how we can make life out of decay. — Mary Retta 

Mothercare: On Obligation, Love, Death, and Ambivalence, by Lynne Tillman

books ranking 2022

When Lynne Tillman’s mother, Sophie, was diagnosed with a brain disorder called normal-pressure hydrocephalus at age 86, the writer began a long journey through the complexities of elder care. The condition, which left Sophie forgetful and unsteady, required a series of invasive surgeries, and she lived for 11 years after its sudden, startling onset. Her tenacity was confounding to the many doctors she encountered who were unaccustomed to prioritizing the lives of the elderly, and much of this memoir is about the defiance required of caretakers like Tillman in the face of the medical Establishment. At the center of it all is Tillman’s relationship with her mother, whom she describes as a competitive, distant personality she must nonetheless fight for fiercely. Her honesty about their irreconcilable disconnect is electrifying. — Emma Alpern

Afterlives , by Abdulrazak Gurnah

books ranking 2022

Abdulrazak Gurah, the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has crafted a wide-ranging, orchestral novel. Afterlives is set in East Africa in the early 20th century after the European powers of the day carved up Africa according to their colonial ambitions. Gurnah’s narrative approach is to foreground how colonialism infects and undermines every aspect of society by training our attention on the intimate details of his characters’ lives — every action they take is consciously (and oftentimes unconsciously) influenced by their desire to escape its grasp. His scenes are polished, elegant, and masterfully constructed, each building effortlessly upon the last until the final pages, when his glittering narrative mosaic, glimpsed only in flashes throughout the story, is fully revealed. You will want to start over so you can experience it again. — T.F.

My Phantoms , by Gwendoline Riley

books ranking 2022

Gwendoline Riley’s latest novel opens with Bridget’s childhood recollections of her blustering, dodgy father, but the character’s real fixation is her mother, Helen “Hen” Grant, a hopelessly naïve and needy figure. Bridget, now in her 40s, is hyperaware of all her mother’s little manipulations, and each of her verbal tics — the repeated “Mmm”s and “I don’t know”s, the botched jokes, the clumsy fake accents — are recorded in icy detail. Riley transcribes what other authors often skip , making her dialogue uncannily lifelike. The book is a study in irritation that unfolds with thrillerlike tension, except the central moments are less bank heist and more adversarial family dinner (a particularly memorable scene takes place in a vegetarian restaurant where Hen falls quiet while choking down a “detox salad”). By the end, the unjustness of the mother-daughter relationship takes on an unsettling new dimension. — E.A.

Read Rachel Connolly’s profile of author Gwendoline Riley .

Bright Unbearable Reality , by Anna Badkhen

books ranking 2022

In the opening pages of Bright Unbearable Reality , the latest collection of essays by Anna Badkhen, the writer poses a question that she promptly answers: “What is place? A memory of our presence, a memory of our absence.” In these lines one can glimpse the narrative design of this book and its primary obsession. Each of these essays is animated by questions that inspire Badkhen to immerse herself in various global contexts — the book is set on four continents — to understand how the places she visits have been shaped by humans, and how humans have been altered by them. We follow along as she leaves behind a trail of precise, glistening prose, and each time we arrive somewhere else we consider, once again, humanity’s shifting, unstable, and essential relationship with place. We have planted flags and drawn maps, but — as Badkhen brilliantly demonstrates — the intersecting challenges of the 21st century (climate, economic, epidemic) might force us to reconsider our conclusions. — T.F.

Toad , by Katherine Dunn

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Before 1989’s Geek Love shot her to success, Katherine Dunn spent years trying to find a publisher for her third book, a semi-autobiographical novel following Sally Gunnar, a woman who spent her college years on the fringes of the 1960s counterculture scene in Portland, Oregon. In a state of middle-age isolation, Sally looks back bitterly at the unfocused idealism of her young friend group: “The hermit has an evil eye that chills the memory and upsets the digestion,” she says in her narration. The central event from her student years is an ill-fated pregnancy involving the object of Sally’s affection, bright-eyed, philosophy-quoting Sam, that is drawn out with savage humor. After extensive revisions to the manuscript of Toad , which the author began writing in 1971, Dunn received a final rejection letter in 1977: “I love TOAD as much as ever, more, actually,” her editor wrote, but she was overruled by her colleagues. Long consigned to a drawer, the book has finally been posthumously published ( Dunn died in 2016 ). The novel is frightfully lovable, a brutal and baroque treatise on loneliness that shares a grotesque core with Dunn’s most famous novel. — E.A.

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The New York Times Best Sellers - December 17, 2023

Authoritatively ranked lists of books sold in the united states, sorted by format and genre..

This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only.

  • Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

FOURTH WING by Rebecca Yarros

31 weeks on the list


by Rebecca Yarros

Violet Sorrengail is urged by the commanding general, who also is her mother, to become a candidate for the elite dragon riders.

  • Apple Books
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Books-A-Million

IRON FLAME by Rebecca Yarros

4 weeks on the list

The second book in the Empyrean series. Violet Sorrengail’s next round of training might require her to betray the man she loves.

UNNATURAL DEATH by Patricia Cornwell

New this week


by Patricia Cornwell

The 27th book in the Kay Scarpetta series. Scarpetta must discover the murderer of two campers who were wanted by federal law enforcement.

THE EXCHANGE by John Grisham

7 weeks on the list


by John Grisham

In a sequel to “The Firm,” Mitch McDeere, who is now a partner at the world’s largest law firm, gets caught up in a sinister plot.


5 weeks on the list


by James McBride

Secrets held by the residents of a dilapidated neighborhood come to life when a skeleton is found at the bottom of a well.

  • Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction

THE WOMAN IN ME by Britney Spears

6 weeks on the list


by Britney Spears

The Grammy Award-winning pop star details her personal and professional experiences, including the years she spent under a conservatorship overseen by her father.


105 weeks on the list


by David Grann

The story of a murder spree in 1920s Oklahoma that targeted Osage Indians, whose lands contained oil.


21 weeks on the list


by Matthew Perry

The late actor, known for playing Chandler Bing on “Friends,” shares stories from his childhood and his struggles with sobriety.

MY NAME IS BARBRA by Barbra Streisand


by Barbra Streisand

The EGOT winner chronicles her journey in show business and reveals details about some of her personal relationships.

THE WAGER by David Grann

32 weeks on the list

The survivors of a shipwrecked British vessel on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain have different accounts of events.

  • Hardcover Fiction

30 weeks on the list

15 weeks on the list


82 weeks on the list


by Bonnie Garmus

A scientist and single mother living in California in the 1960s becomes a star on a TV cooking show.


  • Hardcover Nonfiction

PREQUEL by Rachel Maddow

by Rachel Maddow

The MSNBC host and co-author of “Bag Man” details a campaign to overthrow the U.S. government and install authoritarian rule prior to and during our involvement in World War II.

  • Paperback Trade Fiction

ICEBREAKER by Hannah Grace

42 weeks on the list

by Hannah Grace

Anastasia might need the help of the captain of a college hockey team to get on the Olympic figure skating team.


101 weeks on the list


by Anthony Doerr

The lives of a blind French girl and a gadget-obsessed German boy before and during World War II.


