Let’s be honest, every year is a good one for books. Join us in honoring these.
100 Notable Books of 2022
Best Barbarian: Poems
Reeves’s terrific second poetry collection eruditely sets out to unite the Western literary canon with its omissions and oppressions, resurrecting an eclectic cast of characters, from Sappho to James Baldwin, to ask the vital yet unanswerable question: “What disaster will I deliver to my daughter?”
The Hurting Kind: Poems
Again and again in this poetry collection, her sixth, Limón confronts nature’s unwillingness to yield its secrets — it’s one of her primary subjects. The seemingly abundant wisdom of the natural world is really a vision of her own searching reflection. “Limón looks out her window, walks around her yard, and, like Emily Dickinson, trips over infinities,” our reviewer wrote.
Now Do You Know Where You Are: Poems
Levin’s poetry collection is about many things — Donald Trump, climate grief, the Covid pandemic — but it’s also the diary of the poet’s painful passage from not writing to writing again: an unguarded literary experiment that freely shares her self-doubts, false starts and dead ends.
The Nobel laureate’s latest novel to be published in the United States follows three primary characters in an unnamed coastal town in German East Africa in the early 1900s, one of whom decides to fight for the Germans in World War I; it is equally a love story and an exploration of war and imperialism.
In Zink’s sixth novel, a girl named Bran harbors writerly aspirations while working for her stepfamily at a nursery specializing in exotic imports. “Avalon” is “the effulgent and clever sort of novel that replicates the experience of learning a new game,” our critic Molly Young wrote.
The Bangalore Detectives Club
This first book in an effervescent new mystery series turns the clock back a century, to 1920s India, where a solitary, bookish, Sherlock Holmes-loving young wife uses her penchant for logic games to solve a garden-party murder.
Bliss Montage: Stories
These eight wily tales feature women (mostly Chinese American) moving languorously through the world, operating with cool detachment, their questionable choices fueling the narratives and heightening the stakes.
The Books of Jacob
At 1,000 pages, chronicling the life of the 18th-century messianic cult leader Jacob Frank, this novel by the Nobel laureate Tokarczuk (newly translated from the original Polish by Jennifer Croft) is epic by any standard: a sort of fictional gospel charged with Jewish folk magic and a sense that God is lurking nearby.
The Candy House
Egan’s sequel to “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, tells more than a dozen interrelated stories and defies neat summarizing. It’s about music, New York’s East Village, magazine journalism, San Francisco in the 1970s, Gen-X nostalgia, the digitalization of everything and the search, in the face of that digitalization, for forms of authenticity.
Did an unorthodox therapist drive a woman to suicide? This novel of purportedly found documents, including journals and biographical interludes, takes on this psychological mystery while exploring through its nested narratives the possibilities of fiction.
A Catalog of Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On
In each of the 99 short sketches in this collection, which was translated by Bonnie S. McDougall and Anders Hansson, the revered Hong Kong author crafts a miniature fictional world around a particular item from 1990s consumer culture: the “Tomb Raider III” video game, “South Park,” the Hello Kitty franchise.
Bennett’s enthralling second novel opens in a library and offers a paean to the written word; its narrator is a writer whose life has been blown imaginatively open by the transformative and transportive nature of reading.
An artist grappling with her father’s illness and the despair of lockdown receives a call from an acquaintance, who presents her with a strange conundrum plucked from a dream. From there, the novel opens into an epoch-spanning story about freedom and restriction, with a 16th-century lock as a unifying motif.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
This mesmerizing horror novel reimagines H.G. Wells’s “The Island of Doctor Moreau” in the Yucatán Peninsula. Moreno-Garcia immerses readers in the rich world of 19th-century Mexico, exploring colonialism and resistance in a compulsively readable story of a woman’s coming-of-age.
Dead-End Memories: Stories
First published in Japan in 2003, the author’s 11th book to be translated into English (in this case by Asa Yoneda) collects five strange, melancholy and beautiful stories of lonely women negotiating the quiet fallout of personal history.
