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Fiction books to get you through 2022

After two years of living through a global pandemic, we all crave a little relaxation. And what better way to chill out than with a great book? Fiction books help us escape no matter where we’re curled up reading: a cozy armchair, the beach or on the train or bus during a busy morning commute. Even if you have a soft spot for classic novels, there’s a special joy that comes from anticipating a new release from your favorite author—or even a debut author whose book blurb piqued your interest.

That’s why we narrowed down a list of some of the best fiction books released (or soon to be released) in 2022. These titles span several genres and are handpicked based on recommendations from Reader’s Digest editors. Along with new novels from previous award-winning authors, we’ve also added a few debut novels that have generated positive buzz from advanced readers.

With everything from romance novels, mystery books, fantasy books, beach reads and feminist books to future best books of all time (or at least the best books of 2022!), there’s sure to be one you’ll want to crack open soon.

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1. The Maid by Nita Prose

Release date: Jan. 4, 2022

Nita Prose’s debut novel has the perfect Clue-like beginning: A grand hotel. A motley cast of personality-rich characters. And, of course, a murder. The story’s protagonist is a hotel maid named Molly Gray who quickly becomes a suspect in the case. Molly sees things a little differently. She notices details that others might miss, but she also struggles to follow social rules that others find natural. Fans of cozy mysteries, locked-room investigations, books for women and Agatha Christie fiction will fall head over heels for The Maid.

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2. Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Release date: Jan. 4, 2022

Another much-anticipated debut novel, Olga Dies Dreaming is the perfect new fiction book for fans of witty rom-coms that aren’t afraid to ask complex questions or tackle tricky courses beneath the veneer of sparkling humor. Set in New York and anchored in time by Puerto Rico’s devastating hurricane Maria, the story follows Olga, a Latinx wedding planner, as she grapples with her own less-than-fairy-tale love story and the return of a long-lost mother. Author Xochitl Gonzalez gives readers a modern romance complete with themes of race, identity, political corruption and the American dream. This one seems destined to be a top pick for online book clubs and book subscription boxes.

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3. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

Release date: Jan. 11, 2022

To Paradise takes place in an alternate New York reality that can be seen as utopian or dystopian, depending on the person’s position in society. Readers will meet characters in 1893, 1993 and 2093. From these disparate times and versions of America, characters survive crises like the AIDS epidemic and totalitarian rule as well as personal, intimate tragedies. Despite the varying plot lines, a common thread pulls every scene together: the question of what makes us human and what makes us love.

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4. Violeta by Isabel Allende

Release date: Jan. 25, 2022

If you prefer sweeping historical fiction to page-turning beach reads, you’ll want to leave a space for Violeta on the nightstand. It’s one in a long line of beautiful fiction books from acclaimed Hispanic author Isabel Allende, who wrote The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna. This new book release is told in the form of a letter to someone deeply loved. Violeta’s life is marked by a series of cataclysmic, far-reaching events: the Spanish flu pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cuban Revolution and even the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, Violeta survives with passion and determination.

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5. The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

Release date: Jan. 25, 2022

Fiona Davis’s latest historical fiction mystery whisks readers away to the Frick mansion, a palace of political power, secret trysts and tangled family histories. Told in dual timelines, the book follows art model Lillian Carter in the 1920s and mod model Veronica Weber in the 1970s as the two become embroiled in the dramas of the Frick residence. The Magnolia Palace is the full package: mystery, history, rich characters and lavish details about art, money and high society in days gone by.

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7. The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

Release date: Feb. 1, 2022

Here’s another crime-fueled page-turner for you! But Brendan Slocumb’s The Violin Conspiracy is far from a formulaic mystery. It’s the story of Ray, a Black violinist whose love of music finally blossoms after discovering that his great-great-grandfather’s old fiddle is a world-renowned violin. But when the priceless heirloom is stolen from him just before a major performance, the musician must race to trace a random note and recover his life’s work. This is one of those fiction books set to take its genre to the next level. It’s a literary thriller rife with themes of art, history, racism and overcoming adversity.

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8. Our American Friend by Anna Pitoniak

Release date: Feb. 15, 2022

Shake up political drama, international espionage and potentially tyrannous female friendship. What do you get? Anna Pitoniak’s latest novel. In Our American Friend, you’ll meet USSR-born First Lady Lara Caine and jaded journalist Sofie Morse. When Lara inquires after Sofie to write her biography, the two strike up an unlikely friendship. But what is Lara’s motive? And what does it mean for Sofie to be caught in a strategic political game of international proportions? Whether you love mystery, interpersonal drama or friendship books, this is a new release you won’t be able to put down.

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9. The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

Release date: Mar. 1, 2022

Alex Finlay’s twisty new thriller follows the intersecting lives of two victims of murder attempts. One narrowly escaped a tragic night shift at a Blockbuster on the eve of Y2K. The other lives through a harrowing night shift at an ice cream parlor in the same town 15 years later. Are the attempted slayings connected? What are the police missing? And is reliving the traumatic stories worth it to find out? Encompassing the genres of thriller, mystery and horror, The Night Shift is a novel that will stick with you.

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10. Girl in Ice by Erica Ferencik

Release date: Mar. 1, 2022

Though not a vampire book, Erica Ferencik’s Girl in Ice bears echoes of the undead. In the chill of the Arctic Circle, a researcher discovers a young girl frozen in ice. When the ice thaws, she begins to speak. Thus, protagonist Valerie “Val” Chesterfield, a linguist specializing in dead Nordic languages, is summoned. But though Val is willing to help, returning to arctic waters unleashes memories of her twin brother’s mysterious death by exposure to the elements.

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11. Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton

Release date: Mar. 7, 2022

You read that right. One of the most anticipated fiction books of the year was co-authored by the country music queen herself, Dolly Parton. The powerhouse writing duo’s tale of a young singer-songwriter escaping to Nashville will appeal to young readers as much as longtime bibliophiles and Dolly fans. It’s as much the story of AnnieLee Keyes leaving an abusive past behind as it is a hard-knocks tale of relying on grit and creativity to achieve a dream. Fun fact: While this is the songstress’s first novel, it’s not her first book. In the ’90s, her autobiography hit the bestseller list.

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13. The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Release date: Mar. 8, 2022

Part domestic psychological drama, part cat-and-mouse page turner, The Golden Couple is one of those fiction books you might expect to devour in a weekend. Readers will get to know three main characters: posh married couple Marissa and Matthew Bishop and their unlicensed therapist, Avery. When the Bishops’ picture-perfect life starts to crumble, who will take the fall? The twisty tale of lies, lies and more lies is perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

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14. The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

Release date: Mar. 15, 2022

Peng Shepherd does it again. While The Book of M gave readers a dark, futuristic, speculative thriller, The Cartographers delves into the mysteries of the past. The story (also available as an audiobook) follows Nell Young, a cartographer with a complicated relationship with her father. When he is found dead, she uses a map found in his desk to seek answers. The plot unfolds fast and furiously, covering academic drama, science and art, a dark family secret and a bit of magic.