25 weeks on the list


by Ana Huang

The first book in the Twisted series. Secrets emerge when Ava explores things with her brother’s best friend.


143 weeks on the list


by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A movie icon recounts stories of her loves and career to a struggling magazine writer.

THE HOUSEMAID by Freida McFadden


by Freida McFadden

Troubles surface when a woman looking to make a fresh start takes a job in the home of the Winchesters.

  • Paperback Nonfiction

144 weeks on the list

The story of a murder spree in 1920s Oklahoma that targeted Osage Indians, whose lands contained oil. The fledgling F.B.I. intervened, ineffectively.

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel van der Kolk

267 weeks on the list


by Bessel van der Kolk

How trauma affects the body and mind, and innovative treatments for recovery.



by Dave Grohl

A memoir by the musician known for his work with Foo Fighters and Nirvana.


24 weeks on the list


by Dolly Alderton

The British journalist shares stories and observations; the basis of the TV series.


9 weeks on the list


by Rashid Khalidi

An account of the history of settler colonialism and resistance, based on untapped archival materials and reports.

  • Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous



by Nicole LePera

ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear

210 weeks on the list


by James Clear

HOW TO KNOW A PERSON by David Brooks


by David Brooks



by Ree Drummond

THE CREATIVE ACT by Rick Rubin with Neil Strauss

46 weeks on the list


by Rick Rubin with Neil Strauss

  • Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover


176 weeks on the list


by America's Test Kitchen Kids

Over 100 kid-tested recipes from America's Test Kitchen.


59 weeks on the list


One hundred plus kid-tested baking recipes.

WINGS OF FIRE: A GUIDE TO THE DRAGON WORLD by Tui T. Sutherland. Illustrated by Joy Ang


by Tui T. Sutherland. Illustrated by Joy Ang

A deeper dive into the legends of the 10 dragon tribes.

THE HARRY POTTER WIZARDING ALMANAC by J.K. Rowling. Various illustrators

8 weeks on the list


by J.K. Rowling. Various illustrators

An official companion to the seven Harry Potter novels.

THE SUN AND THE STAR by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro


by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro

The demigods Will and Nico embark on a dangerous journey to the Underworld to rescue an old friend.

  • Children’s Picture Books

HOW TO CATCH AN ELF by Adam Wallace. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

38 weeks on the list


by Adam Wallace. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

A tiny narrator dodges traps while making the Christmas rounds.


13 weeks on the list


by Mo Willems

The pigeon has his sights set on driving Santa's sleigh.

HOW TO CATCH SANTA CLAUS by Alice Walstead. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton


by Alice Walstead. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

The How to Catch Kids attempt to snare Santa Claus.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS by Adam Rubin. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

424 weeks on the list


by Adam Rubin. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

What to serve your dragon-guests.

THE BIG CHEESE by Jory John. Illustrated by Pete Oswald


by Jory John. Illustrated by Pete Oswald

The Big Cheese learns a lesson in humility.

  • Children’s Series

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

304 weeks on the list


by Suzanne Collins

In a dystopia, a girl fights for survival on live TV.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney

768 weeks on the list


written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney

The travails and challenges of adolescence.

HARRY POTTER by J.K. Rowling

767 weeks on the list


by J.K. Rowling

A wizard hones his conjuring skills in the service of fighting evil.


701 weeks on the list


by Rick Riordan

A boy battles mythological monsters.


85 weeks on the list


by Jenny Han

A beach house, summer love and enduring friendships.

  • Young Adult Hardcover

MURTAGH by Christopher Paolini

by Christopher Paolini

Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn, must find and outwit a mysterious witch.

DIVINE RIVALS by Rebecca Ross


by Rebecca Ross

Two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection.

BETTING ON YOU by Lynn Painter


by Lynn Painter

Charlie and Bailey place bets on the love lives of others, while fighting the feelings they have for each other.

POWERLESS by Lauren Roberts

by Lauren Roberts

Forbidden love is in the air when Paedyn, an Ordinary, and Kai, an Elite, become romantically involved.

NIGHTBANE by Alex Aster

by Alex Aster

In this sequel to "Lightlark," Isla must chose between her two powerful lovers.

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Best Books of the Year

Find the best books of years past, including our list of the best books of 2023.

Browse the Best Books of 2023

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2023 B&N Book of the Year Winner

by James McBride

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store (2023 B&N Book of the Year)

From the author of Deacon King Kong and National Book Award winner The Good Lord Bird comes the Barnes & Noble 2023 Book of the Year, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, a stunning novel about a small town and the bonds of community that are formed between marginalized groups in order to survive.

Learn more about The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store on Poured Over: The B&N Podcast and read more about James McBride on B&N Reads .

2023 Barnes & Noble Author of the Year

David grann.

David Grann is the inaugural recipient of the Author of the Year award from Barnes & Noble in 2023, celebrating his impressive array of achievements that began in 2009 with The Lost City of Z and extended into 2023 with The Wager and the film adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon . Grann’s writing style, mixing thriller-like stakes and riveting history, solidifies him as one of the literary world’s essential nonfiction voices.

Learn more about The Wager on Poured Over: The B&N Podcast and read more about David Grann on B&N Reads .

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

The Best of the Natural World​

Lose yourself in the wonders of nature and the way this world speaks. See all 70 of our Best Books of 2023 lists here .

Entangled Life: The Illustrated Edition: How Fungi Make Our Worlds

The Best Fiction of 2023

The Berry Pickers (B&N Discover Prize Winner)

The Best Mysteries of 2023

The Last Devil to Die (Thursday Murder Club Series #4)

The Best Science Fiction of 2023

Starter Villain

The Best Romance of 2023

The Graham Effect (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Campus Diaries, #1)

More of the Best Fiction of 2023


The Best Biographies & Memoirs of 2023

My Name Is Barbra

The Best History of 2023

The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History (National Book Award Winner)

The Best Cookbooks of 2023

Baking Yesteryear: The Best Recipes from the 1900s to the 1980s

More of the Best Nonfiction of 2023

Literary Nonfiction

The Best Teens & YA Books of 2023

Heartstopper, Volume 5

The Best Books of 2023 for Kids

Picture Books

The Best Libros en español of 2023

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter/Yo no soy tu perfecta hija Mexicana (B&N Exclusive Edition)

The Best Audiobooks of 2023

My Name Is Barbra

More of the Best Books of 2023

New York Times Best Books of 2023

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The Best Books of 2022 So Far

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All products featured on Vogue are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

One of the best parts of working at a magazine? The piles of books that arrive months before the rest of the world gets to see them. But the influx can often be overwhelming, so when something rises to the top, we like to take note. We have been collecting and curating our favorite titles all year; here we present our selection of the best books that have been published in 2022.  

