Somehow, we’re halfway through 2022, which has resulted in a series of lists of the best books of 2022 so far, including from Barnes & Noble and Esquire.
Far be it from me to let anyone else have a head start on what books we should be talking about at the end of the year, so here is my “Best Books of the Year from Biblioracle (up to now) which is a better list than anyone Else’s Best Books of the Year list (so far).
“Ancestor Problem” by Maud Newton: I think we will consider this book a classic in the way it combines historical research, science, personal memory and philosophy. A fascinating and in-depth exploration of Newton’s family tree in the context of who we are and where we come from, unraveling some mysteries while introducing others. A book that keeps on giving even after reading the last page.
“The Race to the Top: Asian Americans and Whites Chasing the American Dream in Suburban Schools” by Natasha Warikoo: There has been a lot of heat without much light around affirmative action issues in elite college admissions. Here is an absorbing ethnographic work by Professor Warikoo of Tufts University that examines the complex power and social dynamics at work in a system where success seems both rare and an absolute imperative. Strikes a good balance between academic and popular audiences, so either group will be satisfied.
“Foreverland: On the Divine Boredom of Marriage” by Heather Havrilesky: The humorless growlers of the world have tried to convince themselves that an honest exploration of the ways in which those we are closest to can also be our greatest sources of frustration is somehow a problem, but they are wrong. . This book is a delight. Funny, honest and deeply romantic, Havrilesky does the world a favor by letting us experience his spirit and his marriage.
“Rethinking Fandom: How to beat the sports-industrial complex at its own game” by Craig Calcaterra: If you’re like me and love sports, but are increasingly dismayed by the “sports-industrial complex,” Calcaterra’s book will be a balm to keep that fandom going without shutting down eyes on the myriad problems and sources of exploitation on the ground.
“Look for” by Michelle Huneven: One of my ultimate comfort reads, Huneven manages to cast a spell that has you deeply invested in a committee’s ultimate decision to search for a new minister for a Unitarian Universalist congregation. These people dig into you as if they were your neighbors.
“Joan is fine” by Weike Wang: Wang’s dry wit in this story of an intensive care doctor dealing with (sort of) the death of his father is irresistible.
“Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel: That this novel appears on the B&N and Esquire lists as well as mine speaks to a few things. First, St. John Mandel writes books that many readers look forward to. Second, Mandel responds to this anticipation, in a big way. Not quite a sequel so much as a companion to “The Glass Hotel”, “Sea of Tranquility” is somehow both an enjoyable and invigorating read.
“Mouth to mouth” by Antoine Wilson: Just a delightful little work of psychological intrigue and suspense that delivers one of the most satisfying plot kicks I’ve experienced in years.
“House of the Devil” by John Darnielle: Framed as the story of a journalist researching and writing a true crime book about an alleged satanic murder, Darnielle turns the book into an exploration of memory, narrative and how the stories we tell depends a lot on who can do the telling.
John Warner is the author of “Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities”.
Biblioracle book recommendations
John Warner tells you what to read based on the last five books you read
1. “The Woodland Boy” by Harlan Coben
2. “City on Fire” by Don Winslow
3. “Two nights in Lisbon” by Chris Pavone
4. “The Chain” by Adrian McKinty
5. “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead
—Bill T., Chicago
I think Bill will be in Olen Steinhauer’s Milo Weaver series, in which a spy tries to get out of the game, but keeps getting sucked in. The first volume is “The Tourist”.
1. “60 stories” by Donald Barthelme
2. “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders
3. “Misplaced” by Dana Spiotta
4. “Away” by Hernan Diaz
5. “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel
—Mary P., Sacramento
Mary sounds like someone with an interest in fiction that tackles big existential questions obliquely, and Benjamin Labatut’s “When We Stop Understanding the World” seems to fit that mindset well.
1. “The Book of Form and Void” Ruth Ozeki
2. “A Separation” by Katie Kitamura
3. “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell
4. “No country for old people” by Cormac McCarthy
5. “The Cold Millions” by Jess Walter
— Bea P., Tallahassee, Florida
Bea is drawn to a good story with lots of intrigue, but she should also be attached to the character and even a unique author’s voice. For me, this is in addition to “The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt.
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Send a list of the last five books you read and your hometown to [email protected].