Saturday, December 15, 2018

"Why Is This at All Important?"

My local library is running an informal Best Books of 2018 contest. Customers can vote on social media or drop their vote in a "ballot box" (i.e., a shoe box wrapped in craft paper). One anonymous commenter decided not to vote. Instead, he or she left a note asking, "Why is this at all important?"

The answer, of course, is that it's not one bit important! It's fun

I adore this time of year, when every media outlet with even the slightest literary pretension produces a list of the best five or ten or hundred books published in 2018. 

Thus I present for you a list of my favorite lists of the best books of 2018. Yes, a listicle of listicles. It's so meta, I can hardly stand myself. 

1. The granddaddy of them all is NPR's "Book Concierge," a 318-item list of books sortable into the standard genres, but also book club reads, short books, long books, "eye-opening reads," and some other unusual categories that make the list a fun way to wile away a half-hour--when you're not actually reading, of course.

2. The New York Public Library's list was curated by its staff (and was the inspiration for my local library's informal contest).

3. The Times Book Review chimes in every year with a great list. (That one might be behind a paywall if you've already used up your free views for the month.)

4. In a completely different list the New York Times book critics also pronounced on their favorites. (Also potentially behind a paywall.)

5. Slate, of course, has an opinion.

6. Slate also has an opinion about audiobooks.

7. PopSugar has the lighter fare covered. 

8. Once you get past the offers to join their recipe email list, Southern Living has a great list of choices curated from independent bookstores.

9. LitHub is probably my favorite literary website, and their mostly unique list is probably my favorite, as well. 

That's a lot of lists to sort through. If you're not in the mood, here are a few books that show up on at least three lists. 

Calypso, by David Sedaris
Circe, by Madeline Miller
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, by David W. Blight (nonfiction)
I'll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara (nonfiction)
The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner
Milkman, by Anna Burns (just won the 2018 Man Booker Prize)
There, There, by Tommy Orange
Transcription, by Kate Atkinson
Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan

After combing through all these lists, I'm most excited to read My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite. And I guess probably There, There, just because it showed up on almost every list and I want to decide for myself if it's worth the fuss.

Et tu? Have you added anything to your TBR pile because it showed up on a Best-Of list? 

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