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan (January 4)

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The School for Good Mothers

Jessamine Chan’s debut—like all truly terrifying nightmares—starts off in a banal, familiar way: an utterly exhausted mother, in a moment of sleep-deprived despair, does the unthinkable (and yet understandable) and walks out of her apartment, leaving her baby behind. She doesn’t intend to be gone for long, but somehow time slips away, and before she realizes it, she’s been gone for hours. It’s a terrible thing to have done, and she knows it. But no degree of contrition will spare her from the authorities who descend, first removing her child and then transplanting her to an abandoned college campus turned dystopian re-education facility where she will, ostensibly, learn what it truly takes to be a good mother. The tool for her forensically monitored progress is an uncanny robot baby, meant to stimulate her, challenge her, and, crucially, record her every movement, from loving gestures to instants of inattention. The School for Good Mothers (Simon & Schuster) picks up the mantel of writers like Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro , with their skin-crawling themes of surveillance, control, and technology; but it also stands on its own as a remarkable, propulsive novel. — Chloe Schama

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez (January 4)

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Olga Dies Dreaming

Xochitl Gonzalez’s debut novel is a vivacious account of Olga Acevedo’s life as a premier party planner to Manhattan’s elite—a demanding job that opens with the ordering of luxurious embroidered linen napkins for an exorbitantly priced wedding, some which Olga will pocket to impress her own family. The contiguity of Olga’s career life and her familial roots in Puerto Rican Brooklyn creates a tension that ultimately underlines the sacrifices each world constantly asks Olga to upkeep. Gonzalez’s story may be that of a woman seeking career success, love, and happiness, but the dynamic story amounts to a slow-burn chronicle of the American Dream, with moments of humor and bare-bones honesty throughout. —Carolina Gonzalez

Lost and Found by Kathryn Schulz (January 11)

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Lost and Found

The first half of Kathryn Schulz’s new book, Lost and Found (Random House), a sensitive and timely meditation on loss and grief, is balanced by the celebration of love and joy in the second half. But rather than the spoonful-of-sugar structure that this division implies, the book is united—even in its darkest moments—as a lively exploration of some of the strongest emotions we humans have the luck to feel and a wondrous look at how they work in tandem. As Schulz puts it in the book: “What an astonishing thing to find someone. Loss may alter our sense of scale, reminding us that the world is overwhelmingly large while we are incredibly tiny. But finding does the same; the only difference is that it makes us marvel rather than despair.” The book grew out of a New Yorker meditation, “ Losing Streak ,” which chronicles the experience of misplacing the mundane and suffering the utmost loss, but it moves far beyond it—into the literary, historical, and philosophical roots of both poles of experience. It offers a sure- and light-footed wander through these heavy topics, though, written with grace and comedy as well as rigor. —C.S.

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson (January 11)

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Mouth to Mouth

A chance run-in at an airport between our nameless narrator, a down-on-his-luck writer, and an acquaintance from college who has now become an art-world hotshot, Jeff Cook, sets the stage for Antoine Wilson’s taut, compulsive chamber piece of a novel, which you’ll struggle not to rip through in one sitting. (Thankfully it clocks in at a brisk 192 pages, allowing you to do just that.) After settling in an airport lounge, the enigmatic Jeff begins recounting a wild (and allegedly never-before-shared) tale that begins with him resuscitating a drowning man on a beach and discovering after the fact that the man he saved is a major art dealer. When Jeff pays a visit to his gallery and realizes the man doesn’t remember him, he slowly begins ingratiating himself into his life, climbing the ranks of his gallery and eventually even dating his daughter, in a story that carries distinct shades of Patricia Highsmith and Donna Tartt—but to tell any more would spoil the book’s thrilling surprises. It may not come with any sweeping messages or moral takeaways (although that ambivalence is surely the point), but Mouth to Mouth is an elegantly told and supremely gripping tale of serendipity and deception—and delivers a brilliant ending that will leave you guessing about everything that came before. —Liam Hess

I Came All This Way to Meet You by Jami Attenberg (January 11)

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I Came All This Way to Meet You

Jami Attenberg’s 2017 novel, All Grown Up , was a bit of a gateway drug. It felt like it was made for me, in that it reminded me of me: a 30-something Jewish woman looking for love in the big city. I assumed, as often is the case for many fine novels, that this was also Attenberg’s story. Her latest book (and first memoir), I Came All This Way to Meet You (Ecco), reveals that the New Orleans–based writer is even more layered and idiosyncratic than her fictional characters. Her newest is an episodic collection of Attenberg’s life—her cross-country travels, debilitating injuries, bad plane rides, bad boyfriends—which are all told through her signature intimate and humorous style. But it’s her writing on her own work I found particularly revealing. “I became a fiction writer in the first place because stories are a beautiful place to hide,” she writes. I Came All This Way details the highs and lows of finding yourself through your work and living a creative life—it’s a thrill for superfans and newcomers alike. —Jessie Heyman

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (January 11)

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To Paradise

The confounding, brilliant, intricate, beautiful, horrific To Paradise is—if this string of adjectives did not sufficiently convey it—an extraordinary book. Divided into three seemingly distinct sections, positioned 100 years apart, the book is one part historical fiction (set in 1893), part present-ish-day chronicle (1993), and part futuristic sci-fi story (2093). (That last chapter, which must have been informed by, if not fully drafted within, the pandemic, presents a dystopian future filled with “cooling suits” required to venture outside and “decontamination chambers” to ward off the ever-present possibility of infection.) Those who consumed Yanagihara’s most recent work, A Little Life , will not be surprised that this book, like its predecessor, is interested in pain and suffering more than joy and happiness. But it is also a book full of gloriously painted scenes and tantalizing connection—and despite all its gutting turns, one that maintains an abiding hope for the possibility and power of love. (That may just be the only paradise truly on offer.) In and of themselves, some sections feel in some ways quite conventional, but taken together—with all of their extreme cliffhangers and unanswered questions—the stories seem to be asking: What do we want from a novel? Resolution is not available here, but some of the most poignant feelings that literature can elicit certainly are. —C.S.

Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James (January 18)

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For years, the world of elite prep schools was thought of in only the most romanticized terms; lacrosse games, leaf-festooned campuses, and, of course, educational values that prepared America’s next generation of winners to ascend their thrones. Kendra James’s Admissions (Grand Central) is a thorough, necessary, and overdue repudiation of that trope. In the memoir, James—now an admissions officer specializing in diversity recruitment for independent prep schools—looks back at the three years she spent at Taft, a private boarding school in Connecticut, recalling the insidious yet not particularly subtle racism she faced as the first African-American legacy student at the predominantly white institution. Admissions is a tale in the mold of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep , but instead of relegating the racism that is so often found in “well-meaning liberal” space to a parenthetical, the book addresses it head-on, boldly naming the confusion, fear, and trauma that can so often come with being the only person who looks like you in any given room. —Emma Specter

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas (February 1)

books ranking 2022

Vladimir: A Novel

The smartest take on campus culture comes by way of Julia May Jonas’s slyly hilarious Vladimir (Simon & Schuster). Don’t be dissuaded (or erroneously excited) by the romance-novel aesthetics of the cover. It’s the story of a somewhat lonely and embittered, and yet eminently appealing, English professor whose husband has been felled by a series of sexual assault allegations. But just how real were those allegations? It’s a question almost impossible to ask in real life, but deliciously explored here through our acerbic narrator, who has a quite pre-MeToo view of power, consent, and sexual politics. The titular Vladimir is a new professor in town and the subject of a crush on the part of the narrator that also veers off into deeply inappropriate territory. The novel works on several different registers at once, deftly layering comedy with subtle commentary in an entirely engrossing read. —C.S.

