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ALA Book Awards (2022): Notable Books for Adults

About the Award

Since 1944, the goal of the Notable Books Council has been to make available to the nation’s readers a list of 25 very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader. Please visit for the most current lists and information.

Award Winning Titles


Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So (Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins) A rich collection of unique, vivid, and expertly written characters from the Cambodian diaspora in America.Book cover: Afterparties

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Schribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.) A celebration of the power of the written word echoing through time, space, and lived experiences.

Gordo by Jaime Cortez (Black Cat, an imprint of Grove Atlantic) Linked stories told by a fat, queer kid in a 1970s migrant workers’ camp open doors to a world of heartache and humor.

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott (Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC) Metafictional musing on racial justice, fear, and grief in America relayed through a humorous cross-country publicity tour.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (A Borzoi book published by Alfred A. Knopf) The lives of a family in the near future are examined through the eyes of an artificial friend.

Matrix by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC) The transportive story of a woman cast out by medieval society claiming leadership inside the walls of a convent.

Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) In this captivating, heady, warm translation, a decorative artist in Brussels develops her creative identity through trompe l’oeil.

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade (W. W. Norton & Company) Five generations of a New Mexico family grapple with many questions, including “what is redemption?”

Book cover: Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBoisThe Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) The recovered history of one woman’s family exposes a legacy of stolen land, abuse, and personal ties in the American South.

The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine (Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic) Daily life and mortality in a refugee camp in Lesbos prompts a trans woman physician to revisit memories of her childhood in Lebanon.

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut (New York Review Books published by The New York Review of Books) A feverish exploration of the moral consequences of scientific discovery, told through an inventive blend of fact and fiction.


A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC) From Josephine Baker to Beyonce, this vibrant fusion of essays, memoir, and poetry is a deeply personal dive into Black artists’ vital contribution to modern culture.

A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul (W.W. Norton & Company) Despite the increasing dangers that flocks encounter during their arduous journeys, their innate adaptability and conservation interventions offer hope for survival.

Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space by Stephen Walker (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) New research recreates the drama of the race into orbit between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South by Winfred Rembert as told to Erin I. Kelly (Bloomsbury Publishing) In words and painted leatherwork, a Black man shares his story of trauma, survival, and claiming agency through creative expression.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House LLC) An investigation of the mega-rich family behind Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin, and their denial of responsibility for the opioid epidemic.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 Edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain (OneBook Cover: 400 souls World, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC) Ninety different Black authors lift their voices in this expansive anthology, using a variety of forms to speak to centuries of heritage.

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.) With thoughtfulness and nuance, a poet interrogates places tied to the transatlantic slave trade and calls upon us to engage with our shared responsibility for the past.

Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey by James Rebanks (Custom House, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) An elegy for what has been lost from the English agricultural landscape, and what can be regained, through the lens of one family’s experience.

People Love Dead Jews: Reports From a Haunted Present by Dara Horn (W.W. Norton & Company) Blistering fury and intense love create fireworks in this collection of provocative essays that challenge the way the world sees Jewish people.

Book cover: Poet WarriorPoet Warrior by Joy Harjo (W.W. Norton & Company) In a generous act of verse and prose, an author offers a spiritually layered and fearless memoir of her Muscogee (Creek) heritage, family, and grief.

The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town by Brian Alexander (St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group) One community medical center serves as a microcosm for national problems, fighting to prioritize patient care in a corporate landscape.

Getting it through the Libraries

As a reminder: if Miami's copy of a book is checked out, Miami affiliated students, faculty and staff may request another copy through OhioLINK or SearchOhio.



Additional Information