It’s my last Ask Traci column of the year! This month is themed a bit around end of year things, and I’m answering a few more questions than normal just to clear out the inbox and get to your holiday related questions in a timely fashion. Since I am clearing out the inbox, I need your help in sending more questions to start of 2023 so CLICK HERE and submit your question, and then come back the last Thursday of the month to see my advice.

I am a bit behind on my reading goal for the year. What are your favorite short books, preferably audiobooks?

Yes! You are not alone with trying to add a few more books to your 2022 tally. I think about this every year around November and December—what can I cram in to get those numbers up?—as if I am being graded on how many books I read. It might not be the best mentality, but it is where you and I find ourselves this December.

There are a few categories I usually lean on when I’m trying to hit my reading goals: short novels or story collections, memoirs, graphic novels/memoirs, young people’s literature, audiobooks, poetry and plays. Below are a few recommendations from these categories. I hope this helps you hit all your reading goals this year. But if you don’t hit, that’s ok too, next year is right around the corner.

Lot by Bryan Washington

I loved this slim story collection. It is really engaging and centers Black and brown queer youth in Houston. The city is the uniting force in this collection, and Washington’s prose are so good I didn’t want it to end.

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

This was one of my favorite books of 2022, and it comes in at under 200 pages, which means if you’re really committed you could get through this in a day or two. The book is broken into sections connected by one character and starts with a group of swimmers who discover a crack at the bottom of their pool. This book is smart and devastating with some of the best sentences I read all year.

The Other Side by Lacy M. Johnson

This one is not for the faint of heart: it is Johnson’s memoir that details her own kidnapping and rape at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. The book is brutal, as you might expect, but it is also a beautiful interrogation of harm and healing. Johnson is a poet and her writing style is both beautiful and full of fire. I couldn’t look away or put this book down. I also would suggest her follow up, a collection of essays on justice called The Reckonings, also phenomenal, though it is a bit longer, so it might be perfect for you on audio.

A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings by Will Betke-Brunswick

This graphic memoir is about Will, a nonbinary college student whose mother is dying from cancer. The book is one of the better depictions of grief and honoring those we love, because it is not deeply sad, but instead humorous and tender and filled with so many of the details that make relationships feel unique. The book is short since it’s a graphic memoir, so you can fly through it in one sitting.

Stuart Little by E. B. White

Hear me out on this one: young people’s literature is always a quick read. I also really enjoy revisiting books I loved as a child; it feels familiar and yet I get to reckon with the text in new ways. This year, I plan to read Stuart Little before the year is out, and I think you should read it with me. If you’re not familiar, it’s about a mouse on an adventure. What’s not to like? If this one isn’t for you, you could always revisit a book you know and are curious to see it in a new season of life.

Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream by Mycahl Denzel Smith

This is one of those books that I read and immediately told everyone they should read it too. A lot of people didn’t listen to me, but I really think you should. It’s short and fantastic on audio. It’s Smith’s reckoning of what it means to be a certain kind of liberal American, especially a Black one, in the wake of the 2016 election that placed Donald Trump in the presidency. The book is smart and searing and Smith’s audio narration is brilliant. Not to mention it clocks in at under four hours.

Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language by Amanda Montell

If you’ve ever wondered about the ways sexism shows up in language, this book is for you. Montell is a linguist and a millennial, and she mixes academia with accessible storytelling to present a fantastic overview of the ways women are judged harshly and treated differently for their use of the English language. I loved this book a whole lot. I listened to it, and it is a really well done audiobook, read by the author.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I do love a celebrity memoir on audio. Usually they go by pretty quickly (and often I bump the listening speed to 1.5x) and are juicy and easy to consume with A+ narration. I’m Glad My Mom Died is all of those things, though McCurdy does detail some major trauma and abuse. She finds the humor in it which makes it a lot easier to take in. It’s not exactly a holiday cheer book, but it is a really good celebrity memoir. Other (short-ish) celebrity memoirs on audio I might suggest include:

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Inside Out by Demi Moore

We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Obviously if these aren’t your kind of celebrities, you could easily find one that fits with your interest. Though I will say, I was not into Demi Moore before her book, and I thought it was fantastic. Same with Jeanette McCurdy actually. So yeah, try a celebrity book and enjoy the mess and chaos of rich influential people.

Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones

I can not and will not stop raving about this poetry collection. Easily one of the best books of 2022, it is a must read. I will also say poetry in general makes for a nice way to pad your reading states, because the books are often short but are packed with a lot to think and reflect on.

Fences by August Wilson

Let me just tell you—August Wilson could write a drama. This year I read through his entire century cycle of plays set in every decade of the 20th century. So good. My favorite of all of them is Fences, his most well-known play, and for good reason. It’s extraordinary, about a middle-aged man, Troy, and his disappointment with the hands he was dealt. It has one of the most iconic speeches in all of American theatre.

Should I get a book for my work white elephant exchange or is that too specific?

No, it’s not too specific. I think you can. If I’m not mistaken, in a while elephant exchange, if someone doesn’t like the gift they get, they can steal another gift, right? I think your best bet is to go with books that have broad appeal. Maybe a coffee table book or a cookbook? I have brought Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed to a gift swap and it was a big hit. Your other option might be a book that is being adapted for TV or film. I’m thinking Kindred by Octavia E. Butler might be fun this year since the FX show is out on December 13th. Since this is a work event, maybe there is a book about your industry that seems like an obvious fit for your colleagues more generally.

Can you share your lists of “If you like ___, you’ll love ___”?

Before I wrote bookish advice here at, I wrote monthly book pairings for a year. Here is the link to the back catalog. I hope you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Which books have you received ARCs for that aren’t out yet and LOVE, or what books are you looking forward to in 2023?

There is no better way to end the year than looking ahead to the new year. I just released my most anticipated reads of 2023 right here! The list has 25 titles coming in the next six months to get excited about.  You can also always find what I’m looking forward to by checking out my “Team Preorder” list on I update that regularly with the titles I’m most excited about as they cross my radar.