The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang (February 1)

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The Family Chao

For Asians in America, the perpetual foreigners, it’s the eternal question regardless of birthplace: How exactly does one become American ? This interrogation is keenly felt by immigrants and their children in particular, as Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, explores in-depth in The Family Chao (Norton), the story of the tyrannical proprietor of a small-town Wisconsin Chinese restaurant (The Fine Chao) and his three unhappy but obedient American-born sons (The brothers Karamahjong). When a scandal engulfs the Chaos, they’re forced to reconsider their place in the society they’ve toiled in and called home for decades, as well as their roles within the family itself. At times scathing and hilarious, the rollicking tale considers the thorny themes of assimilation, identity, pride, filial piety, transracial adoption, and interracial relationships. It’s a fine chaos indeed; you’ll never look at Chinese restaurant families the same. —L.W.M.

The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen (February 8)

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In her debut novel, The Arc (St. Martin’s Press), Tory Henwood Hoen has woven a bracingly entertaining antidote to the hellscape of online dating. Thirty-five-year-old branding wiz Ursula Bryne is in the grip of a third-life crisis, ambivalent about her job and unable to sustain a lasting relationship with anybody other than her cat. That is, until she is tapped to visit the lab of The Arc, a mysterious place that promises lasting love to those lucky enough to spend a week at its unnervingly glossy lab. Ursula is paired with Rafael, an improbably modest and handsome Yale grad blessed with a sense of humor and killer dance moves. The book wears its sci-fi lightly, focusing instead on anatomizing a whirlwind romance that begins to fray around the edges. As the duo’s faith in the arc’s highly proprietary pairing methodologies begins to falter, they are left to determine if they still buy into each other. Set in a privileged slice of pre-pandemic New York, the story has a sunny feel and a rich supply of semi-satirical backdrops, making pit stops at bro-infested tech conferences and members-only temples to fourth-wave feminism. With its intelligent and unfussy bent, the novel is foremost a plucky city romance that recalls the work of Laurie Colwin . Beneath the dystopian veil lies a thoroughly modern love story with old-fashioned heart. —Lauren Mechling

A Very Nice Girl by Imogen Crimp (February 8)

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A Very Nice Girl

Imogen Crimp’s A Very Nice Girl (Henry Holt) follows Anna, a talented young opera singer who is defying her provincial parents to carve out an artistic life for herself in London. That bohemian existence can prove, at times, a bit trying (she has to share a bed with her roommate and moves into a quasi-feminist commune where tampons are deemed a tool of the patriarchy), and so she takes refuge in the sterile quarters of her finance-professional boyfriend. The book eschews easy “tale of two cities” contrasts, however, and asks some serious if lightly deployed questions about the sacrifices, rewards, and worth of an artistic life (and how you pay for it). With some steamy sex scenes in the mix, Crimp feels like she’s channeling something of the Sally Rooney style: interior and complex, but also unafraid to incorporate corporeal forces among all the others that govern us. This is high-class romance at its best. —C.S.

Loss of Memory Is Only Temporary by Johanna Kaplan (February 15)

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Loss of Memory Is Only Temporary

A joy of discovery attends the publication of Johanna Kaplan’s Loss of Memory Is Only Temporary (Ecco)—a volume that gathers her cacophonous, mordantly funny stories from the 1960s and ’70s (and includes the contents of her prized debut, Other People’s Lives ). How had I never heard of Kaplan? You’ll wonder the same as you get swept up in the world of her slightly neurotic, status-aware postwar Jewish characters who mine humor from dislocation and anxiety. The bravura novella-length “Other People’s Lives” is the masterpiece here, a rollicking account of several days in the life of Louise Weil, a piercingly observant, mentally fragile young woman marooned in the ramshackle milieu of a Manhattan artistic couple who take a day trip to the country. It fizzes with the urbane energy of J.D. Salinger, Grace Paley, and Deborah Eisenberg—a restless delight. —Taylor Antrim

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka (February 22)

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The Swimmers

The Swimmers , by Julie Otsuka, begins at an underground pool in an unnamed city, where regulars find almost-sacred refuge in their favorite lanes and go-to strokes. (Others—like the “binge swimmers” who periodically rush the pool to melt off holiday pounds—are tolerated more than welcomed.) Yet as Otsuka’s elegant third novel wends on, its focus narrows to one swimmer in particular: an older woman for whom the water is a stabilizing, comfortingly familiar force. Even as dementia sets in, Alice knows exactly who she is at the pool—that is, until it closes, and she’s thrust headlong into the swirling memories, strained relationships, and ever-fracturing sense of self that await her on land. —Marley Marius

Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett (March 1)

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Checkout 19

The cryptic stream of consciousness that coursed through Claire-Louise Bennett’s 2015 debut short-story collection  Pond,  all told from the perspective of a single narrator who lives a solitary existence in a cottage on the west coast of Ireland, made her one of that year’s breakout new voices. Seven years later, Bennett returns with  Checkout 19,  a similarly impressionistic, and perhaps even more challenging, work of autofiction that further showcases her talents for blending the micro with the macro across a melting pot of genres, from seemingly autobiographical minutiae plumbed from her youth in Wiltshire to impressively erudite forays into literary criticism. While ostensibly it tells the story of a writer looking back on her formative years as a young woman, it’s easier to think about the book as a kind of tapestry. Once you allow yourself to get swept along by Bennett’s instinctive, synaptic abilities as a storyteller, the vivid textures of her sentences, and her subversive sense of humor,  Checkout 19  is a strange and delicious treat. —L.H.

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire (March 1)

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Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice In Her Head

Warsan Shire is perhaps best known for having her work featured in Beyoncé Knowles’s 2016 feature-length film, Lemonade , but the British-Somali poet is charting a new course with her first full-length poetry collection, Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in her Head (Random House), which weaves together the themes of migration, womanhood, Black identity, and intergenerational collection that Shire is so singularly gifted at exploring. Shire frequently draws on her own life to create her art, and the end result is a collection of poems that will shine as a beacon for marginalized communities everywhere (and, perhaps, inspire those who have always taken their own belonging for granted to think beyond the confines of their individual experience). —Emma Spector

The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke (March 21)

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The Invisible Kingdom

Chronic illness has been relegated to the margins of public consciousness for far too long, a reality that has only become more painfully stark since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. Tens of millions of Americans live with chronic, often “invisible” illnesses, and Yale Review editor Meghan O’Rourke’s book is a searing and thoroughly researched exploration of the pain and confusion that many of them go through in their quest to have their health issues taken seriously by the medical establishment—and, often, the world at large. —E.S.

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou (March 22)

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Taiwanese American writer Elaine Hsieh Chou’s debut novel, Disorientation , however, manages to tell a deeply vital and insightful story about Asian experience and identity in post-Trump America while still being absurdist to the point of IRL laughter. In the book, 29-year-old PhD student Ingrid Yang experiences a rupture in her calm, orderly life of writing her dissertation on late canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou (and coming home to her doting fiance, Stephen, a white literary translator with a penchant for mansplaining and Japanese-schoolgirl costumes) when she discovers that Chou is—wait for it—a total fiction, a character invented and embodied by one white man and propped up by another. Suddenly, Ingrid is thrust into a world of high-stakes espionage, book burnings, and campus protests and is forced to question the things most fundamental to her, including her field of study, her relationship, her friendships, and her identity as the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants living in the U.S. —E.S.

