As 2022 comes to a close, we are reflecting on some of the greatest books that came out this year. MJ Franklin, editor at The New York Times Book Review, joins Greta to discuss some of their favorite reads of the year.
Here are their top picks, in no particular order:
Everything I Need I Get From You, Kaitlin TiffanyThis nonfiction book takes us back to 2014 at the height of One Direction’s fame. The Atlantic’s Kaitlin Tiffany explores how teengirl fandom shaped the internet as we know it today. MJ says it’s smart and funny, and is the book he recommended the most this year.
Checkout 19, Claire-Louise BennettCheckout 19 is a novel from the point of view of a young Londoner and her relationship with literature. MJ says the reader gets to “see how her own life shapes how she reads these books, and how reading these books shapes how she perceives certain episodes in her life.”
The Honeys, Ryan La SalaMJ describes this young adult horror novel as “The Heathers meets queer theory.” Mars, the novel’s gender-queer protagonist, sets out to find out what happened to their sister at a sinister summer camp. While it is written for a younger audience, MJ believes that adult readers will love it too.
Witches, Brenda Lozano and translated by Heather ClearySet in Mexico, Witches is about two women whose paths cross after one of their mentors is murdered. They soon come to find out how much they share in common. It’s a story about women’s power and agency. “This book is so smart, so beautiful and I want to make sure it gets its flowers,” MJ says.
The Furrows, Namwali Serpell
This novel opens with the line, “I don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.” MJ says it examines grief, family, and race. “It is a technical marvel in addition to being a thoughtful, human, empathic look at grief.”
Either/Or, Elif BatumanIn this sequel to Elif Batuman’s first novel The Idiot, Either/Or follows the protagonist Selin as she returns for her second year at Harvard University. MJ says the second book is just as smart and observant as the first. “It’s just fun being back in Selin’s head with Elif Batuman’s writing.”
Stay True, Hua HsuFrom The New Yorker’s Hua Hsu, Stay True is a memoir about friendship, grief and belonging. It explores Hsu’s relationship with his friend Ken when they were teens before his tragic death. “In addition to being a portrait of a psyche, it’s a portrait of a time and it is incredible,” MJ says.
Greta’s listTrust, Hernan Diaz
Not only is Trust a favorite of both Greta’s and MJ’s, this puzzle of a novel is also the December pick for Nerdette Book Club! “What a stylistically ambitious book!” MJ says. Click here to listen to our recent spoiler-free interview with author Hernan Diaz.
Diary of a Void, Emi YagiThis short novel follows a young Japanese woman who fakes a pregnancy in order to escape constant harassment at work. “I’m still not totally sure what happened in it, but it’s a very fun, weird read, especially for so many of us who are just completely disillusioned by capitalism,” Greta says.
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, Akwaeke EmeziThis romance novel made it into Greta’s top picks of the year because it’s an absolute page-turner! “It’s so plotty,” Greta says. “It took so many turns that I wasn’t expecting.”
You can check out Greta’s full list of her top book picks this year here!
We also got the chance to hear what our listeners are reading. Here is a list of their favorite book recommendations:
This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch by Tabitha Carvan
The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
Golden Axe by Rio Cortez
Babel by R.F. Kuang
More than Organs by Kay Ulanday Barrett
Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin