The best of 2022

The books that everyone was talking about this year

For some, the biggest end-of-year traditions might be holidays and hot chocolate, family and festivities, or the first snowfall and all the merriment that comes with it. Our favorite end-of-year tradition is gathering ‘round… to pore over the latest best-of book lists. It’s an opportunity to reflect on a year in publishing and, more importantly, to count just how many of the top picks made their way onto our bedside tables.

This year, we are honored to count many of our own books among the “best of the year.” Read on below, and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear about our next “best” books.

Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine by Michelle Drouin

Included in New Scientist’s best nonfiction books of 2022; and an MIT Press Reader excerpt of the book was included in Pocket’s most read articles of 2022

“Michelle Drouin’s Out of Touch offers a survey of the same territory, after Covid-19. The psychologist challenges the idea that technology can ever ‘stand in’ for activities rooted in society and biology.” —New Scientist

Redesigning Work: How to Transform Your Organization and Make Hybrid Work for Everyone by Lynda Gratton

Included in Financial Timesbest books of the year

“Professor and consultant Lynda Gratton seeks out real-world examples of how innovative employers, from Fujitsu to HSBC, are creating and managing hybrid and flexible working. With characteristic verve, she lays out four practical steps towards reshaping your business for the imminent arrival of the future of work.” —Financial Times

The Exquisite Machine: The New Science of the Heart by Sian E. Harding

Included in HealthCentral’s best holiday gifts of 2022

“For the ever-curious reader on your list: Author Sian Harding, Ph.D., a professor of cardiac pharmacology at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College, London, explores the relationship between emotions and function in The Exquisite Machine, a book with real heart.” —HealthCentral

Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus by Maia Weinstock

Included in Physics Today’s books that stood out in 2022

“Science writer Maia Weinstock documents how Dresselhaus overcame a hardscrabble background in the Bronx in the 1930s and 1940s and rampant sexism from, for example, the Cornell faculty to rise to the top of her field. Dresselhaus’s work on carbon fullerenes, among many other materials, led to her receiving the titular nickname ‘carbon queen.’ Reviewer Mary Jo Nye calls the book ‘engaging and inspirational.’” —Physics Today

Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births by Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick

Included in the Guardian’s best designs of 2022

“A long-overdue, taboo-busting project that kickstarts some much-needed conversations about the impact design and material culture continue to have on the lived reality of motherhood.” —the Guardian

The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be by Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner

Included in Forbes’ best higher education books of 2022 

“Based on more than 2,000 interviews with students, faculty, staff, parents and other stakeholders at ten institutions ranging from highly selective colleges to less selective universities, the authors explore how colleges achieve (or don’t) what they contend should be higher education’s ultimate goal—the cultivation of Higher Education Capital (HEDCAP)—the ‘ability to attend, analyze, connect and communicate on issues of importance and interest.’ The authors… recommend how colleges can enhance student learning, addressing the two ‘most surprising’ discoveries typifying students at the ten schools—concerns about mental health and feelings of isolation and alienation.” —Forbes

The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects by Edward J. Hoffman, Matthew Kohut and Laurence Prusak

Included in Next Big Idea Club’s top 20 leadership books of 2022

This paradigm-shifting book—by three project management experts, all of whom have decades of experience at NASA and elsewhere—challenges the conventional wisdom on project management, focusing on the human dimension: learning, collaboration, teaming, communication, and culture.

Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work by Ruchika Tulshyan

Included in Next Big Idea Club’s top 20 leadership books of 2022

An eye-opening look at how organizations can foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, taking action to address and prevent workplace bias while centering women of color.

Design after Capitalism: Transforming Design Today for an Equitable Tomorrow by Matthew Wizinsky

Included in FastCompany’s best design books of 2022

“It’s no small feat that Wizinsky is able to take two big ideas—capitalism and design—and synthesize them into a human-scale narrative. Design After Capitalism is part alternative history of design and capitalism entanglements, part case studies of post- and anti-capitalist design from around the world, and part tool kit to begin imagining new ways of design—ways of talking about it, ways of practicing it, and ways of engaging with it that could exist in a post-capitalist future.” —FastCompany

The Nexus: Augmented Thinking For a Complex World and the New Convergence of Art, Technology, and Science by Julio Mario Ottino with Bruce Mau

Included in Artificiality’s best books of ‘22

“A fabulous, visually stunning journey of complexity. New ways to think about convergence across different fields giving rise to different opportunities and problems. For readers who revel in multidisciplinary approaches and seek inspiration through linking and association of many ideas.” —Artificiality

How to Stay Smart in a Smart World: Why Human Intelligence Still Beats Algorithms by Gerd Gigerenzer

Included in Behavioral Scientist’s notable books of 2022; Library Journal’s best science and technology books of 2022; and Artificiality’s best books of ‘22

“Gerd’s latest book lays out the logic for human strengths against machines and algorithms. For readers who want more detail and useful ideas for when not to look for an algorithm and when to use simple human-level structures over complex machines and data.” —Artificiality

The Squares: US Physical and Engineering Scientists in the Long 1970s by Cyrus C. M. Mody