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (April 5)

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Young Mungo

Douglas Stuart’s new book bears a good deal of resemblance to his debut, Shuggie Bain , which was published quietly just before the pandemic to limited fanfare and then slowly became one of the most lauded novels of the year. (It was my personal favorite.) Young Mungo (Grove), like Shuggie , is told from the perspective of a young boy growing up in a Glasgow tenement with an alcoholic mother and little prospect of escape. But while Shuggie took the claustrophobia of that scenario and expanded it into a broad and treacherous emotional landscape, Young Mungo allows its protagonist to roam a bit wider, making it a more open and ambitious book. If Shuggie took after the great, detail-laden social realist novels of the late 19th century, Young Mungo feel more rooted in the 21st, with alternating settings, shifting time frames, and divergent plots that eventually converge to calamitous effect. Some early descriptions of the book, perhaps desiring to tamp down the inevitable bleakness of its premise, have emphasized a love affair that crosses religious and sectarian lines (and sheds new light on the divisions that plagued not just the more prominently troubled Ireland of the late 20th century but Scotland as well). And there is sporadic love (romantic and familial) to offer warmth and light within the novel’s terrifying expanse—but this is a book that sucks you into its darkness and makes you feel its profound, beating heart. —C.S.

Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek (April 5)

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Little Foxes Took Up Matches

In  Little Foxes Took Up Matches —a notable debut from the writer, editor, and translator Katya Kazbek—a sense of enchantment animates dreary post-Soviet Moscow, where a beautiful boy named Mitya lives in a crowded apartment on a stately old street. As a baby, Mitya swallowed an embroidery needle—or so he and his family believe—and he’s certain it made him immortal, like the folktale figure Koschei the Deathless; he discovers another kind of deliverance, and no small amount of danger, dressing up in his mother’s clothes, using her makeup, and letting his hair grow long. (He calls this persona Devchonka, or “girl.”) A queer coming-of-age narrative in every sense of the words, Kazbek’s novel is twisty, tragic, and deeply charming—an endearing exploration of the stories we tell and the people we find in order to live. —M.M.

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong (April 5)

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Time Is a Mother

In 2019, mere weeks after publishing his celebrated novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and receiving a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” Ocean Vuong’s mother died following a short battle with breast cancer. Yet if the title of Time Is a Mother, Vuong’s second poetry collection, appears to suggest this might be a circumscribed exploration of grief in the aftermath of this event, its approach is unusually wide angle. Stories of personal loss are woven into vignettes and memories that explore the most sweeping of subjects—addiction, racism, war, death, family—through Vuong’s gentle, modest voice and the occasional touch of wry humor. So, too, does he once again prove himself the rare writer in whose hands experiments with form can become a thing of beauty in and of themselves. With On Earth , Vuong used his experience as a poet to reshape the contours of the first-person novel into something more amorphous; here, his experience with prose feeds back into his poetry through cinematic poems like “Künstlerroman” and “Not Even,” where full, novelistic paragraphs are delicately strung together with single-word stanzas, open and closing like concertina windows into the lives of those whose stories they tell. (One of the few more overt tributes to his mother consists simply of an itemized list of her Amazon purchases, before delivering a gut punch in the form of a “warrior mom” breast cancer awareness T-shirt.) After all, despite its technical prowess, the most striking thing about Vuong’s writing will always be its warm, beating heart even in the face of life’s cruelties. The penultimate poem, “Dear Rose,” is written directly to his mother as a kind of sensorial biography of her journey as an immigrant from Vietnam to America—napalm on a schoolhouse, bullets in amber, churning fish sauce, dew-speckled roses—images both dazzling and devastating; in the end she simply leaves “a pink rose blazing in the middle of the hospital.” It’s a body of work as hauntingly beautiful as it is ultimately hopeful, and very possibly Vuong’s best yet. —L.H.

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan (April 5)

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The Candy House

Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House is something of a follow-up to her beloved A Visit From the Goon Squad . Composed of interconnected short pieces (featuring a few of the same characters that populated Goon Squad ), The Candy House is also united by the omnipresence of a sci-fi technology that doesn’t feel quite so far off from our current reality: a widely available memory download device that allows your consciousness (should you so desire) to live in an openly accessible cloud. The Candy House is a book that goes down deceptively easy. The writing is light and buoyant, the characters quite often a rollicking delight—energized by rock and roll; the countercultures of the ’60s and ’70s; high-wire acts of espionage; and technological subterfuge. But when you slow down and begin to parse the web that connects it all, the novel takes on increasing gravity. It’s a dazzling feat of literary construction that belies the profound questions at its core: Does technology aid our sense of narrative or obscure it? —C.S.

Nobody Gets Out Alive by Leigh Newman (April 12)

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Nobody Gets Out Alive

The funny, earthy, and compulsively readable stories in Leigh Newman’s debut collection, Nobody Gets Out Alive (Scribner), are about wildness in all its forms. The author’s home state of Alaska is vividly rendered in its untamed, frontier beauty—but so too are its denizens, who are fierce Alaskans with questionable taste in home decor and hilariously unrefined personalities. Newman, the author of a 2013 memoir, Still Points North (excerpted in Vogue ), which was also set in Alaska, is especially unsentimental on women—on girls kicking free of their fathers (or not); desperate mothers doing the best they can; and, in the prizewinning lead-off story, “Howl Palace,” a mordant widow who is not going gracefully into the good Alaskan night. Newman’s fiction recalls the flinty humor of Annie Proulx, Ann Patchett, and Antonya Nelson—excellent company to be in. —T.A. 

Hello Molly: A Memoir (April 12)

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Hello, Molly!

Molly Shannon’s memoir is much more than a celebrity tell-all—it would have to be, since it starts with unimaginable tragedy: When she was four, her mother and baby sister died in a car accident while her father was driving them home from a party at which he’d been drinking. Hello, Molly! is a story of resilience and resourcefulness; her father cycled through various degrees of indulgence and sobriety for most of her life. (There are memorable scenes of him cleaning the house on speed.) But it sidesteps the trappings of addiction-adjacent memoirs, avoiding the easy stereotypes of suffering. Hello, Molly! is about one of the great comic actors of our era finding her footing, but it is also a loving portrait of a deeply unconventional parent, who launched his daughter (literally: when she still was just a child, he dared her to sneak onto a plane, and she succeeded) into the world. —C.S.

Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life by Delia Ephron (April 12)

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Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life

After the long illness and death of her older sister, Nora, and the long illness and death of her first husband, Jerry, Delia Ephron was stunned—if not entirely surprised—to learn in 2017 that she’d been diagnosed with leukemia. Her engaging, wise, and funny new memoir, Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life , chronicles her fierce reckoning with cancer, with grief (“I took the sun setting personally,” she writes of the loneliness of early widowhood), with the life-affirming power of friendship, and, at age 72, with a new love—Peter, a Jungian psychiatrist who wrote Ephron a friendly email after she published an op-ed in the Times about trying to disconnect Jerry’s landline. (Her record of their courtship, conducted initially over email, is as breathlessly romantic as anything she’s put into a screenplay—and this is a woman who co-wrote You’ve Got Mail .) —M.M.

