This weekend, we’re going behind the scenes of the FT’s legendary Books of the Year roundup. Literary editor Frederick Studemann and deputy books editor Laura Battle take us into a secret room in the basement of the FT, where all the books sent in for review are kept behind lock and key. You’ll leave this episode with a lot on your reading list, including recommendations from editor Roula Khalaf, FT weekend editor Alec Russell, chief economics commentator Martin Wolf and more.

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We want your cultural predictions, wishes, or questions for 2022! Share them with Lilah and FT Magazine editor Matt Vella by Sunday, December 12. Open your phone’s voice memo app, get close to the mic and say your name, location and your thoughts, then email it to You can write to us, too. But you’ll sound great on tape, we promise.

Links and mentions from the episode: 

–Roula Khalaf recommends Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

–Pilita Clark recommends The Hydrogen Revolution by Marco Alvira and How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm. Her whole climate list: 

–Alec Russell recommends Sentient by Jackie Higgins and Free by Lea Ypi

–Edwin Heathcote recommends Public House: A Cultural and Social History of the London Pub. His whole architecture and design list:

–One of Edwin’s favorite books of the past few years is Sandfuture by Justin Beal. Here’s his review (free to read): 

–Fred Studemann recommends Notes from Deep Time by Helen Gordon, The Passenger by Ulrich Boschwitz and Just the Plague by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

–Laura Battle recommends Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, and the audiobook of Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. Her whole fiction list: 

–Martin Wolf’s economics list: 

–Explore the whole Books of the Year package:

Original music by Metaphor Music. Mixing and sound design is by Breen Turner.

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