The Dead Romantics
“Six Feet Under” meets “While You Were Sleeping” in this tale of an affair between a heartbroken writer and the ghost of her newly dead editor. It’s an antidote for despair, a romance novel that is frank about the fact that life ends and time marches on but that nevertheless insists: We aren’t a horror novel. We’re a love story. You’ll laugh during the funeral scene and cry when the dance party begins.
Kingsolver’s novel offers a close retelling of Charles Dickens’s “David Copperfield,” set in contemporary Appalachia and galloping through issues including poverty, addiction and rural dispossession even as its larger focus remains squarely on the question of how an artist’s consciousness is formed.
Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta
Hannaham’s captivating novel, following the fate of a trans woman who’s on parole after serving 20 years in a men’s prison, mixes humor and horror as its irrepressible heroine encounters the injustices of the justice system.
Everett is a formidably prolific author, whose books include parody and horror and magical realism and more, linked by an interest in academia, language games, Blackness and nonsense. Those themes recur here, in a novel that borrows its name from an early James Bond story and features a math professor recruited by a supervillain.
Batuman’s first novel, “The Idiot,” told the story of Selin, a freshman at Harvard. In this new novel, Selin is a sophomore, and we’re shown another year in the life of an ambitious, bookish student in the mid-1990s. We read what Selin reads — Pushkin, Babel, Freud, Chekhov — and watch her compare it with those she encounters in fiction.
Flung Out of Space: Inspired by the Indecent Adventures of Patricia Highsmith
This graphic novel — the funny and sad tale of a great lesbian writer’s struggle to find herself — is deftly told, and the spare illustrations are infused with idiosyncrasy and energy.
Four Treasures of the Sky
Set in China and the American West in the late 19th century, this engrossing, eventful first novel follows the coming-of-age of a Chinese teenager who is sold into prostitution in California, before posing as a man just to survive. Our reviewer noted that “Zhang has trained her gaze on an area of American history that has gone largely unnoticed in westerns, even revisionist ones.”
The Furrows: An Elegy
After losing her brother when she was 12, the narrator of Serpell’s second novel keeps seeing men who resemble him as she works through her trauma long into adulthood. She enters an intimate relationship with one of them, who’s also haunted by his past. This richly layered book explores the nature of grief, how it can stretch and compress time and reshape our memories.
Gods of Want: Stories
These stories by the Taiwanese American author of the gutsy 2020 debut novel “Bestiary” are obsessed with the vagaries of emigration and adolescence. Populated by ghosts and spirits, they dissolve the rigidities of American life into a slipstream of folkloric myth and transform the familiar world into something wilder.
In Hand’s brilliantly atmospheric novel, an out-of-work carpenter from Maine lands a job as a caretaker on a remote Hawaiian estate, where he learns that people have a tendency to vanish and where he soon finds a tank of poisonous sea urchins and an aviary full of extinct birds.
These eight stories, which are set in Ireland’s County Mayo and beyond, are shot through with dark humor as they tell of lives plagued by illness, alienation, substance abuse, suicide and bad luck.
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water
Set in New York City, this taut and poignant novel centers on a 56-year-old Dominican woman grappling with motherhood, acceptance and loss in the midst of the Great Recession, as she unburdens her life story to a career counselor.
If I Survive You
This debut story collection follows a Jamaican family in Miami, where the narrator struggles to forge an identity for himself and his parents run up against storms, financial trouble and racism. With charm and sympathy, Escoffery devises an intimate exploration of intergenerational conflict.
The Immortal King Rao
The future is grim in Vara’s first novel: Climate collapse is ruining life on earth and a mega-corporation has replaced national governments. The book is “a monumental achievement,” our reviewer wrote, “beautiful and brilliant, heartbreaking and wise, but also pitiless, which may be controversial to list among its virtues but is in fact essential to its success.”