The Trouble With Happiness by Tove Ditlevsen (April 19)

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The Trouble with Happiness: And Other Stories

One of the most (posthumously) lauded novelists of recent years, Tove Ditlevsen is known to most as the author of  The Copenhagen Trilogy,  a sprawling three-part memoir that chronicles both her interior life and major events of the 20th century. In this collection, the landscape is more compact, but the insight into human nature is no less poignant: A young girl watches her mother put on a costume, a temporary and tenuous escape threatened by the whims of the father; with calm remove, a woman imagines her married lover’s domestic life, a simmering, suppressed anger providing a more forceful undercurrent; a young pregnant couple looking to buy a house confronts the contraction of another family’s life at the moment they’re expanding theirs. These spare and sparkling stories summon deep wells of emotion without the slightest trace of sentimentality. —C.S.

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown (April 26)

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The Palace Papers

Whether or not you will tune in for the much-discussed Season 5 of The Crown , The Palace Papers deserves a read. Tina Brown does not seem to have researched her subjects so much as lived with them: Indeed, her own career as a young journalist, and then an editor (of many magazines, including several owned by Condé Nast) circled the royal family, and so she writes with the kind of familiarity earned through years of fine-tuned observation. There is definite bias here, but it is the kind that only sharpens her depictions; she’s not afraid to let you know which occupants of the royal palaces she thinks are up to snuff and which she thinks should fade into oblivion. In this year of royal transition (as well as entertainment), The Palace Papers is a supremely satisfying read. —C.S.

When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley (April 26)

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When We Fell Apart

A young Korean American man reeling from the recent suicide of his girlfriend sets out to learn more about the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death in this powerful novel that delves unflinchingly into the deeply timely question of what it means to belong to more than one culture. Wiley’s protagonist’s experience of trying to find links between his California upbringing and his adult life in Seoul will resonate with anyone who has ever been asked, “Where are you  really  from?” —E.S.

The Last Days of Roger Federer, and Other Endings by Geoff Dyer (May 3)

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The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings

If you’re coming to this book expecting an extended meditation on the late career of the titular tennis legend, you might be—well,  disappointed  isn’t the word, really: The book is dotted with such thoughts throughout. It’s true joy, though, is its buck-wild discursiveness. The entire book is a brooding, a searching, and an investigation—in three parts, each composed of exactly 60 more-or-less brief thoughts, about Dylan, Camus, John Berger, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Redford, Gerard Manley Hopkins, D.H. Lawrence, Chuck Yeager, T.C. Boyle, Scorsese, J.M.W. Turner, Michelangelo, Boris Becker, Browning, Ruskin, the Battle of Britain, and yes, Roger Federer (that’s a wildly incomplete list from just the first 40 pages)—of what it means to come to the end of something: painting, writing, striving, playing, living. If you’ve read Dyer before, you know what you’re in for, and it’s in glorious abundance here: humor, memoir, wit, verve, pathos, and an arsenal of erudition. If this is your first immersion, simply be prepared to chase the wind. —Corey Seymour

Trust by Hernan Diaz (May 3)

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What begins as a Henry James–esque chronicle of a Wall Street tycoon’s breathtaking ascent to power at the beginning of the 20th century reveals itself to be so much more in Hernan Diaz’s second novel, Trust: a rip-roaring, razor-sharp dissection of capitalism, class, greed, and the meaning of money itself that also manages to be a dazzling feat of storytelling on its own terms. Trust is a matryoshka doll of a novel, in which the layers peel back to reveal four alternative takes on the same narrative of the financial titan Andrew Bevel and, just as importantly, his wife, Mildred, each as riveting and full of surprises as the next. Its central theme of wealth—what it actually means, who it should belong to, how its relationship with some of the central mythologies of American life developed, and its inextricable linkage with the patriarchy—may feel both important and timely. But the uniquely brilliant way in which Diaz tells that story, as meticulously researched as it is narratively exhilarating, makes it a novel not just for the present age but for the ages. —L.H.

Linea Nigra by Jazmina Barrera (May 3)

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Linea Nigra

For those unacquainted with the vocabulary that accompanies the childbearing process, the linea nigra refers to a dark vertical line that can appear to bisect a pregnant person’s abdomen. Essayist Jazmina Barrera takes that physical line and writes about and (metaphorically) beyond it, packing her narrative memoir full of carefully considered and exquisitely worded musings on motherhood. Barrera wrote throughout her first pregnancy and into the beginning of her journey as a mother, and the multilayered, deeply felt work that her life experience and obvious talent have combined to produce is eminently worthy of acclaim. —E.S.

A Hard Place to Leave: Stories From a Restless Life by Marcia DeSanctis (May 3)

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A Hard Place to Leave

Longtime  Vogue  contributor Marcia DeSanctis recounts a peripatetic life—and the episodes that were less so. DeSanctis had a career as a tour guide, a TV producer (who worked, among other things, on Eastern European stories after the fall of the Berlin Wall), a cosmopolitan writer who marched to “the city’s incessant, invigorating drumbeat.” And then she moved to the quiet countryside, where she had to come to terms with a sense of herself that wasn’t based on constant movement and the frictions of foreign encounters. The essays in this collection (which include a tale of marital infidelity that made a marriage stronger  originally published in  Vogue ) might be framed as travel writing, but they are just as much stories of self-definition that take place here, there, and everywhere. —C.S. 

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub (May 17)

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This Time Tomorrow

Known for her plucky voice and sweetly amusing ensemble comedies, Emma Straub returns with her most emotionally resonant work yet,  This Time Tomorrow.  On the night of her 40th birthday, a newly single and slightly intoxicated Alice drops by her father’s home, located on an Upper West Side alley that time and foot traffic forgot. She passes out and wakes up in 1996, transported back to a moment when her father was still her energetic 40-something roommate, not an ailing 73-year-old whom she faithfully visits at the hospital. Shuttling between her teenage and middle-aged lives, Alice attempts to engineer a new destiny for her father and experiments with a panoply of what-ifs, one of which lands her the guy that got away. All the while, she grapples with the headstrong and heartbreaking nature of time. Beneath the layers of ’90s nostalgia and sci-fi portals to the past lies something even more satisfying: a complicated tale that doesn’t feel the slightest bit complicated. —L.M.

The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker (May 17)

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The Cherry Robbers

From the author of 2015 cult hit  Dietland  comes a more-than-worthy sophomore effort that follows Sylvia Wren—formerly known as Iris Chapel—the second youngest in a family of six heiress sisters, all seemingly cursed to live (and die) tragically. When Iris becomes Sylvia, she thinks she’s escaped her ominous familial fate, but has she? When we meet her in New Mexico in 2017, she’s an internationally famous yet reclusive artist ducking the attention of an overzealous journalist determined to track down the story of how Iris became Sylvia. Compelling, no? (Trust us, it is.) —E.S.

The Red Arrow by William Brewer (May 17)

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The Red Arrow

Something old is new again in William Brewer’s The Red Arrow , a rollicking bildungsroman meets wellness-through-hallucinogenics debut. Our hero has risen from the sticks of West Virginia to become a penniless painter and writer in New York who lucks into a gorgeous tech-employed fiancée and a hefty book contract. Trouble ensues. The advance is spent, the novel is not written (even as we’re given vivid glimpses of what it could be), and a suicidal depression descends. But our protagonist lucks out again—a ghostwriting gig for a star physicist seems to pull him out of his hole—until more trouble strikes. The Red Arrow is about how to survive a creative life in 21st-century America, and its answer will surprise you. Brewer’s earnest description of psilocybin therapy turns a bravura comic novel into something deeper and stranger: an account of unexpected, hard-won joy. —T.A.