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15. Remember Me Gone by Stacy Stokes

Release date: Mar. 22, 2022

Imagine being able to forget your worst, most embarrassing moments. Would you? In Remember Me Gone, Stacy Stokes’s young adult fiction debut, Lucy’s father has the power to take away memories. That’s why folks swarm their little Texas town: They want help forgetting something or other. But when Lucy becomes old enough to learn his skill, she witnesses one of her dad’s memories—one she wasn’t meant to see. This fast-paced paranormal thriller blends science fiction, fantasy and a touch of adolescent romance. But what makes it stand apart are the deep, thought-provoking questions woven into the story. What would you choose to forget? And what secrets are worth remembering?

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16. What Happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline

Release date: Mar. 29, 2022

Yet another much-anticipated suspense novel, What Happened to the Bennetts presents readers with a classic conundrum: What if you had to choose between following the law and finding true justice? In this fast-paced book, a carjacking changes the lives of the Bennetts forever. They’re shuttled into witness protection, where they begin to crumble under psychological stress, chronic uncertainty and complete lack of control over their own paths. But when the father gets wind of what really precipitated that one random act of violence, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

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17. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Release date: Apr. 5, 2022

In a flood of new book releases, Emily St. John Mandel’s work always stands out. Whether you loved the sci-fi book Station Eleven or fell for Vincent in The Glass Hotel, you’ll be swept away by the author’s mind yet again in Sea of Tranquility. This time, she takes us from the wilds of North American forests to future cities to the stark artificiality of a moon colony. It’s a novel about human grit through literal space and time—a multidimensional, multi-timeline story for readers who like to sink their teeth into a good book.

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18. Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Release date: Apr. 5, 2022

The author of Shuggie Bain returns with an LGBTQ book centered on romance in religious communities where such relationships are hidden or damned. Young Mungo takes place in working-class Glasgow, Scotland, where Protestant Mungo and Catholic James forge a friendship that deepens to something more. When Mungo is forced away by his parents, he experiences a frightening encounter with two strange men—one that makes him realize he and James need to find their way back to each other and to safety.

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19. Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen

Release date: Apr. 19, 2022

Welcome to Garnett, Texas, where locals gather for gossip and drinks at the honky-tonks and investigator Annie McIntyre cuts her teeth on a missing-person mystery. In Pay Dirt Road, author Samantha Jayne Allen paints a detailed picture of small-town Texas life and invites readers along on a crime-solving adventure full of deepening family relationships and life lessons.

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20. Trust by Hernan Diaz

Release date: May 3, 2022

Straddling the line between literary and historical fiction, Trust invites readers into New York City in the 1920s. Meet Benjamin and Helen Raks, a Wall Street suit and aristocratic darling. Of course, everything is not as it seems, but when has it ever been? Enter a world of power, money and glittering facades to find out just how they’ve made their fortune and what it means for the people they’ve invited into their fold. Next, check out these stellar Kindle Unlimited books and read for free.

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21. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Release date: May 3, 2022

Did you love A Man Called Ove? What about the 2020 Netflix original My Octopus Teacher? Shelby Van Pelt’s Remarkably Bright Creatures ripples with similarities to the two acclaimed works while staying wholly original. This debut novel follows a lost widow who takes a night shift job at the local aquarium. It’s a way to stay busy. It’s a way to pass the time. But soon her nights are brightened by an unlikely friend: Marcellus, the aquarium’s giant octopus. The warm, quirky, feel-good book, which includes perspectives from Marcellus himself, is sure to reel in rave reader reviews.

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22. Book of Night by Holly Black

Release date: May 3, 2022

This dark, deeply imaginative adult urban fantasy novel from veteran young adult author Holly Black follows con artist Charlie Hall’s foray into the underground world of trading with shadow selves—the separated shadows that harbor everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets. It’s a story steeped in secret societies, magic thieves and plain human trauma. In other words, it’s poised to be one of the next great adult fantasy hits. When you’re done, you’ll want to gobble up Black’s teen book series for more intricate world-building.

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23. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Release date: May 3, 2022

Emily Henry’s newest romance thrums with enemies-to-lovers vibes. Heroine Nora Stephen is a literary agent who agrees to go on a trip with her sister to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. It’s meant to be a blissful girls getaway. Instead, she runs into a rival literary acquaintance, who is also taking time away from the city. It’s the perfect setup for a spring romance novel or summer beach read.

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25. This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Release date: May 17, 2022

In This Time Tomorrow, prolific author Emma Straub plays with time travel like these time travel books. On the eve of her 40th birthday, protagonist Alice reflects on life—then suddenly wakes up on the morning of her Sweet 16. The book explores memories, longing and some of life’s big questions, like what you might do differently if you could go back.

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26. You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Release date: May 24, 2022

Our list of much-anticipated 2022 reads wouldn’t be complete without this lush novel from Akwaeke Emezi. Our hero, Feyi Adekola, is still healing from the tragic death of her partner. She’s ready to ease into the dating scene again but is plunged, all at once, into the deep end. A rooftop party leads to a summer fling, which leads to a potential long-term relationship. But if she’s so happy, why does she feel so attracted to the one person she’s not allowed to love?

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27. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Release date: June 7, 2022

Meet Nora Hamilton, the brains behind the latest romance channel hits and the protagonist of Nora Goes Off Script. After a heart-shattering breakup, she comes up with her most brilliant plot yet: a romantic movie that spotlights her ex’s selfishness. But life goes off-script when her little screenplay gets picked up as a big-screen blockbuster. Suddenly, Nora must learn to navigate Hollywood—and the sexy celebrities she encounters along the way.

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28. The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Release date: June 7, 2022

This story within a story within a story (intrigued yet?) takes place in the studying room of the Boston Public Library. The typically peaceful retreat turns to chaos at the sound of a woman’s ear-piercing shriek. Security instructs four strangers in the library to stay put until authorities have secured the area. As time passes, friendships blossom, secrets come to light and a murderer is eventually revealed.

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27. Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

Release date: June 21, 2022

Ottessa Moshfegh’s Lapvona has a captivating premise: In a medieval village, an abused motherless boy finds solace in the company of the local midwife, whose mystical gifts scare some of the other neighbors. But when an incident with the town priest and prevailing feudal lord occurs, the boy becomes part of a violent clash of forces—new and old, natural and spiritual, and the very natures of life and death. Find more great fiction on this list of banned books that everyone needs to read.

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30. The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

Release date: June 21, 2022

Julie Clark’s latest thriller follows two women whose lives intertwine for the second time. First, there’s Kat Roberts, the whip-smart journalist hell bent on unmasking the con woman who has eluded her for 10 years. Then there’s the slippery pro herself: alternately known as Meg Williams, Maggie Littleton and Melody Wilde. When the two strike up a friendship—driven by their ulterior motives—who will come out on top? And how many lies will they tell before the truth comes out?

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31. Gilt by Jamie Brenner

Release date: June 21, 2022

From the author of The Forever Summer and Blush comes a glittering gem so escapist that it also landed on our summer studying list. Jamie Brenner’s Gilt invites readers to spy on a family of wealthy jewelers. When prodigal daughter Gemma Maybrook returns to visit one sizzling summer, a veritable Pandora’s box of secrets opens. Follow the lush drama from high society New York to sunny Cape Cod.

