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Books We Love: NPR's end-of-the-year book recommendations


Books. What is not to love? Well, to help us figure out which 2022 books they'd love to recommend, NPR's books team brings us Books We Love. Andrew Limbong, who's the host of NPR's Book Of The Day podcast, joins us now. Hi, Andrew.


SUMMERS: All right. So I get really pumped when that fall email hits my inbox that asks all NPR staff for our recommendations. But for folks who do not know, tell us a little bit about Books We Love.

LIMBONG: OK, yeah. So it's, like, a little different from, you know, your regular-degular (ph) Top 10 countdown list of best books. So instead, you know, we reach out to critics and writers and, you know, literally everyone here at NPR and ask them, like, hey; what books from this year did you think rock? And the books team here at NPR does the really hard work of ingesting all of that and compiling all those books into, like, spreadsheets on spreadsheets and then curating them into a giant list. I think this year we've got, like, more than 400 books on the platform.

SUMMERS: OK. That is a really long reading list...


SUMMERS: ...Even for, like, the most dedicated reader.

LIMBONG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You don't got to read them all. You don't got to read them all. I think the best feature of Books We Love, the platform, are these filters on the side. So you can select books by these tags, you know, that are, like, book club ideas or tales from around the world or biography and memoir to narrow down the choices. So if you're looking for a book for yourself or buying a gift for someone else for the holidays, you know, the filters make your job super-easy to find the right book.

SUMMERS: OK, so let's just dig into this thing. What books stood out to you this year?

LIMBONG: So actually, I keep a Google doc that's just a list of books I want to read. And scrolling around Books We Love this morning, the list grew, you know, by a bit. There's some interesting nonfiction books out there. One I want to flag is Meghan O'Rourke's book, "The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness." It's a look at how ill-equipped our country's health care system is in regards to helping patients with long-term chronic illness. And, you know, it's especially interesting in light of what we know or don't know about long COVID.

On the fiction side of things, I'm super-excited to pick up this book called "Night Crawling" by Leila Mottley. It's about a teenager who finds herself at the center of a corrupt police sex trafficking ring. We actually featured a conversation between her and NPR's Ayesha Roscoe on the Book Of The Day pod a few months ago. And she was talking about how she was inspired by true events that happened inside the Oakland Police Department. So it's pretty gripping stuff to read.


LIMBONG: And then I think you recommended a book, right, Juana?

SUMMERS: Yeah, this was my first time. And my pick this year was the book "Tumble" by Celia Perez. And it's this incredible book about a young girl named Addie who's trying to unravel her origin story. It's really a book about what makes a family. And as it turns out, Addie's family legacy involves luchadores, or professional wrestlers. And I have to say I am actually a really big fan of YA books.

LIMBONG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's a ton of those out there and especially if you, like, lean a little younger for, like, kids' books, too. I've got these nieces I always buy books for, and Books We Love definitely, like, just comes in clutch when I'm just, like, stressing about picking something out.


LIMBONG: There's a few fun ones for kids this year. There's this book called "The Catalogue Of Hugs," which is by father-and-son duo Joshua David Stern (ph) and Augustus Heeren Stein and illustrated by Elizabeth Lilly. And it's, like, exactly what it sounds like. It's a catalog of different kinds of kid hugs. And there's another book called "Skater Cielo" by Rachel Katstaller about this little girl who's a skateboarder who eats it. She falls off her skateboard. But with some encouragement, you know, she gets back on.

SUMMERS: And, Andrew, with a couple of seconds we have left, give us just one pick, one of your favorite books of this year.

LIMBONG: One of my favorite books this year was "Lapvona" by Ottessa Moshfegh. If you know her, you know her writing, you know it's, like, gross and smelly and disgusting and kind of funny if you're into that.

SUMMERS: All right. I guess it's time for me to hit my local bookstore. NPR's Andrew Limbong. Thank you.

LIMBONG: Thanks, Juana.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANDERSON .PAAK SONG, "WHERE I GO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.