Either/Or by Elif Batuman (May 24)

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Elif Batuman’s stupendous  Either/Or  is the hilarious follow-up to the author’s Pulitzer Prize–nominated  The Idiot , which introduced wannabe writer Selin during her first year at Harvard. Now a sophomore, Selin joins the literary magazine, attends campus costume parties, and visits a psychiatrist and Pilates classes, set pieces that dazzle with the author’s deadpan prose and superpowers of observation. “I thought humorlessness was the essence of stupidity,” Selin narrates, and by that metric Batuman is a genius, rendering human folly at its most colorful and borderline surreal. Readers of her essay collection,  The Possessed,  might notice stories that overlap with the author’s own life—and underscore that for lovers of literature, the line between life on and off the page is barely legible. –L.M.

Nevada by Imogen Binnie (June 7)

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Originally published by Topside Press in 2013, Binnie’s debut novel—which follows a young, punk-aspiring trans woman who heads west from New York City in her ex-girlfriend’s stolen car, attempting to play the fraught role of role model to a younger, not-yet-out acolyte she meets in Nevada—is a beautiful and occasionally disturbing complication of the oh-so-American trope of the cross-country road trip.  Detransition, Baby  author Torrey Peters is just one of a long list of trans women writers who name Binnie as an influence, and it’s long past time for the cis reader to form a bond with the brilliance of her work. —E.S.

The Lovers by Paolo Cognetti (June 7)

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In The Lovers , the celebrated Italian novelist Paolo Cognetti (author of 2018’s prize-winning debut The Eight Mountains ) has crafted a short novel of affecting elegance, set in and around the Italian Alpine town of Fontana Fredda. Our protagonist, Fausto, is a stalled writer who abandons his petit bourgeois life in Milan (and his former fiancée) for a rather more elemental existence in the mountains, where he finds work as a cook and begins an affair with Silvia, an alluring young waitress. There’s also Babette, the restaurant’s owner who “had also come from the city… though who knows when and how she got there,” and a flinty snow-cat driver called Santorso, a man forged—and eventually destroyed—by the wild surrounding landscape. Cognetti’s prose, translated into English by the poet Stash Luczkiw, knowingly calls Hemingway to mind (in one chapter, Fausto remembers teaching “In Another Country”), but the more important influence is Kent Haruf’s Plainsong . Here as there, a small community of simple people seems uncommonly beautiful. —M.M.

Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me by Ada Calhoun (June 14)

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Also a Poet: Frank O'Hara, My Father, and Me

It’s a complicated thing, the father-daughter relationship, particularly when the two share a profession. So it’s fitting that Ada Calhoun’s  Also a Poet  is a complicated, difficult-to-encapsulate book: Labeled a memoir, it’s also Calhoun’s attempt to finish a biography of the New York School poet Frank O’Hara abandoned by her father, the longtime  New Yorker  art critic Peter Schjeldahl. The book is composed of unpublished interview transcripts, domestic scenes from her childhood on the Lower East Side (see Calhoun’s masterly  St. Mark’s Is Dead  for an expanded disquisition on the site of her youth), and a sweetly personal reckoning with the anxiety of influence. All this sounds like a pretty heady brew, but Calhoun’s voice is clear and cogent, a winning and personable guide. —C.S.

The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid (August 2)

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The Last White Man

An unlikely love story is the warming center of Mohsin Hamid’s The Last White Man (Riverhead)—unlikely because the novel presents as the kind of cool, elegant fable Hamid has become known for. (His most recent, 2017’s masterful Exit West , used a magical realist trick to lay bare the exigencies of the refugee crisis.) Here, the characters find themselves subjected to a mysterious force that shifts their skin from white to a deep, undeniable brown. At first the change seems to affect only a few, but as it spreads, so do the attendant disruptions and paranoias. The book is obviously about race—Hamid has said that he has been mulling this work for 20 years, ever since the events of September 11 made him acutely aware of his own skin color—but it is also about the burgeoning love and chemistry between its two unabashedly physical main characters, Anders, a trainer at a gym, and Oona, a yoga instructor. Even when corporeal form seems a mysterious and mutable thing, the bond between the two acts as a bulwark against the unpredictability of the world. —C.S.

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews (August 2)

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All This Could Be Different

Sarah Thankam Mathews wrote All This Could Be Different (Viking) in the first year of the pandemic, when COVID produced a drastic loss of her income. As founder of the mutual-aid organization Bed-Stuy Strong, she was galvanized by witnessing not only the catastrophes and flaws of ordinary humans but also their glorious capacity. Equal parts incandescent love story and frank explorations of everything from sexuality to work to racism, this debut novel—focused on the struggles of a queer young Indian woman in Milwaukee—evokes the precariousness of life for so many in 21st-century America and the necessity of showing up and breaking free if we truly want all this to be different. —L.W.M.

Amy & Lan by Sadie Jones (August 16)

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Amy & Lan

Set deep in the bucolic fields of rural England, Sadie Jones’s new novel, Amy and Lan , charts five years in the lives of the two young children (and best friends) after whom the book is titled. Living in a commune of sorts, the duo are left largely to roam free, aside from the odd bit of fulfilling their duties on the farm, written with a particularly evocative eye for blood and muck. Things go south when entanglements between the adults start to draw their attention, and as Amy and Lan reach their early teenage years, these glimpses of grown-up life become an inescapable reality with devastating consequences. What at first reads as a deeply atmospheric bildungsroman (dung being the operative word here), Amy and Lan quietly builds to a cautionary tale of the good life turned sour. —L.H.

Touch by Olaf Olafsson (August 16)

books ranking 2022

In the Icelandic author (and erstwhile media executive) Olaf Olafsson’s delicate, absorbing new novel Touch , COVID lockdowns serve as a backdrop to the gentle unfolding of reawakened desire in its lead character, a 75-year-old Icelandic man who sets off on a journey to track down the Japanese woman who was his first great love back in 1960s London. His story begins with an out-of-the-blue Facebook message on the same evening he shutters his restaurant of 20 years, and continues to weave through past and present in an addictive structure of short, unnumbered chapters that also reflect his fraying recollections due to dementia. Really, to call Touch a pandemic novel would be doing it a disservice. With Olafsson’s gorgeous, lyrical writing, it feels weighted with deeper questions about memory, intergenerational trauma, and the enduring forces of love that can bridge decades and cultures—all reaching a denouement as satisfying as it is profoundly moving. —L.H.

The Hundred Waters by Lauren Acampora (August 23)

books ranking 2022

The Hundred Waters

In The Hundred Waters (Grove), Lauren Acampora’s quietly thrilling latest, a strange drama plays out between one Connecticut family and the 18-year-old son of their new neighbors. While Gabriel Steiger’s righteous anger about the climate crisis rivets 12-year-old Sylvie Rader, who lost a friend to cancer after toxic construction debris were buried in a nearby town, his dark features and compulsive creativity remind Sylvie’s mother, Louisa, of the man she loved before her husband, when she was a young photographer living in New York. The triangle that forms between mother, daughter, and the shifty boy next door is disquieting from the start, but as both relationships tip into disquieting new territory, the Raders’ lush, monied suburb stops feeling quite so staid. —M.M.