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32. The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Release date: June 28, 2022

A spicy, supernatural romantic comedy for anyone tired of plain ol’ vanilla rom-coms, The Dead Romantics delivers with wit, quirks and, yes, a ghost story. Meet Florence Day, a New York City ghostwriter whose latest breakup has convinced her that romance is dead for good. But then a couple of very real deaths occur, landing Florence back in her hometown to face the ghosts of her past—along with a decidedly sexy spirit standing on the doorstep of the local funeral parlor. Alternating between poignant themes of death and grief and laugh-out-loud humor, this romance will have you flipping pages into the wee hours of the night.

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33. The Hidden One by Linda Castillo

Release date: July 5, 2022

The Hidden Ones protagonist Kate Hurholder is not Amish. But as the police chief in an Amish community, she has grown familiar with the community’s intricacies and norms. But when she’s summoned to solve a cold murder case in Pennsylvania’s Kishacoquillas Valley, she realizes that Amish culture can vary wildly from place to place. So can she chalk up Bishop Stolzfus’s evasive actions to cultural differences—or does the man know more than he’s letting on? The plot only thickens when Kate runs into her first love in Pennsylvania. By the time you turn the final page, you may be inspired to pick up a nonfiction book about the Amish.

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34. Florida Woman by Deb Rogers

Release date: July 5, 2022

Deb Rogers’s darkly comic thriller opens when Jamie, a lifelong Florida woman, is caught on film during one of the most embarrassing moments of her life. Relieved to get community service rather than jail time for her crime, Jamie heads off to Atlas, a monkey sanctuary. But all is not as it seems. She is soon consumed by the sinister world of Atlas, complete with sacrifices and cult-like adoration for the organization’s leaders. This is a suspenseful novel for readers seeking a good LGBTQ+ contemporary mystery.

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35. The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci

Release date: July 12, 2022

Travis Devine, the main character of The 6:20 Man, is a man of routine. Every morning, he puts on a cheap suit, picks up his cheap briefcase and heads out on the 6:20 train to Manhattan. Every day, he peers out the train window and dreams about living large like one of the elite financial investors he sees in passing. Then one day, everything changes. He’s blackmailed into participating in an investigation into those very investors. As he infiltrates their lavish lives and learns more about their shady schemes, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a murderer.

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36. The Floating Girls by Lo Patrick

Release date: July 12, 2022

Did you love Where the Crawdads Sing or the movie adaptation of the book? Then you’ll fall head over heels for this evocative coming-of-age drama told from the perspective of 12-year-old Kay. In the summer heat of Bledsoe, Georgia, Kay experiences the loss of a sister, a blossoming friendship with a boy and the trouble and heartbreak of family secrets.

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37. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Release date: July 19, 2022

Whether you’re already a fan of Things You Save in a Fire and How to Walk Away or utterly new to Katherine Center’s writing, her latest summer sizzler will satisfy any craving for lighthearted romance. Hannah Brooks looks cute and unassuming—the opposite of her life as a bodyguard. When she’s hired to protect sexy celebrity Jack Stapleton from a stalker, the two pretend they’re dating during Jack’s visit home. Fans of The Wedding Date and The Proposal, you know where this is going!

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38. The Other Guest by Helen Cooper

Release date: July 26, 2022

Helen Cooper’s latest page-turner slams together two unrelated women’s lives in the aftermath of a tragedy at an Italian resort. Leah knows deep down that her niece’s death was not an accidental drowning. And far away in England, a woman named Joanna knows deep down that her sexy new beau might be too good to be true. The truth is that Leah and Joanna’s lives are already intertwined and on the brink of another potentially devastating collision. Not sure what to read after you binge The Other Guest? Try picking your next book based on your zodiac sign.

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39. Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Release date: Aug. 9, 2022

What would you do if you woke up with no memory of the last two years, no phone and “stay awake” written in black ink all over your hands and arms? This is how Liv Reese finds herself in the opening pages of Stay Awake. The breathtaking thriller unfolds as Liv runs from a crime she doesn’t remember committing. She does everything in her power to discover why her memories have disappeared into thin air—and who is responsible for the erasure.

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40. Lucy Checks In by Dee Ernst

Release date: Aug. 16, 2022

Love Under the Tuscan Sun? You’ll feel right at home following Lucy Checks In‘s 49-year-old protagonist to the French countryside, where she moves to fix up and manage the storied Hotel Paradis. Of course, renovating a rickety inn can be a monumental task, so Lucy experiences more than her fair share of funny misfortunes along the way. This heartwarming women’s fiction story about new beginnings brims with fresh friendships, blossoming romance and mouthwatering descriptions of French food.

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41. The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding

Release date: Aug. 16, 2022

New York Times bestselling author Joy Fielding reels us in again with this riveting domestic drama. Thriving real estate agent Jodi Bishop knows her aging parents could use a helping hand at home, so she hires a housekeeper. Vibrant and warm, Elyse Woodley seems perfect for the job. But when Jodi’s parents seem to deteriorate rapidly while clinging to Elyse’s care more than their own daughter’s, Jodi has to wonder: Is the housekeeper really there to help her family? Or is something sinister afoot?

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42. Fox Creek by William Kent Krueger

Release date: Aug. 23, 2022

William Kent Krueger’s latest nail-biting thriller plops readers into the Boundary Waters, where hunters have swarmed in search of a woman named Dolores Morriseau. She herself seeks a haven with a local Ojibwe healer. Told from multiple perspectives, the book weaves together drama, mystery and masterful Native American storytelling.

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43. Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Release date: Aug. 30, 2022

Here’s one for the sports fans, the athletes and anyone who knows what it’s like to put everything on the line for ambition. Taylor Jenkins Reid’s beloved tennis hero Carrie Soto is back. This time, she’s decided to leave her early retirement and take a stab at one more win. But of course, the world of sports moves quickly. At the age of 37, can Carrie pull off another triumph? With themes of ambition, sacrifice and self-doubt, plus a sizzle of romance, this book deserves a spot on your 2022 must-read list.

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44. Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

Release date: Aug. 30, 2022

Other Birds invites readers to dip their toes into magical realism with the story of the Dellawisp, a building inhabited by quirky people haunted by personal secrets and longings—and ghosts. There’s Zoey, who’s trying to connect with her late mother in the apartment she once owned. There’s the isolated chef. A famed writer. A mystery girl who’s running from something—or someone. Here, Sarah Addison Allen offers a beautiful, lyrical story about love, friendship and found family—an ideal book club book that’ll supply you plenty of things to discuss with the group.

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45. The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe

Release date: Sept. 13, 2022

Enemies to lovers. Second chances. Bookish characters. All find a place on the pages of Jenny L. Howe’s The Make-Up Test, a deliciously swoony story of academic rivals. When a family emergency forces Allison Avery and Colin Benjamin on a weekend road trip together, they realize just how much chemistry their brains and bodies have together. But with hearts and a coveted job position on the line, is choosing love worth the risk? Don’t miss the steamy Scrabble scene as you read to find out.

