Every book is a conversation between an author and a reader. The ability to extend that conversation beyond the page, to talk in real time with the person who poured their best effort into communicating something—beautiful, true, significant—is the very best part of my job at Kirkus. As Fully Booked prepares to celebrate its 300th episode on Dec. 27, I look back on another incredible year in podcasting with deep gratitude: to the authors who told the stories behind their stories; to my colleagues, Kirkus’ editors, who shared their expertise; and to recording engineer extraordinaire Cabel Adkins, who always ensures we sound our best.

While we always hope to bring you the best in author interviews and reading recommendations, 2022 brought one big change in the way we’re able to do it: As of May, in addition to listening via iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you regularly get your podcasts, you can find the video version of Fully Booked on Kirkus’ YouTube channel. It’s been great fun to offer a glimpse from my side of the microphone of what goes into making these episodes each week.

Whether you join us by sight or by sound, thanks for listening to Fully Booked—and cheers to another year of unforgettable conversations! The following episodes are a few of my favorites from 2022:

Jessamine Chan (Episode 253): In February, Chan, author of The School for Good Mothers (Simon & Schuster, Feb. 1)—and a former Publishers Weekly reviews editor—dished on her deliciously dark debut, a social satire centering on a Philadelphia mother who undergoes a yearlong incarceration at an experimental reeducation facility in an attempt to win back her parental rights. She described what it was like to be on the receiving end of reviewers’ pens and her felicitous promotional tour.

Anton Hur (Episode 257): Stellar South Korea–based translator Anton Hur joined us ahead of the publication of his English translation of Violets, by Man Asian Literary Prize–winning novelist Kyung-sook Shin (Feminist Press, April 12), for the International Episode of the podcast. I loved listening to his insights on Shin’s genius, the Korean literature translation community, and why it’s important to see translators’ names on covers.

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (Episode 276): I had blast talking with Sullivan about Big Girl (Liveright, July 12), one of my favorite debut novels of the summer—especially about her unforgettable protagonist, Malaya Clondon, a young Black girl who dreams big and comes into her own in 1990s Harlem. We covered everything from writing about place to limited third-person narration to Sullivan’s joyful experience working with high schoolers as part of Lambda Literary’s LGBTQ Writers in Schools program.

Chrysta Bilton (Episode 277): Bilton’s memoir of an unconventional California childhood truly blew me away: Normal Family: On Truth, Love, and How I Met My 35 Siblings (Little, Brown, July 12) begins with a scene at Bilton’s home, where she’s invited a large group of her half siblings, whose existence she discovered after her father came out in the New York Times as perhaps the most prolific sperm donor in American history. Where she takes the narrative from there is a great surprise, and I was eager to hear how she decided to structure the story.

Oscar Hokeah (Episode 278): The following week, Hokeah shared some of the ideas behind the novel Calling for a Blanket Dance (Algonquin, July 26), a masterwork of peripheral narration in which the life story of a young Oklahoma man named Ever Geimausaddle is told by 11 members of his Kiowa, Cherokee, and Mexican American family. I loved learning about Hokeah’s polyvocal approach to the novel and discussing how to broaden access to literary theory.

Beth Macy (Episode 281): For this year’s Fall Preview episode, I had the great joy of interviewing Macy, one of my journalism heroes, for the first time on the podcast (we spoke previously about Truevine and Dopesick for the magazine). Picking up where Dopesick left off, Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis (Little, Brown, Aug. 16) evolves Macy’s top-notch journalism on the opioid crisis, highlighting actions everyone can take to aid the people in our communities with substance use disorders and help decrease deaths of despair.

Carmen Rita Wong (Episode 282): Sometimes a kind of magic happens right off the bat when you hit record, and this was one of those days: I loved discussing Wong’s bighearted and sharp memoir—a true New York combination—called Why Didn’t You Tell Me? (Crown, July 12). Wong, who was raised Dominican Chinese in New York City and New Hampshire, contends with family secrets and identity issues in a fresh and fearless way, and it was a pleasure to discuss the importance of telling your own truth and freedom of expression with her.

Sidik Fofana (Episode 283): For our last podcast of August, I had the distinct privilege of discussing Stories From the Tenants Downstairs (Scribner, Aug. 16) with debut author Fofana. His is a story collection comprised of eight surprising stories set in Banneker Terrace, a fictional high-rise on the corner of 129th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Central Harlem. We talked about everything from the rap that begins the book to how damn hard it is to write a good short story (very), with a satisfying segue into several of the distinctive voices that narrate the book.

Ling Ma (Episode 285): Part of the fun of talking to Kirkus Prize winner Ma in September—before we got to the fun of discussing her excellent story collection, Bliss Montage (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 13)—was hearing about her experience receiving the award for Severance at our in-person ceremony in Austin, Texas, in 2018. A discussion of the surreality of that day segued to discussing the surreality of the stories, some of which were formed from dreams.

Namwali Serpell (Episode 288): In October, Serpell returned to the podcast to discuss The Furrows (Hogarth, Sept. 27), in which a character named Cassandra relives and revises the day her brother disappeared while swimming off the shore of Delaware. The book’s opening lines, “I don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt,” are unforgettable; so, too, is Serpell’s brilliant introduction to the book at our conversation’s start.

Editor at large Megan Labrise hosts the Fully Booked podcast.

Photo credits: Jordan Kines; Beowulf Sheehan; Seher; Anjali Pinto; Roque Nonini; Anton Hur; Elizabeth Lippman; Dalton Presse; Kathryn Raines; Little, Brown