Your local bookstores would like you to do your holiday shopping nice and early. Like, now. How about you start now? Can you imagine? You do all your shopping now and then you’re done and you don’t have to go broke or crazy in December? Doesn’t that sound nice? Here are the books I loved the most this year—they aren’t all brand new, and some of them I’ve read before, but maybe they are new to you! I’ve been making an effort to not just read the endless deluge of galleys that land on my doorstep, and it seems, based on this list, like I’m doing a better job than last year. I’ve written about most of these previously in this newsletter, but here they are all together.
Also: a caveat. Please know that lists are bullshit, and subjective. So are awards! If you’re on them, they’re great, and if you’re not, they are meaningless. If you happen to be a writer who published a book this year, and you are not on this list, I give you a hug and a high-five and I probably haven’t read your book yet. That’s what’s truly wonderful about books—reading them in your own time. Am I salty when my book—any of my books, but especially, in enormous, flashing capital letters, this book—is not on fancy lists? Yes. This book is my entire heart, all of it, and if people don’t like it, I actually can’t imagine they would a) like to have a conversation with me b) like any of my other books, perhaps with the exception of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, my sweet ol’ black sheep, c) have a heart beating in their chest. But, you know, you do you! (Not you, reading this—if you are reading this and have not purchased/borrowed a copy of This Time Tomorrow, please do not pass go and do that now. There are signed copies at Books Are Magic.)
Without further ado, my favorite books of 2022!
Old books! (Meaning, published pre-2022)
Now this is a fucking novel. For a solid paragraph on Zadie’s genius, see the previous newsletter.
The Book of Delights, Ross Gay
On my best days, this is how I’m trying to live. Seeing, identifying, and appreciating the delight that crosses my path every day.
One of my all time faves. Marie is bad bad bad and I love her. If TikTok was paying attention to brilliant, sexy, baaaaad women (are they? kind of?), Marcy would be selling millions of copies a week.
This is obviously not a new story, but it is a new, stand-alone edition, with a forward by Zadie Smith. I listened to the audiobook, and Zadie’s introduction is about as long as the story, and made me feel like I had made good decisions in life, like choosing to go to college or grad school were Zadie Smith was my professor. A perfect combo.
I caught this in paperback! It’s not very old, but I did miss the hardcover boat and so therefore it goes in the pre-2022 category! Mental health, marriage, motherhood, family, and funny! If you like Sally Rooney but also want to laugh, you might love it. I loved it. Ann Patchett loved it. Do you need more than that?
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace
Absolute perfection. I listened, and will likely listen again. I laughed out loud, and found the ending deeply sad. Sometimes listening from the future is hard. Also, this audiobook is free, so there’s really no reason not to do it.
All hail Louise.
Dirtbag Massachusetts, Isaac Fitzgerald
You know how when you make friends as an adult, you wish you could just sort of do a life story download, where you learn everything about how your friend got to be who they are? This is that, for my friend Isaac. Luckily he’s friends with the whole world so I’m not the only one who needed it. Men, be vulnerable! It’s good!
Okay, I talked about this book like six times in this newsletter, I’m pretty sure, but here are the bullet points: writer father/daughter duo, New York City, art, poetry, love, sickness. My sister. <3
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
IMHO, this should have won every single prize this year. Come on, Pulitzer, you can do it!
The Hero of This Book, Elizabeth McCracken
Elizabeth McCracken is a goddamn magician. Fiction? Non-fiction? Who cares! An amazing and funny portrait of grief. My mom loved it too.
Funny You Should Ask, Elissa Sussman
A romp! I love a romp. Celebrity, growth, mistakes, a delight. Appeals directly to The Who Weekly corner of my brain.
In other news, my kids have been sick non-stop for a month, our new store opens in three weeks, and I’m still drunk on grief. If any of this is incoherent, well, then, yes. This is a free newsletter. And again, if you haven’t yet bought a copy of This Time Tomorrow for your sixteen best friends, you can do ahead and do that now. It’s actually a great present for a) dads b) people who were teens in the 1990s c) New Yorkers and those who love New York d) people who love time travel e) people I went to high school with if they want to see if I make private jokes. (I do.)
Next week I go to Italy to meet with my Italian publisher, and it’ll be my first time talking about my book since my father died. How will it go? We’ll see! Someone better pour me one of those sexy Negronis with Prosecco, and I expect to sleep in a bathtub full of cacio e pepe. Grazie in advance.
I loved This Time Tomorrow and it's definitely on my list of 2022 favorites. I was 19 in the fall of 1996 so a little older than you, but you really nailed the 1996 of it all. And your dad was amazing and I am so sorry you lost him.
This: This Time Tomorrow: "It’s actually a great present for a) dads b) people who were teens in the 1990s c) New Yorkers and those who love New York d) people who love time travel e) people I went to high school with if they want to see if I make private jokes. (I do.)" is all true!! And thank you for helping me complete all my Christmas shopping (for myself. maybe a couple of other people get some books--once I'm done with them. Ergh. all right...maybe I'll give them a fresh copy.). Cacio e pepe. heaven.