With the new year, many people are setting well-intentioned resolutions and promises to read more — to find the time, turn off the TV, put away the phone and dive into a good book.
So we asked GBH’s Morning Edition listeners: If you could recommend one book to start the year off right, what would it be?
Listeners responded, on social media and by text, with a mix of fiction and nonfiction, classics and new releases. Here are some of their top picks.
Have your own recommendation? Email us at [email protected].
“The All Night Sun” by Diane Zinna
Judith P. said: “A work of literary fiction about a young teacher and her student, and a brilliant and heartbreaking story of grief and loss. Not to be missed!”
“Norwegian by Night” and “American by Day” by Derek B. Miller
“I found this to be an excellent portrait of aging, loneliness, being uprooted from a home that you’ve known forever, being afraid, being brave, and just a fabulously well-written book,” Deb said of “Norwegian by Night. ” The sequel, she said, “is even better, in my opinion … It gives the outlook on America by a Norwegian detective while she is investigating the disappearance of her brother. She works with a sheriff in Watertown, New York, and her observations on American ways are so spot on that you find yourself questioning them as well.”
Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel.
— Jason (@j2tiger) January 6, 2023
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich and Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. Both books are rich and wonderful. Keegan’s book is a perfect novella that will transport you to an unexpected place. pic.twitter.com/nfttdAD8ka
— Tim Lepczyk (@thirdcoast) January 6, 2023
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. One of the best novels I have ever read – about gaming, friendship, work, success, love. It’s complicated, rich, and exquisitely written while being a true page-turner.
— mazel tov cocktail party (@afertig) January 6, 2023
My favorite book ever, “Snow in August” by Pete Hamill. About a young boy growing up in NYC during WWII and is befriended by a Rabbi. The boy teaches him about baseball, the Rabbi teaches the boy Yiddish. And just enough mysticism to make it special.
— Dr. Laura A. De Veau 🐝🛤☮️ (@deveautrain) January 6, 2023
11/22/63 by @StephenKing
The mini series on hulu was meh, the book is a MASTERPIECE.
Truly the best book ive read in 10 years.
— Blake (@BearLovesKer) January 6, 2023
An old time favorite, “The Kite Runner”. It has all the qualities of a great story, friendship, love, betrayal, character development, history, the landscapes and it’s very well written. Added bonus of the history part with the story of a country and its struggle to find itself.
— Stan Parks (@StanMtnBike) January 6, 2023
Arundel by Kenneth Roberts. It’s a long, sprawling tale about a young soldier from Maine who joins an also-young Benedict Arnold in the doomed march on Quebec. Fascinating stuff and if you love the Kennebunkport area, it’s a must.
— Marc Hurwitz (@MarcHurBoston) January 6, 2023
In fiction loved Jonathan Franzen’s CROSSROADS. In non fiction I really liked this short book called STROLLER that is about, yep, baby strollers, but also about how status influences us, about motherhood, about differences between Americans and Europeans.
— Claudia Reilly (@ClaudiaReilly11) January 6, 2023
Midnight Library was my least favorite book I read last year. But I loved Daisy Jones and the Six.
— Brendear32 (@Brendear321) January 6, 2023
If you like really well written mysteries: Peter Swanson. His cliche free, twisty mysteries are set in Boston area w lots of fun call outs to familiar Boston things. He rocks!
— Julie (@Badgergrrrl) January 6, 2023
“Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted” by Suleika Jaouad
Taylor C. said: “It’s an incredibly powerful story about health and human connection, and inspired me to take my own solo road trip when I was seeking answers at a pivotal time in my life.”
If you like e-audiobooks (which you can get from the library!) I recently listened to two books that I had originally read 20 yrs ago and are fab to listen to: The Perfect Storm and even more riveting Into Thin Air.
— Julie (@Badgergrrrl) January 6, 2023
Mudlark: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames, by Lara Maiklem. Amazing insights into centuries of London history, seen through the myriad of objects that Maiklem and her fellow mudlarks find along its edges.
— Jennifer Weeks (@JenniferWeeks83) January 6, 2023
Everyone is sick of hearing me yell about this but AMERICAN SIRENS. It is so good because it’s an origin story for ALL of modern EMS but also within the context of systemic racism and correcting revisionist history. And beautifully written and structured.
— Bait Bag (@BaitBagTheBand) January 6, 2023
Bullshit Jobs – David Graeber will make you rethink everything and possibly hate your job if you don’t already.
— Tony Collins (@ajcollins104) January 6, 2023
Nancy D. said “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus was her favorite book of last year. She said it is “a great story with great characters about women trying to enter the world of men in the 1950s and ’60s. I am now reading ‘Horse’ by Geraldine Parks and am really enjoying it. My book group is reading ‘The Overstory by Powers’ — a very intriguing book with is basic premise that we are all underestimating the importance of trees — and just finished Bill McKibben’s ‘The Flag, The Cross, and the Station Wagon’ — about growing up in Lexington and how life in the US has changed over his lifetime.”
For fiction, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s science fiction dystopia with some beautiful observations about humanity. Not a huge sf girl & loved it!
For nonfiction, anything by Patrick Radden Keefe, especially Empire of Pain. He is a fantastic storyteller.
— maddy (@maddy_jin) January 6, 2023
Suggestions from our GBH staff and contributors
Other books I loved last year: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. 1952 classic but still sadly relevant 70 years later. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. A brilliant intertwining puzzle of a book bringing in children from different times and places, as the world grows hotter.
— Jenifer Mckim (@jbmckim) January 6, 2023
“If I survive you” by @J_Escoffery is an amazing work of fiction, and Jonathan has ties to Beantown (he used to work @GrubWriters). As for nonfiction, there’s this book about how hard it is to free the innocent…:)
— Daniel Medwed (@danielmedwed) January 6, 2023
I just finished “The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry” by @CMWaggoner2 — such a fun read, wonderful world-building, but also describes living through traumatic events in a way that really resonated with me. Also features an undead mouse named Buttons. Cute!
— Gal Tziperman Lotan (@tzigal) January 6, 2023