Joan Is Okay
Joan, the hero of this novel, is a 36-year-old attending physician in an I.C.U. on the Upper West Side of New York. Pressures from her family, H.R. and her neighbor throw her in a rage that Wang leaves bubbling beneath the surface. “Wang has given us a character so unusual and unapologetically herself that you can’t help wanting to hang out with her, knowing full well that she wants nothing more than to be left alone,” our reviewer wrote.
Korelitz’s sparkling novel has all the hallmarks of a beach read: a dysfunctional family (featuring test-tube triplets), a major plot twist, a house on Martha’s Vineyard. But the ambitious scope — and the exploration of race, class, politics, real estate and the art world — make this 448-page blockbuster a story for all seasons.
Lessons in Chemistry
Set in the 1960s, Garmus’s irresistible debut novel introduces readers to Elizabeth Zott: scientist by training, cooking show host by default. One meal at a time, she galvanizes her audience to question the lives they’ve been served.
Liberation Day: Stories
The prevailing mood throughout the author’s first collection since 2013's “Tenth of December” is more muted and uncertain, featuring characters who have either given up or been given up on, and are merely waiting for the End — the final crashing down of the system.
Lucy by the Sea
A successful writer and her ex-husband relocate to Maine from Manhattan at the peak of the Covid pandemic in this loosely connected, deeply moving and quietly funny follow-up to Strout’s earlier novels about Lucy Barton.
My Government Means to Kill Me
In this nostalgic picaresque novel, a Black gay teenager named Trey arrives in 1980s New York City. What follows is a story of sexual and political awakening and life lessons learned at the school of hard knocks.
In this gruesome, blackly funny, utterly original feminist horror story, a woman grappling with the suicide of her evil mother-in-law discovers the woman is more bothersome dead than alive. “My mother is back,” her husband tells her. “She’s in the basement.”
Night of the Living Rez: Stories
In this brash, irreverent story collection, Talty illuminates life and death on the Penobscot Indian Nation reservation by following David, a Penobscot boy, through adventures and troubles that evoke loss, intergenerational trauma and more.
Our Missing Hearts
In Ng’s potent novel, a 12-year-old boy called Bird searches for his mother, who is on the run from a government with antediluvian — but also depressingly timely — notions about free speech.
The Old Woman With the Knife
Following a 65-year-old woman in Seoul who is ready to retire from being a hired assassin, Gu’s first novel to be released into English, translated by Chi-Young Kim, addresses societal attitudes on aging in Korea and elsewhere. “An unfortunate series of mishaps draws her inexorably back into the action, yielding a brisk narrative,” our reviewer wrote.
Olga Dies Dreaming
Liberation is at the heart of this debut novel about a Brooklyn wedding planner who is the daughter of a Puerto Rican revolutionary. Gonzalez’s thoughtful story grapples with questions of how to break free from a mother’s manipulations, from shame, from pride indistinguishable from fear, from abandonment, from oppression and from greed.
In McCarthy’s new novel (a companion volume to the forthcoming “Stella Maris”), a salvage diver is unwittingly swept into a conspiracy after he investigates a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico and finds one of the bodies missing. He’s also grieving his dead sister, a mathematical genius whose hallucinations in her final year of life are interwoven throughout the story.
The Canadian writer’s 10th book is part bonkers cosmology and part contemporary parable. In a creation myth viewed through the keyhole of a single life, a young would-be critic grapples with the loss of her adoring father and her unrequited crush on a woman who lives above a bookstore.
The Rabbit Hutch
Gunty’s dense, prismatic and often mesmerizing debut novel weaves together the dramas of tenants in a shabby Midwestern apartment building with impressive scope and specificity, in a narrative that luxuriates in the rhythms and repetitions and seashell whorls of meaning to be extracted from everyday life. This received the National Book Award for Fiction.
