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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Best List

It is the time of the year that the “Best of” lists come out. I like these lists because it helps me find good books that I might have otherwise missed. Some of them, though, sort of miss the mark on what will interest the general reader. Luckily, there are plenty of lists from which to choose.

Many times we look to the New York Times to tell us which books were the best, but I find many of the items on its list to be somewhat inaccessible and a tad, or a lot, too literary. So, what were probably the very best “written” books this year? The fiction titles include “The Door” by Magda Szabo;A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories” by Lucia Berlin; Outline by Rachel Cusk; The Sellout” by Paul Beatty; and “The Story of the Lost Child (Book four of The Neapolitan series) by Elena Ferrante.

The NYT’s 100 notable books of 2015 is also out. I find that list to be more appealing to my tastes, while still being sufficiently literary to make what I read meaningful.

A list I really do like is Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2015. PW names a top 10 list which is fine, but I like its ancillary list that includes the top books in an array of fiction genres and non-fiction topics. Readers get a chance to see titles in topics they enjoy and to be exposed to great books that would never get top 10 attention. Incidentally, Ferrante’s novel is the only fiction title repeated on both the NYT and PW very top lists.

The list at the top of MY list is LibraryReads’ Favorite of Favorites 2015. This list is compiled by librarians and the title of the list really says it all. These are librarians’ “favorite” books, not necessarily the “best,” which is a huge distinction. Just because something is technically excellent does not mean that it has “soul.”

However, it is nice to read something that really is the “best” sometimes, so why not mix it up and try a bit from all of the lists. For more “Best of 2015,” see our webpage compiling different lists at Then, hop onto our Facebook page and tell us which book you thought was the best of the year.

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