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46. Before I Do by Sophie Cousens

Release date: Oct. 11, 2022

One of the fall’s most-anticipated books, Sophie Cousens’s latest romance tackles an age-old question: How do you know if someone is “the one”? It’s the night before Audrey’s wedding. Her relationship with Josh has been solid and steady, but a tiny bit of her wonders if she might be settling. So when Fred, a one-time fling, appears at the rehearsal dinner, Audrey’s alarm bells sound at full volume. Should she go for stability or sparks? Is she about to make the biggest mistake of her life—or is this simply one last test of a love that’s meant to last forever?

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47. No Plan B by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Release date: Oct. 25, 2022

Jack Reacher is back! The 27th book of the highly acclaimed thriller series opens with Reacher discovering a purported suicide that he suspects is a murder. As with all books in this series, the plot thickens with additions of global conspiracies, complicated intrigue and supervillains reminiscent of James Bond. If you’re only familiar with the Jack Reacher played on screen by Tom Cruise, this book offers a great starting point for studying the whole series.

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48. Racing the Light by Robert Crais

Release date: Nov. 1, 2022

Fancy a romp through crime noir? Then add Racing the Light to your preorder list. This devilishly delightful story follows private eyes Elvis Cole and Joe Pike into the underworld of Los Angeles, where porn stars, secret agents and shady politicians punctuate their path to solving the case of a missing man. True crime connoisseurs and comedy buffs alike will want to snag a copy of this rollicking page-turner.

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49. The Circus Train by Amita Parikh

Release date: Dec. 6, 2022

“Magic, love, destiny and illusion combine with the glitter of 20th-century circus life and the heartbreak of war,” writes Kristen Harmel, author of The Book of Lost Names. In Amita Parikh’s The Circus Train, mid-20th-century Europe serves as the backdrop for a traveling circus aboard an elite luxury train. As the tragedy of the Holocaust unfolds around the train, disabled illusionist Lena Papadopoulos must dig deep to find her true calling, discover the magic of the real world and learn that love prevails over all. Next, check out these book recommendations based on fan favorite TV shows.

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Originally Published: March 07, 2022

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Killexams : 35 Best Christmas Books to Read Around the Holidays Killexams : 35 Best Christmas Books to Read Right Now [2022]

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Festive page-turners

One of the most fun Christmas activities we can think of is getting comfy by the fire with a great read. You can read anything you want, of course, but there are all sorts of holiday-themed Christmas books that’ll make your studying session extra cozy.

From time-treasured classics to ravishing romances to intriguing mysteries to Christmas books for kids, these are the reads that’ll keep you turning the pages all December long. Of course, books are only part of the holiday fun; celebrate the Christmas season with the best Christmas songs and best Christmas movies too.

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women is a coming-of-age classic that takes place around Christmas, making it a perfect tale to read each year. Follow along as sisters Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy try to carve their own paths in life while keeping their familial bonds strong. Little Women is also a book that was made into a movie (a couple times, actually!), so feel free to stream the 1994 or 2019 film adaptions after studying this timeless novel.

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Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

That’s right, J.R.R. Tolkien, the famed English author who gave us brilliant fantasy books like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, also gave us one of the best Christmas books to get lost in. Tolkien fans will love Letters from Father Christmas, which features holiday letters the beloved author wrote for his children. Entrench yourself in Tolkien’s North Pole, where Father Christmas knows best and reindeer and polar bears cause merry mischief.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a classic for a reason! It’s spawned countless adaptations, but Dickens’ original 1843 book about Ebenezer Scrooge, his four ghostly encounters and his resulting new lease on life deserves a prominent place on any list of best Christmas books—and one of the best short books to read in general.

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A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

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A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Technically a short story, Capote’s slice-of-life Christmas tale takes place in the 1930s and was originally published in 1956. Based on his own life, A Christmas Memory chronicles a young boy’s relationship with his family focused on his childhood Christmases. For a lively activity after your studying session, play one of these Christmas games.

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The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The 1905 story The Gift of the Magi is a classic tale with a poignant ironic twist. Jim and Della, a young, newly married couple without much money, each tries to figure out what to get the other for Christmas. They make sacrifices to be able to afford their gifts—and learn powerful lessons about love and true gifts beyond material things. Sounds like it could be the plot of a romantic Christmas movie!

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The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern

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The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern

Before It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the best Christmas movies of all time, there was The Greatest Gift. This story, originally published in 1943, sets up the premise that would become the hit film. If you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll love studying the source material.

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Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

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Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

Mr. Dickens and His Carol is another Christmas book to flip through while snuggled up on the couch. This historical fiction novel, published in 2017 but written in Dickensian, Victorian style, imagines Charles Dickens’ life as a struggling writer coming up with the idea for A Christmas Carol. You’ll be swept away by the old-timey Christmas feel, even though it’s a modern book. If your partner loves to read, this could be a great gift for your boyfriend or girlfriend.

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Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

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Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Here’s another Christmas book that became a film—this one is a favorite funny Christmas movie! If you’re familiar with Christmas with the Kranks, this book provided the inspiration for the raucous holiday tale. After their grown daughter leaves for the Peace Corps, Luther and Nora Krank decide to eschew all the holiday hubbub this year in favor of a Caribbean cruise. But a surprise changes all their plans and hilarious hijinks ensue. Skipping Christmas hit shelves in 2001.

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Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

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Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

In 2019’s Royal Holiday, Vivian joins her daughter on a Christmastime work trip to England—and finds herself falling for the Queen’s handsome secretary. Despite both of them knowing she has to return to the States, abandoning their romance is going to be easier said than done. Get your hands on this romance novel and read it by the light of your Christmas tree.

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Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

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Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Brilliant humorist Sedaris will grace your holiday bookshelf with his 1997 Christmas collection Holidays on Ice. He offers hilarious perspectives on school Christmas pageants, working in a department store during the holidays, overly generous neighbors and more themes of the season.

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Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

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Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Here’s another Christmas book for historical fiction buffs. Spanning the four Christmases of World War I and jumping forward to 1968 as well, Last Christmas in Paris tells the story of Evie and Thomas experiencing the tumult of the war—and their growing love for each other—against the backdrop of the holidays. It was released in 2017, making it a more latest addition to the Christmas book scene.

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The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

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The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

A kid wants nothing more than a new bike, but instead for Christmas he gets a sweater. Sounds simple, right? In this 2008 tale, the now-grown Eddie ponders the lessons he learned as a child from that Christmas and wonders if he’d choose to go back and change it given the opportunity. Read The Christmas Sweater for some serious Christmas reflection.

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My What If Christmas Wish by Daria White

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My What If Christmas Wish by Daria White

My What If Christmas Wish centers around Patrice, a psychologist who’s great at helping others with their problems, sometimes at the expense of her own happiness. When her college boyfriend comes back into her life around the holidays, she ponders the directions her life could’ve taken—and could still take—in this 2013 romantic Christmas tale. Read it after browsing through Christmas tree ideas to try this year.

