Sunday, December 14, 2008

Top Tens of the Year, New York Times, Washington Post and more

The New York Times top ten has become a much bigger deal for booksellers in the last few years. The Times made some tweaks that really made readers take notice. For one thing, they publish a longlist the week before of the Top 100 notable books. They've done this forever, but by giving it the significance of 100, it makes it sound more important.

Today was the official release of the top 10. In the past, the number of editor's choice titles fluctuated, with a number that I think was as low as seven and as high as twelve. Now it's the Ten Best Books of 2008. Much better.

7. The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins

When we were first sold these titles, only Morrison and Lahiri were slam dunks. We took decent positions (for us, that's a face-out of four to five copies per shop) of O'Neill and Barnes, due to publisher enthusiasm on the first and rep enthusiasm on the second. Our Knopf rep was positively over-the-top on the Barnes. 2666 was a priority book for FSG with its two formats, and so we went a bit bigger on that as well. On the other hand, I was ready to skip the Patrick French biography. Authorized biography of a living writer? I guess that's the hot thing--witness the success of Snowball.
I was a bit surprised to see two books that are effectively on Bush policy. Will people be reading the Filkins and Mayer in ten years? How about in paperback?

Here's a list that will probably not get as much attention, the Washington Post Best Books of the Year for 2008
1. Cost, by Roxana Robinson
2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson

I was wondering what happened to Outlander, a book that got amazing reviews and readers, but has been so far shut out of the prizes. Nice to see Hedgehog of course, and several nonfiction books piqued my interest. I enjoyed Pham's Catfish and Mandala years ago, and one of our customers has been excited about the publication of Words in Air for years.

When will the first collected emails collection come out?

One more list, the Books of the Year from The Atlantic:
1. Europe Between the Oceans, by Barry Cunliffe

Yay! Another book on our favorite books list from our Gift Guide. Here's what Ken Favell at our Brookfield shop said about Olive Kitteridge:

An exquisite novel in stories that sparkles with wonderful character
insight. Olive is such a complex lady, a stern New Englander who you
can't help but empathize with. The best book I’ve read this year. What a gem!
Finally, here are Stephen King's Top 10 Books of 2008, as listed in Entertainment Weekly. Mr. King has helped a book along over the years, such as giving a real boost to Kate Atkinson's Case Histories.

Ex-Milwaukeean Perlstein visited Schwartz this fall, and since he still has family here, he might come back in the future. Stephen King called Nixonland the best history of the 60's he's ever read.

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