Red Blossom in Snow: A Lotus Palace Mystery
In a genre that sometimes finds it hard to look away from the blinding sun of 19th-century England, Lin’s novel about Tang Dynasty warriors and courtesans, constables and scholars offers romance readers a transportive setting, complex personalities and sweeping, epic emotion.
The Return of Faraz Ali
In this quietly stunning debut novel, a midlevel police officer in Lahore, Pakistan, is sent to cover up a girl’s murder in the red-light district where he was born. The characters feel real, as does the violent collision of their scheming and resignation, the depths of their wanting.
The School for Good Mothers
An overwhelmed single mother leaves her toddler home alone — and lands in a state-run reform school for wayward parents. Welcome to a nightmarish surveillance state, courtesy of an assured and dynamic new voice in fiction. “Who decides who should become parents and how children should be raised?” our reviewer wrote. “If these questions aren’t already keeping you up at night, Chan’s cautionary tale will ensure that they do.”
Sea of Tranquility
In her luminous sixth novel, the author of “Station Eleven” takes up existential questions of time and being, via a handful of characters spread across centuries who have all, in some way, experienced a strange vision and interacted with a mysterious time traveler.
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
The winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, Karunatilaka’s novel examines the decades-long Sri Lankan civil war through the eyes of a murdered photojournalist, who has seven days to figure out who killed him and why. His quest shows us a diverse array of groups and competing interests.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
This delightful novel follows students at M.I.T. and Harvard who enter the arena of video game development, with hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking results. The book pays homage to the Literary Gamer — “someone for whom reading and playing are, and always have been, the same voyage,” our reviewer wrote.
Diaz uncovers the secrets of an American fortune in the early 20th century, detailing the unchecked rise of a financier and the enigmatic talents of his wife. This exhilarating novel subverts readers’ expectations with each of its four parts while paying tribute to literary titans from Henry James to Jorge Luis Borges.
The Whalebone Theatre
Centered on imperiled aristocracy during the well-trod period of 1919-45, and a big hit in England, this is a generous slab of historical fiction cut from the same crumbling stone as “Brideshead Revisited,” following a trio of children from their dramatic experiments on the beach of Dorset, to their adult roles in the theater of war.
This novel examines the lives of a group of enslaved people, called “the Stolen,” first as they struggle under the brutality of slavery and then as they try to escape with the help of mysterious, otherworldly interventions. “A central question of the novel is: What level of hope can one attain in Black skin, in a Black body, when Black people are deprived of the right to determine their own lives?” our reviewer wrote.
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty
The first romance of Emezi’s prolific and diverse career features a widowed 29-year-old artist who unexpectedly finds love with an older chef. “I love this book’s understanding of how tightly grief can tangle itself with elation, and how loss might elicit possession,” our reviewer wrote. “It is also riotously, delightfully queer.”
Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me
In her new memoir, Calhoun resurfaces material that her father, the art critic Peter Schjeldahl, gathered years ago for a possible biography of the poet Frank O’Hara, who died in 1966, at 40. “Also a Poet” began as Calhoun’s attempt to finish what her father couldn’t, but it turned into a story about both the impossibility of reconstructing another person’s life and the importance of trying — and an investigation of the strained, complicated relationship between a creative father and daughter.
American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis
Hochschild, a renowned journalist, delivers a harrowing portrait of America between the years 1917-21, rife with racist violence, xenophobia and political repression abetted by the federal government. The book serves as a cautionary tale and a provocative counterpoint to our own era.
The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People
For many decades, a supposed mystery has lurked at the heart of American foreign policy: Why has the United States supported Israel so staunchly and for so long? Mead’s nuanced history makes the case that U.S. support for the Jewish state has benefited America more than critics allow.
Black Folk Could Fly: Selected Writings
When Kenan died in 2020, he was best known for his novels and short stories, which filtered his North Carolina childhood through the lens of magical realism. But, as demonstrated here, Kenan brought the same wit, heart and eye to his nonfiction, which in aggregate functions as an informal, wide-ranging memoir.
Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus
In this book which traces the lead-up to the Covid pandemic, and the frantic attempts to stop it, Quammen marries an old-fashioned love of colorful language to his passion for detail — an odd coupling that results not just in a lucid book about an important topic, but also in one that’s a pleasure to read.
Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-Seventh Street, Manhattan
Pinckney’s elegant memoir of his decades-long friendship with the critic and novelist Elizabeth Hardwick doubles as a poignant elegy to a bygone world: that of New York intellectuals of the 1970s and ’80s, when to be a writer for, say, The New York Review of Books was to belong to a rarefied community for whom thinking, reading, talking and writing represented life of the highest order.
Constructing a Nervous System
The book’s title is a sly description of Jefferson’s project, with “nervous system” referring to the materials — “chosen, imposed, inherited, made up” — that jumble together into an identity. The book is part rumination on the nature of memoir, part traditional autobiography and — always — an engagement with art, including that of Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Democracy’s Data: The Hidden Stories in the U.S. Census and How to Read Them
Ruminative and rich, this book is a feast for the senses of the U.S. census. Bouk, a history professor specializing in bureaucracies and quantification, digs deeply into the paperwork and politics behind the numbers, with humor, gravitas and a poet’s flair for wordplay.
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
Shortly after college, saddled with student loan debt and desperate for a job, Beaton, a cartoonist known for her best-selling series, “Hark! A Vagrant,” signed up to work in the remote oil fields of rural Canada, where the men vastly outnumbered the women. The stories in this illustrated memoir are as gritty and harrowing as you might expect, but there’s humor here, too, as well as compassion and tenderness.
In her gorgeous, vivid first book, Jones writes about living with sacral agenesis, a physical condition that gives her “a body that could never be mistaken for symmetrical.” As she rejects the dismissive gaze of others, Jones shows how she stands in the light of her own extremely able self.
Everything I Need I Get From You: How Fangirls Created the Internet as We Know It
Following internecine fandom battles (“vicious and exhilarating, like college football except interesting”), Tiffany, a technology reporter, traces the shifting status of fangirls in the culture at large.
Fire Season: Selected Essays 1984-2021
Indiana was the art critic for The Village Voice in the 1980s and is a multigenre artist. “Fire Season” presents 35 years of his political and cultural criticism, much of it chilling to read in hindsight.
G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century
This revelatory new biography of J. Edgar Hoover suggests that the former director of the F.B.I., often remembered as a cartoon villain, was less an outsider to the postwar consensus than an integral part of it.
Comprising diary entries from 1988 through 1990, this book, translated by Alison L. Strayer, recounts an affair the celebrated French author and Nobel laureate had in Paris with a married Soviet diplomat who was nearly 15 years her junior. The sex is torrid, and described with a lemony eye for detail.
The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family
Combining narrative flair with a skillful deployment of archival sources, Greenidge’s penetrating study underscores the moral contradictions and racial trauma in a slaveholding family best known for two white female abolitionists.
Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad
This vivid book by a historian at Dartmouth shows how much of World War II looks different when viewed from the perspective of Black Americans — many of whom drew parallels between the fascist threat abroad and Jim Crow at home.
An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us
Yong’s book urges readers to break outside their “sensory bubble” to consider the unique ways that dogs, dolphins, mice and other animals experience their surroundings. The book is filled with enthralling facts, like the way that a dolphin echolocating a human in water can perceive not only the human’s outer shape but also what’s inside, including skeleton and lungs. The book is “funny and elegantly written,” our critic Jennifer Szalai says, and showcases Yong’s “exceptional gifts as a storyteller.”
Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong
A former journalist dismantles the received wisdom about Hong Kong’s history and replaces it with an engaging, exhaustively researched account of its long struggle for sovereignty from China and — at least as important — from Britain.
Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure From Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age
You know the index as a handy list of subjects and proper names, typically at the end of a nonfiction book, guiding you to find the information you seek. If this sounds obvious and unobjectionable, Duncan’s smart, playful book will encourage you to think again. Duncan tells the story in writing that is “imaginative but also disciplined, elucidating dense, scholarly concepts with a light touch,” our critic Jennifer Szalai wrote.
Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America
The author, an Oxford historian, recasts the history of North America from a Native American perspective, making clear that Native tribes controlled the continent for millenniums (“On an Indigenous time scale, the United States is a mere speck”). One of the best books ever written on Native American history.
In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss
This memoir by an acclaimed novelist is about her marriage with Brian Ameche, his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and the couple’s search for a painless and dignified way for him to end his life. “Bloom tells this story with grace and tact,” our critic Dwight Garner wrote. “She doesn’t go overboard in explaining her moral reasoning. She doesn’t have to. Her title is her explanation.”
Kiki Man Ray: Art, Love, and Rivalry in 1920s Paris
By putting Kiki de Montparnasse at its center, Braude’s exuberant biography sets out to rebalance the usual Left Bank Paris narrative, in which the 1920s chanteuse, artist’s model, memoirist and iconic Man Ray subject is customarily and reflexively cast as a muse to more famous figures.
Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern
Tsu, a professor of East Asian languages and literature at Yale, charts the struggle to adapt Chinese script to a new world. Her rigorous, engaging history suggests that the language’s evolution reveals the country’s past, present — and future.
Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire
Elkins, a Harvard professor who won a Pulitzer for her 2005 history of British atrocities in colonial Kenya, here expands her canvas to describe the enormous degree of violence required to maintain the British Empire during the 20th century and challenges the dubious claims put forth about Britain’s benevolent rule.
Life Between the Tides
A historian and nature writer explores tide pools — those shifting ecosystems that form where the ocean meets the land — and evokes their tiny inhabitants in luminous, lovely detail.
Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self
Wulf’s exuberant narrative spans a little more than a decade, when a group of poets and intellectuals clustered in the German university town of Jena in the last years of the 18th century and became known as the “Young Romantics.”
Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life
In the 1940s, a group of young women who went on to great success (including the novelist Iris Murdoch) challenged prevailing philosophical views at Oxford. As a group biography, this book is “evocative and sparkling,” our reviewer wrote, “sketching each woman’s character with a novelist’s mastery of detail.”
Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century
This sensitive and stately biography of the choreographer George Balanchine shows how he reinvented the language of ballet through much of the 20th century. Homans surveys his private life, including his marriages and affairs with his dancers, as well as the beauty and agony of his craft.
The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil
Brown, the English-born, Oxford-educated former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Talk and The Daily Beast, here dishes on the increasingly wobbly contours of the British royal family. “It’s frothy and forthright, a kind of ‘Keeping Up With the Windsors’ with sprinkles of Keats,” our critic Alexandra Jacobs wrote.
Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe
In this exhaustively researched biography of possibly the greatest athlete of all time, the author calmly lets witnesses express the eternal astonishment about how well his subject did seemingly everything, and how beautifully he did it.
Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to America
It took decades before the masters of modern painting were widely celebrated in the United States. In this fascinating, immensely readable narrative, Eakin documents how the “fanatical determination” of a small group of people helped Picasso, Matisse, et al. conquer America. He manages to braid aesthetics with history and personal details about the leading individuals’ love lives, adulteries and divorces.
The Quiet Before: On the Unexpected Origins of Radical Ideas
Beckerman, a former editor at the Book Review, turns his lens on the small moments — 17th-century correspondence, Chartist petitions, Futurist manifestoes — that led to larger revolutions. In a moment where all discourse seems conducted at top volume, Beckerman mounts an argument for “a realm of relative quiet,” as our reviewer said, “where millions of connections are daily wired together, and which offer to conversationalists thoughtful rather than thoughtless provocations, solid sources of knowledge rather than fathomless wells of ignorance, and even, every so often, shots of pleasurable illumination.”