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The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

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The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

Thought-provoking fiction master Backman is back (sorry, we had to) in The Deal of a Lifetime, a 2017 Christmastime tale. On Christmas Eve, a father tells his estranged son a stirring story about his conflict over helping another child who desperately needs it when his relationship with his own son is so strained.

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One Day in December by Josie Silver

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One Day in December by Josie Silver

A fun situational romantic tale ensues in this 2018 bestseller. In One Day in December, Laurie locks eyes with a stranger on a street and feels an instant spark. But it’s too much to hope she’ll see him again, right? Wrong. She sees him at a Christmas party…dating her best friend. You’ll have to pick this one up to see what happens!

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Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher 

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Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher 

More a Christmas poem by one of the greats, Amazing Peace is a powerful work that invites all readers and listeners to consider the hope and spirit of Christmas. Maya Angelou read this work at the 2005 lighting of the White House Christmas tree.

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The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

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The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Nope, this isn’t the Christmas movie on Disney Plus—but the title’s just too good! In 2020’s The Twelve Dates of Christmas, Kate is well into her 30s and insists she’s not interested in romance. But then her friend convinces her to join a dating service where she’ll go on 12 dates in the month before Christmas. Bring on the hilarity and heartthrobs!

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The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes himself takes on a Christmastime mystery in 1892’s The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. When a rare blue jewel turns up inside a Christmas goose, Holmes and Watson work together to find out who’s responsible.

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A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

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A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

You’ve seen the movie (possibly a gajillion-plus times.) Now read the collection of semi-autographical stories that Shepherd used as the basis for the film. Compiled and released in 2003 after his death, Shepherd’s tales in A Christmas Story make a delightful, vignette-style fireside read.

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The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

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The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

In The 13th Gift, a latest widow and her kids are still grieving as Christmas approaches when anonymous gifts start to appear on their doorstep: one a day, representing the 12 days of Christmas. They try to figure out who sent them in this true tale of Christmas kindness, released in 2014. Grab the tissues—you may tear up!

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The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin

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The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin

The Wish Book is sure to become a holiday favorite. Shortly after World War II, two friends are looking forward to raising their young sons in peacetime. But when the Sears Christmas Wish Book comes out, both boys are glued to it, leaving the mothers to find ways to teach them that the holidays are about more than getting presents. They put their heads together to find good deeds for their sons to do—and learn a thing or two themselves in the process in a historical tale that’s just as relevant today.

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Christmas at Holly Berry Inn by Emily C. Childs

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Christmas at Holly Berry Inn by Emily C. Childs

This 2020 romance begins with what sounds like a holiday nightmare. In Christmas at Holly Berry Inn, pesky (or fateful?) snowy weather forces Sloan to stay at an old inn—where the innkeeper is her ex. But as the evening goes on, old feelings resurface and Sloan has to decide what she really wants with her life.

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Originally Published: December 21, 2021

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Mon, 10 Oct 2022 12:01:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.rd.com/list/christmas-books/ Killexams : Book Review

As a student, Anand Giridharadas asked V.S. Naipaul to dinner on a lark — and, when Naipaul accepted, carried him up three flights of stairs to his apartment. “It was strange and beautiful,” says Giridharadas, whose new book is “The Persuaders,” “to carry the man who had taught me to write.”

Sat, 15 Oct 2022 21:21:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.nytimes.com/section/books/review
Killexams : Book Income

What Is Book Income?

The term “book income” generally means a company’s financial income before its taxes are taken into account. Determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), it is the amount a corporation reports on its financial statements for its investors or shareholders, as well as for financial regulators.

Sometimes the term is used to refer to a company’s net income reduced by taxes; it may be described more specifically as pre-tax or after-tax book income.

Key Takeaways

  • Book income refers to the pre-tax income of an organization determined in accordance with (GAAP).
  • Book income reflects an organization’s financial performance over a specific period of time.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires public companies to report book income in compliance with GAAP.
  • The purpose, rules, and calculation of a company’s book income and taxable income differ, resulting in amounts that can vary significantly.
  • Because of their different purposes, companies generally try to maximize book income and minimize taxable income.
  • The Biden Administration has proposed imposing a minimum tax on based on the book income of large corporations to prevent tax avoidance. 

Understanding Book Income

The calculation of book income is based on GAAP financial accounting and reporting standards set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires public companies to adhere to these standards. Financial statement book income indicates a company’s financial performance over a specific period of time. Financial executives seeking to portray a company favorably strive to maximize publicly reported book income.

Because book income is determined in accordance with widely-used, standard accounting rules that take into account all income and expenses, other than tax liabilities, it facilitates a comparison of the performance of similar companies over the same time period. The use of GAAP accounting by state and local governments, public companies, many private companies and nonprofits, provides citizens and officials, shareholders and lenders, donors and grant-makers, with a readily understandable presentation of book income as well as other financial accounting measures.

Book Income vs. Taxable Income

Questions often arise about how book income differs from taxable income. The two are established and interpreted by different authorities, serve different purposes, and differ in amount. Because of these differences, a company’s book and taxable income may vary significantly. Neither fully reveals a company’s underlying economic capacity and health. Both book income and taxable income provide a snapshot of a company’s performance for only a specified, limited period of time. As a result, book income can include the results of one-time, isolated events without distinguishing them from the revenue and expenses of regular business operations.

Taxable income reflects another variable: Even if a company performs consistently over time, its taxable income can vary greatly from year to year because of changes in the tax law. Taxable income is the amount reported on a company’s tax return. It is the basis for a company’s tax liability to the government and generally is determined for a 12-month period. The calculation of taxable income is determined by laws and regulations that reflect a mix of economic concepts, public policy goals, and political interests.  

Companies seek to minimize taxable income in order to limit their tax liabilities. Tax rules are set, and taxpayer compliance with them is enforced, by governmental authorities. In the United States, federal taxable income is defined by the Internal Revenue Code and administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). States that impose income taxes define taxable income under their own tax laws, which often incorporate federal tax concepts and standards, and enforce the state law through their own tax agencies and commissions.

Special Considerations: Biden's Proposed Minimum Corporate Tax on Book Income

The Biden Administration has proposed using book income as the basis for a corporate minimum tax. In response to concerns about a substantial number of highly profitable, large corporations paying little or no U.S. corporate tax, the Biden Administration supports the enactment of a 15% minimum tax that would be calculated on the basis of large corporations’ book income. Corporations with a significant disparity between their book and taxable income would be required to make an additional payment to the IRS for the excess of up to 15% of their book income over their regular tax liability.

In addition, on October 8, 2021, the Biden Administration joined 135 other countries in an agreement that includes a 15% global corporate minimum tax starting in 2023. Implementation of President Biden's domestic minimum tax based on book income and the OECD tax changes would require coordination of their technical rules and revision or repeal of some present provisions of U.S. law that tax foreign income of U.S. corporations. Because both the Biden and OECD proposals require Congressional action before they can become effective, their adoption is not certain.

Are All Companies Required to Determine Book Income in Accordance With GAAP?

The SEC requires public companies to prepare their financial statements—including their determination of book income—in accordance with GAAP. Although generally not legally obligated, many private companies follow GAAP rules to facilitate borrowing, to attract investors, and to prepare for going public. Governments and many nonprofits adopt GAAP to demonstrate transparency and to provide a readily understandable picture of their financial health to officials, constituents, and donors.

