Your #ObjectivesBooks 2022
Most of my worksheets are ghost towns. Long-term financial goals. Short-term task lists. Exercise regimes. All are dropped soon after they are created, multicolored time capsules full of past resolutions that quickly felt like homework.
But I take my annual reading spreadsheet pretty seriously. There is a tab for books I own but haven’t read, tabs for books I want to read (fiction and not), another for authors I would like to read more of. The most important tab keeps track of the books I read that year. My 2022 list is empty now, but I’ll get some sort of quiet satisfaction from adding a title every time I finish a book. Why? Because I have goals from books.
Consciously, I tell myself that I want to read 40 a year. Unconsciously, I shoot for 52. At the bottom of some Creation sublevel, I know I could make 100 if I left Reddit.
It is a blessing and a curse that there is a subreddit for everything; Of course, there is an r / 52Books where people with book goals post screenshots of their earnings. It’s quite low-key and encouraging. One Redditor made 104 in 2021. Another reached 117. I don’t know how you can keep a job while consuming every Neal Stephenson novel in a year, but someone did.
I cannot exactly recommend Book Goals. Once you have them, you might find yourself browsing a Karl Ove Knausgaard audiobook at double speed while cleaning your fridge. Or you stick with an arrogant historical novel long after it bleeds your brains out just so you can add another line to your ledger.
But if you want to improve your reading game, Book Goals might be for you. This is how I do it. Yes, audiobooks and graphic novels matter. Ditto with news and chapbooks. Get a few pounds at a time if you can; maybe a thriller for your lunch break and a literary drama on your bedside table. Use audiobooks for the tough stuff – large volumes of non-fiction about systemic racism, climate change, Neanderthal tool-making, and more. Borrow from the library. Borrow from friends. Be aware of summer slowdowns and winter hustle and bustle. Ditch the bad books. Make reading a part of your daily routine, but give yourself a break when you need to. Set yourself a modest pound goal because it is supposed to do some good.
Here are some new books to start your year (and maybe your spreadsheet).
Like just about all pandemic-centric fictions released over the past two years, How far we go in the dark was imagined long before the emergence of COVID-19. And so this beautiful and strange epic – which includes absurdities as gruesome as a disease that turns lungs into livers and hearts into brains, and euthanasia parks in which sick children are treated on a last day of rides and candy before being slaughtered – that rarely looks like the world as we know it today. Nonetheless, the novel moves in its gently unbalanced way. Sequoia Nagamatsu’s tender humor lends a weary kind of acceptance to the story that jumps in time and turns the world upside down, even when things get darker and weirder. It’s not going to end well, but then you will enjoy riding. (William Morrow, $ 27.99, January 18)
During her lifetime, Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) sought to center black American culture not only through its peaks – and she was one of those peaks; see Their eyes looked at God, Mules and Men, and more – but also his daily life: language, folklore, religious expression, music, etc. Everything is art and deserves praise, she says in this new collection of career-spanning essays, some of which are unpublished or have not been published for 60 years or more. Hurston’s prose is often erudite and often passionate, but sometimes it’s his quick wit that steals the show: It’s exciting enough to hold the center of the national stage, with viewers unsure of whether to laugh or cry. . Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Genevieve West. (Amistad, $ 29.99, January 18)
In standard Judeo-Christian teaching, the popular deity God is often described in word and deed, but we rarely observe Him. Intrigued, Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion teacher in Exeter) pored over ancient texts and discovered surprisingly detailed descriptions of the Lord’s feet, face, genitals, and more. “The God revealed in this book is the divinity as his ancient worshipers saw him,” she writes. “An oversized, muscular and handsome god with supra-human powers, earthly passions, and a fondness for the fantastic and the monstrous.” There was a time when an insolent book like God: an anatomy, written by a declared atheist like Stavrakopoulou, would find himself banished or burnt. Now we are too enlightened and less well read, and perhaps late for retribution. (Knopf, $ 35, January 25)
A sort of rapture took place before the start of Tochi Onyebuchi’s new novel, except that only the rich who left Earth, and everyone – already poor, marginalized and speechless – is doomed to live on a radioactive planet. in ruins. (In fact, it’s worse than that; the rich always go by to plunder the place, sometimes tearing up homes and transporting them to their fancy space colonies.) Told from many angles, Goliath is a story of just survival in a land. selected. on the world marred by ugliness and violence. Onyebuchi just won a Hugo award for the 2020s Riot Baby, and it looks like he has another winner in this clever, muscular sci-fi story that uses futuristic concepts to comment on 2022 / eternal class issues, deprivation of civil rights, and cold hard capitalism. (Tor, $ 26.99, January 25)
Have you seen the loneliness of the real mid-list detective writer? Clever enough to know what’s selling, but perhaps a little too empathetic towards his killers and victims to grab the attention of airport bookstores, Gage Chandler lucidly writes about lesser-known horrors. At the start of this fascinating new novel by John Darnielle (also the frontman of rock group The Mountain Goats), Chandler moves into a house where multiple murders took place decades ago, when it was a closed porn store, and aims to unearth the real story, if possible. Like her protagonist, Darnielle draws every ounce of humanity and suspense from her characters but never drifts into meditation or meanders. True crime fans will wriggle in the tension of the building and rejoice when things do turn out badly. Do you want blood? You got it. (MCD, $ 28, January 25)
Dagger zine founder Hinley brings together a gallery of rogue musicians from across the country to create a sort of oral history of sacred, secular, and bygone rock clubs (including Philly spots like Revival, Khyber Pass, Astrocade, etc.). Lots of old photos and punk flyers too. (HoZac, $ 26.50, now available)
Journalists Mark Bowden (The Atlantic, ex-Inky) and Matthew Teague (Esquire) put together an in-depth account of The Big Lie as he marched from one battlefield state to another, losing court time all the time unfounded. (Atlantic Monthly Press, $ 28, January 4)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker staff member goes personal, writing about meeting his wife, the loss of his father, and more in this thoughtful and uplifting memoir. (Random House, $ 27, January 11)
Hulu has already gobbled up this debut novel’s rights to two prominent Nuyorican siblings forced to heed family secrets as a devastating hurricane looms in the distance (Flatiron Books, $ 27.99, January 11)
A captivating glimpse into the ways in which humanity has strived to cover its collective buttocks and the political, social and environmental ripples that come with it. (Panthéon, $ 30, January 25)
More books to come
Look for the monthly roundup of good reads by Patrick Rapa on Inquirer.com and in the Sunday Inquirer.