The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams
This enthralling biography is a persuasive exercise in rehabilitation. Making her case through stylish prose and a close reading of Adams’s career as a canny propagandist and syndicated news service provider, Schiff suggests that he may have done more than any other of America’s founding fathers to prime colonists for armed rebellion and is undeserving of the neglect in which his post-Revolution reputation has often foundered.
Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington
“Even at the height of the Cold War, it was safer to be a Communist than a homosexual,” Kirchick writes in this sprawling and engrossing history. Kirchick reveals copious blood on the hands of the powerful, who for decades regarded alternative desires or any association with them as a “contagious sexual aberrancy,” and cause for immediate banishment from mainstream society.
Seek and Hide: The Tangled History of the Right to Privacy
In this wry and fascinating book, Gajda traces the history of the right to privacy and its (understandably fraught) relationship in the United States with the First Amendment. She examines the tension that has persisted over the years in the tug of war between “the right to know” on one side and “the right to be let alone” on the other.
Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers
This jaw-droppingly candid memoir is by the daughter of Richard Rodgers (she was also the confidante of Stephen Sondheim and the composer of “Once Upon a Mattress”). A posthumous treasure, written with The Times’s chief theater critic.
In this memoir, Zamora details migrating to the United States from El Salvador by himself when he was just 9 years old, to reunite with his parents. It’s a journey that spans thousands of miles, throughout which Zamora faces uniformed men with machine guns, smugglers, Border Patrol and more.
Son of Elsewhere: A Memoir in Pieces
Abdelmahmoud spent the first 12 years of his life in Sudan identifying as Arab — when he thought about his identity at all. When he emigrated to Kingston, one of the whitest cities in Canada, he quickly learned he was Black. Life in a new country brought with it discomfort but also possibility.
The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human
After excellent books on the history of cancer and the gene, Mukherjee, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oncologist, here turns his inquisitive mind and considerable storytelling gifts to the cell, a structure both fundamental and highly varied. His subject may be literally tiny but its implications for medicine are tantalizingly vast.
In his quietly wrenching memoir, Hsu recalls his college friendship with Ken, who was killed in a carjacking less than three years after they met.
Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us
In this intimate and revelatory book, Aviv writes about people who have experienced mental health crises, and how the psychiatric explanations offered for what they were going through often came up short.
Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne
Both “a biography of Donne and an act of evangelism,” as Rundell puts it, this superb book rises to the challenge of introducing the poet and his world to a new generation, encouraging us to read him for how, as much as for what, he wrote.
The Trayvon Generation
The poet and scholar traces the effects of systemic racism and trauma on those who have grown up in the past 25 years, in a profound and lyrical meditation on race, class, justice and the ways young people have processed those issues through literature, music, dance and (especially) visual art.
Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation
Through case histories and independent reporting, the author elegantly traces the life-or-death effects of the legacy of slavery on Black health today: reproductive, environmental, mental and more. Villarosa “repositions various narratives about race and medicine … as evidence not of Black inferiority, but of racism in the health care system,” our reviewer wrote.
Walking the Bowl: A True Story of Murder and Survival Among the Street Children of Lusaka
This work of narrative ethnography by an anthropologist and an outreach worker opens with the discovery of a young murder victim, his corpse discarded at the dump, then widens its focus to take in the lives of Zambian youth who learn the rules of the undercity because they have to.
We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland
O’Toole, a prolific journalist and critic, didn’t think his own six decades merited an autobiography, so instead he wrote a “personal history” of contemporary Ireland in which the country’s dizzying 20th-century shifts — economic, religious, moral, social, political and geopolitical — come to vivid life via vignettes from O’Toole’s own life.
When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm
McKinsey & Company has built a global reputation for professionalism, smarts and ethics. But this damning exposé by two Times reporters shows how its work for dictators and opioid drug makers, among others, suggests a willingness to put profits ahead of values.