Included in Physics Today’s books that stood out in 2022

Although historians tend to be attracted to revolutionaries or iconoclasts, most individuals don’t fall into those categories. In The Squares, historian Cyrus Mody examines what it was like to be an ordinary, or ‘square,’ physicist during the 1970s. Reviewer Michael Gordin wryly remarks that the squares are ‘fortunate that a person of Mody’s talents has taken them up.’” —Physics Today

Microprediction: Building an Open AI Network by Peter Cotton

Named as Rebellion Research’s 2022 book of the year

“In an engaging, colloquial style, Dr. Cotton argues that market-inspired ‘superminds’ are likely to be very effective compared with other orchestration mechanisms in the domain of microprediction.” —Rebellion Research

Sexus Animalis: There Is Nothing Unnatural in Nature by Emmanuelle Pouydebat

Included in New Scientist’s best nonfiction books of 2022

“In Sexus Animalis, natural history researcher Emmanuelle Pouydebat finds lessons of another kind as she peers through the keyhole of animal sexuality. In justifying her subtitle ‘There is nothing unnatural in nature,’ she reminds us about the sheer breadth and diversity of animal behaviors, including our own.” —New Scientist

In the Black Fantastic by Ekow Eshun

Included in AARP’s book gift ideas of 2022; the Globe and Mail’s best books to gift this year; and the New York TImes’ coffee table gift books for 2022

“For a unique gift, consider this gorgeous book—an illustrated interpretation of Black culture through wildly imaginative art and photography from across the world, broken up into themes like “migration” and “liberation,” by British writer and curator Eshun.” —AARP

Master of the Two Left Feet: Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered by Richard Meyer

Included in New Yorker’s best books of 2022

“This biography of the self-taught painter Morris Hirshfield (1872-1946) is also a study of the vagaries of artistic reputation. Meyer situates Hirshfield’s idiosyncratic output in the popular imagery and fine art of the period, suggesting that he was savvier than his early admirers knew.” —New Yorker

The Parent Trap: How to Stop Overloading Parents and Fix Our Inequality Crisis by Nate G. Hilger

Included in Greater Good’s favorite parenting books of 2022

Parent Trap highlights the folly in expecting parents to shoulder the complete responsibility for their children’s skill development, because it leads to success for only a fraction of children whose parents are wealthy. Hilger wants to stop overwhelming parents with unrealistic expectations and provide them with professional support and resources to help their children thrive and fulfill their potential.” —Greater Good

Stars in Your Hand: A Guide to 3D Printing the Cosmos by Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke 

Included in New Scientist’s best nonfiction books of 2022

“Armchair space travel is a passive business, but Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke give their readers plenty to do in Stars in Your Hand, their guide to 3D printing the cosmos.” —New Scientist

Imaginary Languages: Myths, Utopias, Fantasies, Illusions, and Linguistic Fictions by Marina Yaguello

Included in New Yorker’s best books of 2022

“Expanding on a study published in France in 1984, a noted linguist surveys the history of language invention, an enterprise undertaken by centuries of ‘lunatic lovers of language,’ for reasons philosophical, political, artistic, and arcane. The mind-bending nature of the book’s subject, which offers seemingly infinite paths of inquiry, could overwhelm, but Yaguello relates the material with gusto, offering an idiosyncratic, illuminating perspective on the development of Western thought.” —New Yorker

Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media for Equity and Justice by Katerina Cizek and William Uricchio

Included in Artificiality’s best books of ‘22

“An important reset in perspective about co-creation: what happens when we rethink attribution and structure creativity around justice. For readers who wonder about different ways of innovating for social justice and don’t want to see the term co-creation be simply co-opted as the next innovation buzzword.” —Artificiality

On Bramante by Pier Paolo Tamburelli

Included in the New York Times’s best art books of 2022

“This book is a rare effort to rethink our present deadlocks through historical models—and its ironic Neo-Classicism is beautifully buttressed by Bas Princen’s spare photographs of Bramante nerve centers: Milan’s Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo painted ‘The Last Supper’ or the cloisters of Rome’s Santa Maria della Pace.” —The New York Times

Sandfuture by Justin Beal

Included in Archinect’s 2022 holiday gift guide

“This title from MIT Press about the life of late World Trade Center designer Minoru Yamasaki is both a compelling and technically precise account of not only the architect but also the city during times of unprecedented change and challenges. In 256 pages, [Beal] offers a very readable depiction of the construction of Yamasaki’s tragic masterpiece and the bridge to our era that followed its highly-televised destruction.” —Archinect

The Spider’s Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry by Keith J. Holyoak

An MIT Press Reader article about the book was included in Longread’s top 5 of the year

Cognitive psychologist and poet Keith Holyoak explores whether artificial intelligence could ever achieve poetic authenticity.

What Not by Rose Macaulay

Included in First Things’ bookish gift guide

“Let us suppose that among your friends is someone who reads a great deal of fiction and loves Rose Macaulay’s 1956 novel The Towers of Trebizond but is unlikely to be a Macaulay completist, hence unlikely to have looked at her 1918 novel What Not, set in a (then) near-future England and now reissued by MIT Press in their very interesting Radium Age series, with an introduction by Matthew De Abaitua. It’s a very odd but absorbing book, with thematic links to The Towers of Trebizond.” —First Things

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