Which Types of Income and Expenses Are Treated Differently in Calculating Book Income and Taxable Income?

Book income is determined using accrual accounting. However, taxable income may be determined using accrual, cash-basis, or a hybrid method, provided the method is used consistently and accurately reflects income.

The book and tax treatment of specific items of income and expense also differ; some differences are permanent, while others relate to timing. For example, each system may depreciate assets over a different number of years. Some costs may be deductible in calculating book income while they may be allowed as credits or deductions for tax purposes. All meals and entertainment expenses are deductible in arriving at book income, but tax rules allow a deduction for only 50% of business meals and no deduction at all for business entertainment.

Tax-exempt interest is excluded from taxable income but is included in book income. Fines and penalties reduce book income but are not deductible under tax rules. Some tax treatments are elective, but financial accounting rules that determine book income are standard.

How Does the Minimum Tax Proposed by the Biden Administration Relate to the Regular Corporate Income Tax?

The Biden proposal applies only to very large corporations, but all corporations must comply with the corporate tax. The minimum tax rate of 15% would apply to book income, but the regular corporate income tax is based on taxable income.

Assume that a company that is subject to the minimum corporate tax has a regular corporate tax liability that is less than 15% of its book income. The company's tax liability will be increased by the difference between the lower corporate tax amount and the amount equal to 15% of book income, so that the tax owed is equal to 15% of its book income. If a company's regular corporate income tax liability exceeds 15% of its book income, the company will owe the regular corporate income tax amount.

Fri, 29 Oct 2021 03:56:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.investopedia.com/book-income-5207852 Killexams : The New York Times Books No result found, try new keyword!Here are two excerpts from his new book. In “Demon Copperhead,” Barbara Kingsolver reimagines “David Copperfield” as a tale set in Southern Appalachia, and brings humanity and humor to a ... Sat, 15 Oct 2022 21:16:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.nytimes.com/section/books Killexams : Mountains of the damned BOOK REVIEW

John Irving has said “The Last Chairlift” will be his last long novel. If so, readers will get their money’s worth. The book is a 912-page sprawl, full of sex, family friction, skiing, wrestling, and even ghosts, who traipse in and out of the action as if to check on how everything is going.

Fri, 14 Aug 2020 23:06:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/
Killexams : The Banned Books You Haven’t Heard About

At a packed school-board meeting near Rockford, Illinois, earlier this year, a woman waved blown-up images from Maia Kobabe’s illustrated memoir Gender Queer in front of the Harlem School District board. “If my neighbor were to supply this to my child, guess what? He would be in jail,” she said to scattered applause. She was among dozens of students, parents, and community members who’d shown up to weigh in on whether the district should ban eight titles, including Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. “I do not take the banning of books lightly …  but frankly, these particular books contain child-sexual-abuse material,” said one of the participants, echoing others who claimed that Gender Queer, which is about being nonbinary and asexual, amounted to “child abuse.”

Even though the room was evenly split, the board ultimately voted to ban Gender Queer and keep the other seven, adding even more notoriety to the most-challenged book of 2021. Gender Queer has become a national lightning rod for book banning in schools and libraries, which has reached the highest recorded level since 1990 when the American Library Association began tracking challenges. In 2021, the number of attempts to remove books jumped from 156 the previous year to 729; it’s on track to be even greater this year.

What is the fate of a book like Kobabe’s after it is debated and banned? It might seem, on the face of it, desirable: One children’s-book author on tour in Virginia told me that she hoped her book would be censored, citing widely reported accounts that bans drive sales. Many people share this assumption. Stories in the media have gleefully trotted out examples of how censorship efforts backfire and lead instead to enormous demand. It’s a narrative that mitigates fears about an American culture grown hostile to provocative books. It makes us feel a little better.

But this isn’t what actually happens when a book gets banned. At least, not most of the time.

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has a telling statistic: It estimates that a staggering 82 to 97 percent of book challenges go unreported on. That means these books, the overwhelming majority, don’t even make it beyond the school-board minutes and into the local paper. And, as it turns out, this question of how much attention a book gets—either because it’s already well known, like The Bluest Eye, or because the banning itself generates big news—is a crucial factor. It makes all the difference in whether censorship helps or hinders a book’s chances of landing in a reader’s hands.

Like many people, I was under the impression that bans tended to be good for business—after all, every bookstore in America seems to have a special display for these infamous books, including on Banned Books Week, which takes place this week. I knew from studying experimental literature that challenging, obscene, or subversive works are often the very ones that end up being canonized; as a bookseller and literary critic, I understood the power of controversy in the attention economy. But when I started digging deeper, I found the notion that bans alone drive sales to be misguided, based on data analysis and more than a dozen interviews with publishers, booksellers, authors, First Amendment watchdogs, and industry experts.

Bans increase sales only when they are accompanied by a media blitz, as confirmed in a latest NPD BookScan report. In the two weeks leading up to the Harlem County school-board meeting, Gender Queer experienced its largest volume of sales, after The New York Times profiled the book and its author, according to NPD BookScan. Just as a glowing review from the Times can boost sales, so too can an intriguing profile of the most-banned book of the year. Another latest example is Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Maus, which saw a 753 percent increase in sales and even sold out on Amazon after its banning by a Tennessee school board was widely reported on.

More typical, though, is what happened to the author Trung Le Nguyen. His young-adult graphic novel, The Magic Fish, was on a list compiled by a Texas state representative last year of books that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.” The campaign successfully removed 414 titles from a school district in Texas, including The Magic Fish. There was little recourse for Nguyen and seemingly nothing his publisher could do. He never got the media attention that accrued to Maus, so he was left with the more common realization that now fewer kids would be able to find his work. “It’s just kind of an unfortunate reality where my book’s longevity on bookshelves and exposure to audiences in publicly accessible spaces would be severely diminished,” he told me. “It feels terrible.”

The Magic Fish is an immigrant coming-out story—a combination of themes that make it a prime target in this latest wave of bans. The banning of YA books can seriously harm their sales because these books, more than adult titles, depend on circulation in schools and libraries. Without institutions like these buying the books en masse, Nguyen said, authors can have trouble securing another book deal, because “the likelihood that you’ll make back your advance is diminished quite a lot.” Nguyen also pointed out that debut authors who aren’t firmly established, as well as marginalized authors who write about their own identity, are particularly vulnerable to these consequences.

“For every challenge that hits the headlines, there’s probably five to eight challenges behind it that don’t,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Given the decline of local news over the past two decades and the fact that book sections have long been among the first to be eliminated when newspaper budgets are slashed, the percentage of unreported book challenges may worsen. Although niche outlets such as Book Riot and First Amendment advocates such as PEN America have closely tracked book bans, most titles do not make headlines, nationally or locally, and instead languish in the dark.

“Not every book is an award-winning book like Maus,” said Jeff Trexler, the interim director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which protects the First Amendment rights of comics creators. “There are other books where this happens—their sales don’t go up, their sales evaporate, or the author all of a sudden becomes radioactive.”

