A Year in Reading: Allegra Hyde

December 13, 2022 | 3 min read

eleutheria cover Allegra HydeThe last catastrophe cover Allegra HydeThe year had a surreal tinge. I travelled more than I had in a while, and this lent my days the mixed-up pleasure and terror of dislocation. I went to the Swiss Alps and ate cheese. I went to World of Coca Cola in Atlanta and drank soda until I felt sick. I went on TV and blinked into the bright lights. And then, back at home in Oberlin, Ohio, I went to class and talked to students about semi-colons—sometimes while wearing a mask, and sometimes not. Always there was the upside-down feeling of life returned to “normal,” though the pandemic has changed everything and new disasters are constant. Reading has been a way to hold my mind steady. Because I published my debut novel this year (Eleutheria), and will be putting out a story collection next year (The Last Catastrophe), I’ve been extra tuned in to the landscape of new books. But I read backlist books and classics as well. I mainlined audiobooks and Speechified-PDFs; I read short stories aloud to my beloved on a rocky beach in Maine; in bed, I held books above my face and read their pages like the underside of a small roof. I let the feelings provoked by imaginary worlds mingle with the upside-down feelings provoked by the world we live in. Which is all to say: to make sense of this surreal year, I’ve organized my reading into categories. I may be a Sagittarius sun, but I’m a Virgo moon. Here is what I’ve been putting into my eyes and ears, and what I’ve been talking about to anyone who will listen (and some folks who won’t).

the ash family cover Allegra HydeBooks with language that cuts like a knife:

Books that were not what I expected based on the jacket copy, but that I still enjoyed:

the museum of human history cover Allegra HydeBooks in which science is causing people problems:

Books that were structurally unsettling (both literally and figuratively):

the bridge of san luis rey cover Allegra HydeBooks that broke open my ice-cold heart and made me shed a tear:

Books that take the form of one long diagrammed sentence:

how to blow up a pipeline cover Allegra HydeBooks that offer useful advice, such as how to re-write a novel draft, or how to attend a sex party, or how to disrupt the oil and gas industry to save our planet from imminent destruction via climate change:

Books that offer a vision for what it might mean to rebuild society after the world is destroyed by climate change:

end of the world house cover Allegra HydeBooks that enter the multiverse:

Books that made me hungry:

family of origin cover Allegra HydeBooks that seem to be about a fixation on a type of bird, but that are really about something else:

Books that are disturbing and also compulsively readable:

cover Allegra HydeBooks that involve love stories with shocking twists:

Books that had been on my list for a minute because everyone said they were really good and—lo and behold—they were really good:

the man who could move the clouds cover Books that feel haunted:

Books that are set in the olden days, but that have a lot to say about our present times:

the runaway restaurant coverBooks that are collections about many things—including bat extermination, accidental dog deaths, and cigarette smoking—but that also possess a singular vision:

Books that I found hard to categorize, but that I emphatically recommend:

is the author of the novel Eleutheria, which was named a "Best Book of 2022" by The New Yorker, as well as of the story collection Of This New World, which won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Her second story collection, The Last Catastrophe, will be published in March 2023 by Vintage.