Top 10 books of 2022

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This was the year I found myself ready to challenge myself as a reader again, after so many years all I wanted was comfort food. I greatly enjoyed the narrative that confronted me: with my personal failures in friendship, with my own unease, and with new ways of thinking about art. The 10 books I loved the most this year aren’t DifficultExactly – or at least they aren’t All Difficult. But they all worked at the peak of their intellect, spoke in a slew of difficult, even solitary voices, and rewarded attentive reading with access to minds quite different from mine.

[You can also read Slate book critic Laura Miller’s top 10 list here.]

All this could be different

By Sarah Thankam Matthews. Viking.

The heroine of this first novel is a twenty-something queer American Indian living alone in Milwaukee, working a menial corporate job that eats away at the young soul she has left. With thorny and nostalgic maneuvers, Sneha weaves her way through good and bad friends, good and bad lovers, and parents she can never understand–and who she will never understand. Leaves understand it. Can society save her, or will she find a way to screw that up too? nominated for the National Book Award, All this could be different is a gritty portrait of the fragility and solidarity of the late Obama era, fueled by a narrator who demands our respect and rejects our pity.

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By James O’Reilly. Little Brown.

A lively family memoir of growing up without a mother in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Syams and his tithe? ten!The siblings make their way through the ’90s and beyond, supported by a father quietly unwilling to let the family fall apart. It sounds like it should be sly, but O’Reilly’s fiercely observant comic voice undercuts the drama. What a burden it was on Mother’s Day, he notes, with teachers and neighbors “bobbing around me like I was a sad little gingerbread mine.”

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By James Hannaham. Little Brown.

This gritty, angry tour de force is told in the inimitable voice of Carlotta, a trans woman just out of prison after a 20-year stint, back in Brooklyn and looking to change her life just as she changed herself. Hannaham’s gritty novel presents a sharp debate about imprisonment and poverty in America with a voice that burns with situation and invention. He nails the end.

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By Helen DeWitt. New Directions Books.

At just 69 pages, this irresistibly sublime novel is one serving as crisp and cool as the glass of Pauline-Montrachet the 17-year-old heroine drinks at lunch. Part of the delightful short story series in New Directions, English understand wool is our satirist’s elegant revenge on the publishing business. Drink deeply, and feel the chill down your spine.

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In Lenny Tails. Bio Studio.

The Most Beautiful Book of the Year is also a charming adventure story and a testament to vigilant indie comic publishing. Swedish cartoonist Stirti spins a tiny frog that follows two grizzly frogs in search of a tropical island. But winter is coming, the plum trees can talk, and what will they do about the coastal cat village? Slide this exquisitely printed and beautifully packaged mini epic from its cover is like pressing play to the Miyazaki movie you faintly remember from childhood. Buy it now, because its publisher is going out of business at the end of the year.

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By Rothana Emress. tordotcom.

A heartwarming, intimate sci-fi epic that leaps across the solar systems yet still has a strong focus on the comforts of home. Set in the year 2083, Half built garden It follows members of a small group of watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay as they become humans’ first point of contact with an alien race. The Rangers, as the aliens are called, have arrived to save Earth from an environmental disaster; Humans have spent decades undoing twenty mistakesThe tenth century, and do not want to leave. This thoughtful film made me think deeply about the future of planet Earth, and what is worth saving.

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In January, just months after The Bad Art Friend saga dominated the internet, this witty little novel was published, giving a delicious twist to the not-so-fatal question of who owns a story. The final solution It is a subjective fantasy, but it is not. It’s metafiction, but it’s more than that. It’s a commercial thriller that asks: What is the purpose of a book like this? I couldn’t stop reading it, and felt completely bummed out afterwards—what a joy.

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Written by Lynn Tillman. soft skull.

Tillman’s memoir of the decade she and her sisters spent caring for their aging mother before her death is so barren and unemotional that it feels, at first, like the darkest of jokes: a memoir of a callous and unconcerned caregiver. But Tillman’s cold, hard realities—the resentments, the annoyances, the heartbreaks, and above all the inexorable breakdown of character we all must eventually go through—may read as satisfying realism for those who lived out their own versions. from this story. After all, as Tillman wrote, “I want to say about this situation: it is impossible to understand it completely correctly.”

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Written by Linda Rosenkrantz. Magic Clock Press.

One December day in 1974, one week before I was born, author Linda Rosenkrantz sat down with photographer Peter Hugar in her Lower East Side apartment and asked him to describe everything he remembered about yesterday on her tape recorder. The resulting text, written verbatim, is composed Peter Hogar Day, reprinted late last year by Magic Hour Press. The names Hujar lists in just one ordinary day—Sontag, Ginsberg, Kupferberg, Lebowitz—combine with his photographer’s eye to create a portrait of a very specific moment in American art and his own place in it. I loved this experience for its peek into a world I would never experience, and the way you make conversation important to culture.

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By Jesse Singer. Simon & Schuster.

No book I read in 2022 changed the way I thought about my city, my safety, or the challenges ahead as this powerful chronicle of American neglect. “More people die by accident today than at any other time in American history,” Singer writes, urging readers to consider the cultural, political, and economic decisions that will ensure that number continues to grow. A non-fiction journalism business model powered by reporting, grief and anger, There are no accidents It will open your eyes to the connections between the many ways our society seems not to function: streets, courts, hospitals, and more. And it might just get the word out incident from your lexicon forever.