Most Popular Books with NPR Staff and Contributors: NPR

Miscellaneous / Emily Bogle for NPR

Various1/Emily Bogle for NPR

Miscellaneous / Emily Bogle for NPR

Since 2013, we’ve asked NPR staff and contributors to tell us about their favorite books of the year in our annual Books We Love project.

This year, we are starting early and publishing our recommendations in two parts. The first was released at the end of June and includes books published in the first semester. (The second will fall in the fall.)

There are readings on the beach and books that transport you to other times and other places.

Of the 167 books that made the cut, here are the 14 that have been most recommended so far.

The Hacienda by Isabel Canas


I’m a sucker for Gothic novels, and I loved the trend of Gothics taking place in an unexpected place (i.e. not Europe).

—Leah Donnella, Editor-in-Chief, Code switch

The Parisian apartment by Lucy Foley

William Morrow

Lucy Foley is back with her latest whodunit, this time in a weird Parisian apartment complex. With suspicious and unlovable characters in their own way and a fun twist, you’re in for a dark and brooding escape.

— Arielle Retting, Growth Editor, Digital News

How far do we go in the dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

William Morrow

Sequoia Nagamatsu’s debut is beautiful and unforgiving in its depiction of a world reeling from a blight brought on by a climatic catastrophe. Although the universe in which these stories are set is undeniably dark, Nagamatsu imbues his characters with a sense of cosmic hope and humanity.

— Summer Thomad, Production Assistant, Code switch

Chemistry class by Bonnie Garmus

Double day

The 1950s weren’t just mean to women with aspirations outside the home — they were punishing. This book is an often funny but infuriating read.

— Melissa Gray, Senior Producer, weekend edition

chilean poet by Alejandro Zambra, translated by Megan McDowell


This book paints a beautiful, hilarious, and sometimes excruciating portrait of what it means to be a cliche at different stages of your life. Alejandro Zambra makes all these stages rich and human, and the characters never get too old – or too stuck in their ways – to surpass themselves.

—Leah Donnella, Editor-in-Chief, Code switch

black cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Ballantine Books

Do any of us really to know our parents? I kept coming back to this question while reading this novel about Eleanor Bennett, a Caribbean-born woman whose secrets only bring her two estranged children together after her death.

— Melissa Gray, Senior Producer, weekend edition

disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

Penguin Press

If you graduated only to feel let down by academia, you will identify with disorientationa literary satire that takes a hilarious and refreshing look at the power dynamics of college campuses.

— Nayantara Dutta, freelance writer

funny you should ask by Elissa Susan


Chani Horowitz lands the dream gig: she’s in charge of writing the profile of a very sexy movie star. The two spend a weekend together — and the following article leaves readers wondering what really happened between them. A divorce, a drinking problem and a decade later, Chani and the star reunite for another interview. Is it a publicity stunt or something else? Look, it’s bad journalism to (maybe) sleep with your sources. But what hot-blooded human could pass up the dream of landing an interview with a Michael B. Jordan or a Harry Styles, only to make them fall in love with you?

— Lauren Migaki, Senior Producer, NPR Ed

Mouth to mouth by Antoine Wilson

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster

When you save someone’s life, do you become responsible? This is the question that propels Mouth to mouth forward. It’s a lean, existentialist drama, topped off with a satisfying ending.

— Anya Kamenetz, correspondent, NPR Ed

sea ​​of ​​tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel


World Builder is a phrase aptly used to describe Emily Mandel’s immersive powers as a novelist. I didn’t just read station eleven, The glass hotel or Mandel’s last, sea ​​of ​​tranquility. I lived in these novels.

— Maureen Corrigan, literary critic, Fresh air

mermaid queen by Nghi Vo


Magic pervades everything in Nghi Vo’s version of the world, with Wild Hunts stalking backlots and monstrous studio bosses devouring the unlucky and disadvantaged. She can take even the most mundane actions and describe them in ways you never thought of before and do it with heartbreaking beauty and layers of subtext.

— Alex Brown, librarian, critic and author

The nineties by Chuck Klosterman

Penguin Press

This book took me back through the decade, but this time as an adult. And for the first time, everything in 2022 clicked into place, like I watched the second season of a TV show and finally caught up to the first. If you were there, The nineties is a perfect reminder of what the decade was really about. If you were too young, he will tell you everything you need to know.

— Bronson Arcuri, Video Producer, NPR Visuals

What My Bones Know: A Memoir on Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo

Ballantine Books

In her early memoir, Stephanie Foo confronts her story growing up in an abusive home and, as an adult, struggling with complex PTSD, a disorder many refuse to even acknowledge. It’s an unwavering reminder of the hidden struggles many face, told with the keen eye of a researcher and the brutality of a documentarian.

— Sam Yellowhorse Kesler, Assistant Producer, Silver Planet

Scoundrel: How a convicted murderer persuaded the women who loved him, the conservative establishment and the courts to set him free
by Sarah Weinman


Scoundrel is an exceptionally gripping work of non-fiction, a true thriller that seamlessly interweaves the history and politics of its 1950s-70s setting.

— Carole V. Bell, literary critic


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