Unlike with sales spikes, quantifying how bans harm book sales is difficult—but we can gain a clearer picture by looking at how the publishing industry relies on bulk purchases by schools and libraries, exactly the slice of the market that has become a battleground for a larger culture war.

According to a 2022 report by PEN America, YA titles account for 47 percent of the books challenged, followed by picture books at 18 percent. And this educational marketplace is especially important for YA authors like Nguyen, many of whom get a significant share of their sales from wholesale deals and write for grade-school audiences who don’t typically have spending power. “When a book is endorsed by schools and libraries, that becomes a kind of livelihood that could sustain an author’s career,” said Margaret Stohl, a New York Times best-selling author whose chapter book Cats vs. Robots was recently banned by a Missouri school district for having a nonbinary character.

And schools and libraries aren't just making onetime bulk purchases. As Skip Dye, the senior vice president of library sales and digital strategy for Penguin Random House, put it, “You’re buying thousands of books a year on an ongoing basis to replace those books that have been damaged.”

Although book bans have always been political to an extent, national organizations’ current level of involvement in censorship campaigns is new. Typically, books are challenged by local community members; however, 41 percent of the bans tracked by PEN America from July 2021 to March 2022 were “tied to directives from state officials or elected lawmakers to investigate or remove books in schools.” In addition, reporting by The Guardian and Salon has shown connections between wealthy donors and advocacy groups such as Moms for Liberty and No Left Turn in Education, which are spearheading ban efforts in some states and providing a playbook for others.

The repercussions of these proliferating banning efforts are being felt by authors whose names we may never hear, but who are feeling the impact in a profoundly personal way. The YA author Laurie Halse Anderson told me that it was like a gut punch when her first novel, Speak, which is partially based on her own sexual assault at age 13, was challenged in 2000 shortly after being named a finalist for the National Book Award. “I was so horrified that somebody would think I would write something that would be harmful for kids,” she said.

The pain of being banned often cuts deeper than worries about dips in sales or lost future book deals. As Margaret Stohl told me, it can feel like having your entire worldview rejected. The nonbinary character in her book was inspired by her own child, and in her eyes, the censorship amounted to a sort of erasure: “They were not banning a book—they were banning an identity.”

Mon, 26 Sep 2022 05:10:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.theatlantic.com/books/archive/2022/09/banned-books-increased-sales/671479/
Killexams : About Books with Jim Milliot

Publishers Weekly editorial director Jim Milliot talked about the upcoming publication of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol report and how the publishing industry treated other major congressional reports. About Books also reported on the latest publishing industry news, insider interviews, and current non-fiction books featured on C-SPAN’s BookTV for the week of October 2, 2022. close

Mon, 03 Oct 2022 09:34:00 -0500 en-us text/html https://www.c-span.org/video/?523204-1/books-jim-milliot
Killexams : The 'dangerous' books too powerful to read

Forty years on from the launch of Banned Books Week, censorship is once again on the rise. To launch a new BBC Culture series, John Self considers the long and ignoble global history of book-banning.

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The legend of the Sibylline Books tells us that in an ancient city, a woman offered to sell its citizens 12 books containing all the knowledge and wisdom in the world, for a high price. They refused, thought her request ridiculous, so she burned half of the books right then and there, and then offered to sell the remaining six for double the price. The citizens laughed at her, a little uneasily this time. She burned three, offering the remainder, but doubling the price again. Somewhat reluctantly – times were hard, their troubles seemed to be multiplying – they dismissed her once more. Finally, when there was only one book left, the citizens paid the extraordinary price the woman now asked, and she left them alone, to manage as best they could with one-twelfth of all the knowledge and wisdom in the world.

Books carry knowledge. They are pollinators of our minds, spreading self-replicating ideas through space and time. We forget what a miracle it is that marks on a page or screen can enable communication from one brain to another on the far side of the globe, or the other end of the century.

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Books are, as Stephen King put it, "a uniquely portable magic" – and the portable part is as important as the magic. A book can be taken away, kept hidden, your own private store of knowledge. (My son's personal diary has an ineffectual – but symbolically important – padlock.) The power of the words inside books is so great that it's long been custom for some words to be blanked out: such as swear words, as anyone encountering a "d—-d" in a 19th-Century novel will know; or words too dangerously powerful to be written down, like the name of God in some religious texts.

Books carry knowledge, and knowledge is power, which makes books a threat to authorities – governments and self-appointed leaders alike – who want to have a monopoly on knowledge and to control what their citizens think. And the most efficient way to exert this power over books is to ban them.

Banning books has a long and ignoble history, but it is not dead: it remains a thriving industry. This week is the 40th anniversary of Banned Books Week, an annual event "celebrating the freedom to read." Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a rise in challenges to books in schools, libraries and bookstores.

In some ways we have to admire the energy and vigilance of those who want to ban books today: it used to be so much easier than this. Centuries ago, when most of the population could not read and books were not readily available, their knowledge could be constrained at source.  For example, the Catholic Church for a long time discouraged people from possessing their own copies of the Bible, and approved only a Latin translation that few ordinary people could read anyway. Ostensibly this was to prevent the laity from misinterpreting the word of God, but it also ensured they could not challenge the authority of church leaders.

Ulysses by James Joyce – which turns 100 this year – was banned in Britain from 1922 until 1936 (Credit: Getty Images)

Ulysses by James Joyce – which turns 100 this year – was banned in Britain from 1922 until 1936 (Credit: Getty Images)

Even when literacy rates improved, as when Britain introduced education laws in the late 19th Century, books remained expensive, particularly those high-end literary works whose words and ideas were the most durable (and potentially the most dangerous). Only in the 1930s, with Albatross Books and Penguin Books, did the new mass audience for quality affordable books have its appetites satisfied.

And simultaneously, book banning was about to take on a new life, as would-be censors tried desperately to keep up with a proliferation of new titles that opened readers to new and disruptive ideas. But what was surprising about the expansion of book banning in the 20th Century is how widespread the lust was for this "protection" racket.

'Corrupting minds'

Today, the government of China, for example, continues to issue edicts against books in schools that are "not in line with the [country’s] socialist core values; that have deviant world views, life views and values" – classically flexible words that can be applied to any book the authorities disapprove of for any reason. (Although "the students don't really look at them anyway," observed one teacher in 2020, clearing the school library shelves of Animal Farms and Nineteen Eighty Fours.)

In Russia, the approach to book banning has been a remarkably public adventure, given the number of great writers the country has exported – willingly or not – to the rest of the world. During the Soviet era, the government tried to exert as much control over its citizens' studying habits as it did over the rest of their lives.

In 1958, Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel Doctor Zhivago, which had been published in Italy the previous year, but not at home. His award angered the Soviet authorities so much (the state-controlled media called it an "artistically squalid, malicious work") that he was forced to turn down the award. The government despised the book as much for what it did not contain – it failed to celebrate the Russian revolution – as what it did: it contained religious overtones and celebrated the worth of the individual. (The CIA, seeing the "great propaganda value" of Doctor Zhivago, arranged for it to be printed in Russia.)

Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak was despised by the Soviet government: the state-controlled media called it an "artistically squalid, malicious work" (Credit: Alamy)

Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak was despised by the Soviet government: the state-controlled media called it an "artistically squalid, malicious work" (Credit: Alamy)

The banning of books in the Soviet Union led to the development of samizdat – or self-published – writing, to which we owe the continued existence of, for example, the poetry of Osip Mandelstam. Dissident writer Vladimir Bukovsky summed up samizdat: "I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself."

But those in the West flatter themselves if they think that it doesn't happen there. When books are banned, or attempts are made to ban, the argument is the same there as elsewhere: that it is to protect ordinary people, who are seemingly too feeble-minded to judge for themselves, from exposure to corrupting ideas.

In Britain, book banning has often been a tool against perceived sexual obscenity. It is, typically, an attempt to use the blunt force of the law to arrest social change: a tactic that always fails, but which is irresistible to short-termist authorities nonetheless.

Many writers have had their reputations burnished by their brushes with Britain's obscenity laws. James Joyce was perceptive when he said, while writing Ulysses, that "police notwithstanding, I should like to put everything into my novel" – the book was banned in Britain from 1922 until 1936, even though the legal officer responsible for the ban had read only 42 of the book's 732 pages. The "everything" that Joyce put into Ulysses included masturbation, swearing, sex and going to the toilet.

In Britain, book banning has often been a tool against perceived sexual obscenity – such as the famous trial about DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (Credit: Getty Images)

In Britain, book banning has often been a tool against perceived sexual obscenity – such as the famous trial about DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (Credit: Getty Images)

DH Lawrence was a special case: his work, often containing sexual acts that Lawrence regarded with a spiritual reverence, had been the subject of a campaign by Britain's Director of Public Prosecutions for years: burning his book The Rainbow, intercepting his post to seize his poems Pansies, and raiding an exhibition of his art.

The vendetta continued beyond the grave when Penguin books published Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960 and invited prosecution. The trial is famous: the publisher recruited dozens of writers and academics to attest to the book's literary qualities (though Enid Blyton turned them down), and the judge exemplified the state's distrust of ordinary readers when he cautioned the jury against relying on literary experts: "Is that how the girls working in the factory are going to read this book?"

(The coda to the case, in which the jury found unanimously in favour of Penguin, is a delicious irony. Three years ago, and six decades after it tried to ban the book, the British government prevented the judge's copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover from being sold overseas, so that "a buyer can be found to keep this important part of our nation's history in the UK".)

Keeping ideas alive

Meanwhile, in the US, it's a tribute of sorts to the enduring power of books that banning them remains so popular in a world where each new wave of technology, from TV to gaming and social media, attracts fears of "inappropriate" content. Schools are a particular hotbed of attempted censorship, partly because directing a child's malleable mind seems like an efficient way to cut off perceived dangers; but also because (unlike bookshops) school boards have some degree of community input.

In 1982, the year that Banned Books Week was launched, a case of attempted school censorship (Island Trees School District) reached the US Supreme Court. Here, the school board argued that "it is our moral duty to protect the children in our schools from this moral danger as surely as from physical and medical dangers." The danger they referred to were books that were "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy." (The charge of antisemitism was laid against the Jewish novelist Bernard Malamud's great novel The Fixer.) The court concluded however, in alignment with the First Amendment, that "local school boards may not remove books from school libraries simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books."

That has not stopped them. Foremost among the hot courses for challenges and bans on books in US schools and libraries is sex. "America seems to be very exercised about sex," as James LaRue, then director of the American Libraries Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, put it in 2017.

Sex has traditionally meant obscenity, which led to US judge Potter Stewart's famous attempt to pin down the definition of "hardcore pornography" in a court case in 1964: "I know it when I see it." But today "sex" in book bans is more likely to mean sexuality and gender identity: the three most challenged books of 2021 in the US were objected to because of their LGBTQI+ content. This brings into question the idea that book bans are done to protect young people rather than as an attempted ideological purge, and shows a lack of imagination by censors, holding that the depiction (for example, of transgender people) causes the phenomenon rather than the reverse. This is connected to the belief that things we dislike can be safely ignored as long as we don't see them on the page: a regular top 10 member of the Banned Books list is Toni Morrison's modern classic The Bluest Eye, for its depiction of child sexual abuse.

A regular on the most challenged books lists is the modern classic The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Credit: Getty Images)

A regular on the most challenged books lists is the modern classic The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Credit: Getty Images)

But then book censorship in the US has a long history. Its most famous early victim was Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. In 1857, a black Ohio man, Sam Green, was "tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in the penitentiary" for "having in his possession Uncle Tom's Cabin." It is a twist of history that the book is now more often criticised from the progressive end of the political spectrum, for its stereotypical portrayal of black characters.

The more prominent a book, the more likely it is to attract the attention of censors. JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has been challenged regularly – a teacher was sacked for teaching it in 1960, and the book was removed from schools in Wyoming, North Dakota and California in the 1980s. The argument for banning Salinger's novel is typically for profanity and vulgar language, even though its opening line today – with "all that David Copperfield kind of crap" – seems quaint.

An ultra-rare signed Catcher in the Rye was on display at the Saatchi Gallery's Banned Books fair this month (Credit: Clare Hughes Photography)

An ultra-rare signed Catcher in the Rye was on display at the Saatchi Gallery's Banned Books fair this month (Credit: Clare Hughes Photography)

Book banning is a broad church, bringing together books that are not normally bedfellows. It encompasses everything from popular fiction (Peter Benchley, Sidney Sheldon, Jodi Picoult) to established classics (Kurt Vonnegut, Harper Lee, Kate Chopin). It has more targets than an archery contest, from occult worship (the Harry Potter series) to atheism (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time).

There is hope, of course. The publicity from Banned Books Week keeps these books and the issue of censorship in the public eye. And there is the Streisand Effect – trying to ban books makes people more aware of them. In the US, some Barnes and Noble stores have tables of banned books, and its website has a separate category for them. In the UK, a rare book fair at the Saatchi Gallery this month displayed and sold scarce editions of banned books, from an ultra-rare signed Catcher in the Rye (£225,000 / $264,000) to Copernicus's On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, which outraged the Church in 1543 by suggesting that the Earth was not at the centre of the solar system (£2m).

But eternal vigilance, not just by the American Libraries Association but by all readers everywhere, is the price of keeping our ideas alive. As the story of the Sibylline Books tells us, books can burn, their knowledge can be lost, and nothing is forever.

Banned Books Week runs from 18 to 24 September.

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Thu, 29 Sep 2022 00:09:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20220921-the-dangerous-books-too-powerful-to-read
Killexams : If You Loved "The Luckiest Girl Alive," Add Jessica Knoll's Other Books to Your List

Buzzy, women-centric thrillers have been a major literary trend over these past few years, and one of the genre's latest breakout stars has been Jessica Knoll. After starting her career in the magazine industry, she's shifted to writing novels — and now they're getting major attention from big names and fans alike!

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Thu, 13 Oct 2022 10:02:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/jessica-knoll-books-48971932
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