I'm very grateful to be one of the booksellers talking about holiday reads with Susan Stamberg on NPR's Morning Edition. There are so many complicated factors that go into determining which books to select.
a. You don't really want to talk about a book that's already gotten massive attention. That's one reason why I think Freedom was not nominated for the National Book Award. You only need one person on the nominating committee to have strong feelings against it. And Franzen's novel can be a bit polarizing, even with Oprah making peace with the whole thing. That has nothing to say with my selection, but I've wanted to say that for a while!
b. Two of my favorite books of the year were listed on the spring roundup, Day for Night, and The Lonely Polygamist and you can't use them again. I continue to talk about Frederick Reiken's book on other interviews, but it leads into the next problem.
c. I love complicated plots, but I am confounded by talking about them. It continues to trip me up. I like to review all the books I talk about, reading my notes I took while I was writing them, and even reskimming. We find pieces to read in each book on the shortlist to discuss. That led me to cross out at the last minute, Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge. Why? I thought I'd never get through it in the two days I alloted for studying, and worried I might mess up a plot point. I still love it though.
Here's the piece that aired, as well as my writeups on four other books I loved. Surprise! I've already written blog posts about each of them.
--The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman
--Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin
--My Year of Flops, by Nathan Rabin
--The Wilding, by Benjamin Percy
Thanks to Shelf Awareness, who found the link before I could. And thanks to the fates, who had me turn on the radio only minutes before the piece aired, giving me time to finish this blog and shovel some snow.