Which book on the National Book Award long list should you read?


This year, for the first time, I decided to read a whole long list of awards. I chose the National Book Award long list for fiction, partly because two of my favorite books of the year were on it, and partly because all of the books seemed at least somewhat interesting to me. I enjoyed the process. I fell in love with a few books that I doubt I would have read otherwise. I also read books that just weren’t for me.

It can be fun to commit to a project like this, but the truth is that all awards lists are subjective and it’s unlikely that a single person will like every book on any given list. If, like me, you like the idea of ​​reading a whole list of rewards but are hesitant to embark on a reading project that may lead to mixed results, may I suggest this quiz instead?

I chose books from all the long lists of the National Book Awards: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translated literature and children’s literature. Answer a few questions about your reading preferences and (hopefully!) get a book from the list that you’ll really like! You don’t have to read every NBA book to have fun and hopefully discover a new favorite that you might not have picked up otherwise.

Quiz results

Nobody Gets Out Alive by Leigh Newman

Looks like you’re looking for a book that will transport you! In these beautiful, living stories, Newman explores the emotional lives of contemporary and historic women living in Alaska. The characters deal with harsh landscapes, complicated families, unfulfilled desires and the ghosts of their past.

cover image for Shutter

Shutter by Ramona Emerson

you should read Shutter, a gripping page-turner that’s part thriller, part haunting supernatural ghost story, and part moving coming-of-age story set on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. It stars Rita Todacheene, a forensic photographer who sees the ghosts of former victims and uses their clues to help her solve crimes.

Cover of It Could Be Different

This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

You’re looking for something that will break your heart and put it back together, something emotionally vulnerable and bitingly real. It could all be different is the book for you! It follows Sneha, a queer Indian girl fresh out of college, trying to live, love, survive, and maybe even thrive in advanced Midwestern capitalism.

book cover of The Man Who Could Move the Clouds

The Man Who Could Move the Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

You don’t let the genre limit you, and neither does Ingrid Rojas Contreras! This beautiful memoir reads like a novel, even if it is not. Contreras blends Colombian history with his own family history and stories in a riveting tale about the magic that runs through his family, memory loss, lineage, and more.

Uncommon Measurement Coverage

Uncommon measurement by Natalie Hodges

You are looking for something interesting, stimulating and fresh, and maybe also under-the-radar! In Uncommon measure, Korean American violinist and writer Natalie Hodges explores time, consciousness, music and philosophy. She draws on her own experience as a musician, including her struggles with performance, as well as research in quantum physics and neuroscience.

Cover of Mummy Eaters

Mummy Eaters by Sherry Shenoda

This unique collection of poetry is told from the perspective of the author’s imaginary ancestor, an ancient Egyptian woman on her journey through mummification and into the afterlife. Shenoda uses this character to interrogate modern ideas about death and dying, ancient mythology, the legacy of colonialism, and more.

cover of the Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk

The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft

You’re ready for anything and you’re not afraid of big books – and that’s a good thing, because at nearly 1,000 pages, Jacob’s Books is not for the faint of heart. This sprawling opus is often considered the masterpiece of Nobel Prize-winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, and it’s now available in English. It is a vast epic about a powerful religious leader and the repercussions of his actions and beliefs on all of 18th century Europe.

Cover image of The Lesbiana Catholic school guide

The Catholic School Lesbian Guide by Sonora Reyes

Looking for a fun and engaging book – who isn’t? This heartwarming YA novel is about two queer Mexican American siblings who navigate their way through Catholic school, dealing with complicated family dynamics, coming out, first love, racism, mental health, etc It’s thoughtful, funny and full of joy, even if it doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult topics.

Interested in digging deeper into the National Book Award longlists? Read about all books! And if you enjoyed taking this quiz on awards in general, check out our coverage of the 2022 Booker Prize and the 2022 Hugo Awards.


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