A Visible Man: A Memoir by Edward Enninful (September 6)

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A Visible Man: A Memoir

Charting Enninful’s earliest days in Ghana to his family’s emigration to London (where they settled under the “soggy skies” and repressive policies of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain), to his rise to the EIC seat and his wedding—punctuated by an 11th-hour arrival by Rihanna— A Visible Man (Penguin Press) is both a chronicle of a singular life and a universally inspiring portrait of ambition. As Enninful writes in his introduction of his dubious stance toward memoir: “Why look back when you can look forward?” It’s our good fortune that he does both. —Chloe Schama

Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories that Make Us by Rachel Aviv (September 13)

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Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us

Combining the cool poise of Janet Malcolm and the confessional bravery of Joan Didion, journalist and New Yorker staff writer Rachel Aviv challenges the way we think about mental illness in her absorbing debut, Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories that Make Us (FSG). Through half a dozen vivid case studies–one being the story of her own hospitalization at age six—she unravels medical diagnoses and demonstrates how societal narratives around illness take hold. The result is a fascinating and empathetic look at the mysterious ways our minds can fail us. —Taylor Antrim 

Lessons by Ian McEwan (September 13)

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Ian McEwan’s new novel Lessons (Knopf) is rangingly ambitious, teasingly autobiographical, and unsettling in the manner of his best work, a story of monstrous behavior set against major tides of the last 70 years. Roland Baines, a kind of spectator to history, is our hero—the product of a quintessentially English boarding school, a frustrated poet, occasional tennis instructor, and better-than-average piano player. The episode that shapes his life occurs in the opening pages, during a piano lesson with Miriam Cornell, a young instructor at Roland’s school. While teaching him Bach, she pinches his bare leg, an act of sexual sadism that leads, eventually, to the real thing in her bed. Roland never quite recovers from this wildly predatory affair (he 14, she 25). And in adulthood, another villain awaits: his first wife, Alissa Baines, who leaves him and their newborn son so that she can pursue a soaring literary career unencumbered. How can a novel populated by such (notably female) cruelty feel so expansively humanist? Roland is both haunted by trauma and able to push away from it, toward love (a second marriage), parenthood, forgiveness, grace. Lessons is a luminous, beautifully written, and oddly gripping book about lives imperfectly lived. —T.A.

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma (September 13)

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Bliss Montage

We’re in the thick of a dystopian golden age, but the indisputable leader of the pandemic lit pack came out in 2018. Ling Ma’s Severance was half tongue-in-cheek critique of capitalism, half science fiction about a group of New Yorkers fleeing a fatal airborne epidemic believed to have originated in Shenzhen, China. In Bliss Montage (FSG), her panic-slicked and wildly inventive new short story collection, the author continues to mine anxieties particular to our time. The narrator of “Los Angeles” lives with her uncommunicative husband and her 100 ex-boyfriends. “G,” named after the recreational drug that two young women take together in order to become invisible, gives a new spin to the notion of “ghosting.” The awful term “geriatric pregnancy” becomes a literal horror story in “Tomorrow,” whose protagonist must conceal the arm that is developing on the outside of her body—a common aspect of high-risk pregnancies, her doctor crisply informs her. These eight tales don’t build up to traditional climaxes, but the tension between the familiar and the unfathomable pulses on every page. —Lauren Mechling

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (September 20)

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Lucy by the Sea

Elizabeth Strout has kept her readers well acquainted with the doings of Lucy Barton, a bestselling writer (like Strout herself) from a devastatingly poor background, twice married and now a widow with two adult daughters, who in last year’s diverting novel Oh, William forged a kind of chummy detente with her first husband, William, as he discovered a hidden past. In Strout’s poised and moving Lucy by the Sea (Random House), Lucy and William are fleeing Manhattan in the face of COVID and setting up a lockdown life in Maine. It is only in the steady hands of Strout, whose prose has an uncanny, plainspoken elegance, that you will want to relive those early months of wiping down groceries and social isolation. Here, the Maine landscape is gorgeously rendered in its COVID hush, and Strout balances the tension of viral spread with the complex minuet of Lucy and William coming to terms with their resentments and enduring love. This is a slim, beautifully controlled book that bursts with emotion. —T.A.

Stay True by Hua Hsu (September 27)  

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Hua Hsu’s steady, searching memoir, Stay True (Doubleday), brings a certain 1990s collegiate persona into clarion focus: the undergraduate who is highly cultivated in his interests (Pavement yes, Pearl Jam no; cigarettes yes, alcohol no; indie films yes, fraternity parties no), a young Gen Xer studiedly indifferent to mainstream culture, and rigorously obsessed with what’s cool. As an undergrad at Berkeley, Hsu was this person to a T and his memoir digs, in a lovely, low-key way beneath the surface of the pose. Hsu’s Taiwanese parents immigrated to the U.S. and harbored a kind of poignant enthusiasm for their new lives–especially his father who was interested in his son’s thoughts about everything and anything. Hsu is an intellectual slacker who studies rhetoric and political science, but is outwardly bored by most everything, a creator of Zines and a cultivator of misfit friends. One friend, named Ken, bucks the trend. Ken is handsome, into Dave Matthews, and likes (the horror!) swing dancing. Hua has a curious bond with him in spite of all that and then when Ken is killed in horrific circumstances, Hsu is unmoored. A moving portrait of a persona undone by tragedy. –T. A.

Foster by Claire Keegan (November 1)

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In Claire Keegan’s Foster (Grove) , first published by The New Yorker as a short story in 2010 and now expanded to a novella, the Irish writer traces the journey of a nameless girl who is palmed off to distant relatives in a bucolic corner of rural County Wexford for a summer while her poverty-stricken, neglectful parents prepare for the birth of their next child. What unspools from there is a deceptively complex coming-of-age tale, both intimate and richly expansive, as the girl’s foster family provides her with the room and space to blossom, before a heartbreaking secret threatens to shatter her newfound idyll. Balancing Keegan’s delicate, sparing prose and masterful ear for dialogue with a tale that is almost overwhelming in its tenderness, Foster is a heart-wrenching treasure of a book that only serves to confirm Keegan’s place as one of contemporary Irish literature’s leading lights. —Liam Hess

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono (November 1)

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Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story

Bono’s deeply personal memoir chronicles his earliest memories, the formation of his band, the meeting of his wife when he was still a teen (he joined the band the same week that he first asked her to go out with him). The book is also about his father, a figure that loomed over him, especially after the early death of his mother, with almost comic nonchalance regarding his son’s epically blossoming career. (It took a meeting with Princess Di, arranged by his son, to truly ruffle him.) It is about Ireland, the legacy of the violence that raged through much of the 20th century, and Africa, and also the promise of America. It is not a short or compact book. But do you want that from the man behind some of the most stirring and soaring ballads of all time? Sink into your plush chair of choice with this one in your lap and the stereo blasting. —C.S.

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