The 11 Books You Should Be Reading This December

Polar exploration, undersea creatures and a Paul McCartney biography

December 6, 2022 6:43 am
December 2022 Books
Fiction, science and biography converge in our December book recommendations.
Simon & Schuster/Twelve/Dey Streeet

As months go, December often brings one of the most wide-ranging arrays of books imaginable. This year is no exception; among the most intriguing books scheduled for release are the first volume of a biography of Paul McCartney and a mystery novel set amidst struggling indie bands in 1990s New York CIty. For those looking to expand your stores of knowledge, December also brings with it new books on underappreciated animals and gripping moments in history. Perhaps you’ll find something in here to read beside the fire — or an ideal gift for the holidays.

How Far the Light Reaches- A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler
“How Far the Light Reaches” by Sabrina Imbler
Little Brown and Company

Sabrina Imbler, How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures (Dec. 6)

Read enough about aquatic life and you’ll soon become convinced of something: aquatic life is like nothing else on the planet. In their new book, science journalist Sabrina Imbler chronicles some of the most unique forms of life to be found in the ocean’s depths, from the child-rearing habits of octopi to the evocatively-named (and utterly terrifying) Bobbit worm. 

Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
“Stella Maris” by Cormac McCarthy
Knopf Publishing Group

Cormac McCarthy, Stella Maris (Dec. 6)

For avid readers of Cormac McCarthy, 2022 has been a banner year, bringing two new novels from one of the country’s most iconic living writers. Stella Maris is a companion piece to The Passenger, released last month, taking a philosophical approach to themes of familial connections and psychological struggles.

Empire of Ice and Stone by Buddy Levy
“Empire of Ice and Stone” by Buddy Levy
St. Martin’s Press

Buddy Levy, Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk (Dec. 6)

Oftentimes, narratives of bold exploration are inexorably connected to narratives of tragic journeys. Buddy Levy’s new book chronicles the journey of the Karluk, a Canadian vessel which set out for the Arctic Ocean in 1913 and then became trapped in the ice. It was then that the ship’s captain made a faithful decision — making for a gripping account of survival.

Raw Deal by Chloe Sorvino
“Raw Deal” by Chloe Sorvino
Atria Books

Chloe Sorvino, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed, and the Fight for the Future of Meat (Dec. 6)

How much time do you spend thinking about where the meat that you eat (assuming you’re an omnivore) comes from? There are numerous issues to keep in mind, from the conditions under which it’s processed to the nutrition it provides. Chloe Sorvino’s new book Raw Deal covers an array of issues relating to the industry that brings meat to the nation’s diners — from working conditions to the development of meat alternatives.

The Outlands by William Eggleston
“The Outlands” by William Eggleston
David Zwirner Books

William Eggleston, The Outlands, Selected Works (Dec. 6)

If you’re in New York City through December 17, there’s a new show of photography by William Eggleston on display at David Zwirner. The Outlands is the companion volume to that show, featuring previously-unseen work by Eggleston dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. And as an added bonus, art historian Robert Slifkin and novelist Rachel Kushner also contributed to this book.

Your Table Is Ready by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina
“Your Table Is Ready” by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina
St. Martin’s Press

Michael Cecchi-Azzolina, Your Table Is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maître D’ (Dec. 6)

There’s a grand tradition of nonfiction that goes behind the curtain and shows the inner workings of restaurants, from Down and Out in Paris and London to Kitchen Confidential. Michael Cecchi-Azzolina’s contribution to this genre zeroes in on his own time working in restaurants from the River Cafe to La Rousse, and features candid observations on the eateries themselves and the diners who frequented them.

The McCartney Legacy by Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair
“The McCartney Legacy” by Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair
Dey Street Books

Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair, The McCartney Legacy: Volume 1: 1969 – 73 (Dec. 13)

What happens when a musical authority and a rigorous researcher team up for a biography of one of rock music’s leading lights? You get The McCartney Legacy, a multi-volume biography of Paul McCartney that focuses on his life outside of The Beatles. The first volume, due out this month, focuses on McCartney in the wake of his band’s dissolution — and the steps that made him an icon in his own right.

The Brompton by William Butler-Adams and Dan Davies
“The Brompton” by William Butler-Adams and Dan Davies
The Experiment

William Butler-Adams and Dan Davies, The Brompton: Engineering for Change (Dec. 13)

If you think of yourself as someone fond of both industrial design and personal transportation, the Brompton bicycle has a host of appealing qualities, from its distinctive look to its portability. With this new book, the company’s CEO explores the history behind the bicycle and explores just how a unique idea gradually found a responsive global audience.

Into the Great Emptiness by David Roberts
“Into the Great Emptiness” by David Roberts
W. W. Norton & Company

David Roberts, Into the Great Emptiness: Peril and Survival on the Greenland Ice Cap (Dec. 27)

Maybe it’s the fact that the temperature’s dropping, but this month seems to abound with new books about treacherous experiences in polar regions. David Roberts’s Into the Great Emptiness chronicles a harrowing journey in 1930 to set up a weather station in a remote part of Greenland — and of an even more nerve-wracking rescue mission that followed in its wake.

Beaverland by Leila Philip
“Beaverland” by Leila Philip

Leila Philip, Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America (Dec. 6)

When you think of the United States, what’s the first animal that comes to mind? Some might argue it’s the bald eagle; others might take a cue from Benjamin Franklin and point to the turkey. Leila Philip’s new book Beaverland makes a very different case — namely, that beavers have had a massive impact on the nation’s economy and natural landscape.

No One Left to Come Looking for You by Sam Lipsyte
“No One Left to Come Looking for You” by Sam Lipsyte
Simon & Schuster

Sam Lipsyte, No One Left to Come Looking for You (Dec. 6)

Few other writers can summon up the bleak comedy that Sam Lipsyte has made one of his specialities. He has a penchant for troubled characters in awkward situations, retaining a core of emotional realism even as his characters venture to more and more fraught places. (His Home Land is an all-time favorite of mine.) The fact that Lipsyte’s new novel is a mystery set against the backdrop of New York’s 90s music scene — something he knows quite a bit about — makes it especially hard to resist. 

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