Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More Best-Of-2014 Lists! An Annotated Look at the Shelf Awareness Top 20.

Our friends at Shelf Awareness also have a top 10 (or rather, top 20) of 2014 and I was particularly excited as it was my best showing to date in reads, five out of twenty books! I've been very self-conscious that this is probably my worst book-completed list since college. And actually they have a children's list so it's actually a top 30. But how the heck to I count wordless picture books in my total, which is really tough, as I have been recommending both Before After and The Farmer and the Clown this fall, and Frazee's picture book made their top 10.

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher
Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
Fives and Twenty-Fives, by Michael Pitre
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
Redeployment, by Phil Klay
Red Rising, by Pierce Brown
Ruby, by Cynthia Bond
The Secret Place, by Tana French
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

I read Dear Committee Members, Everything I Never Told You, and Station Eleven. The Celeste Ng novel is actually bubbling under the top 15 on The New York Times bestseller List. It was our online competitor's best novel of the year, which means they are pushing it hard. I think it's a wonderful novel too, and was on my rec shelf for months, but while my customers would see this as a natural for my rec shelf, I wonder if their customers will go with its quiet power.

This list reminded me that there was a lot of buzz for Cynthia Bond's Ruby before publication, but it wound up being quiet for us, despite a nice rec from Carly. She called it "At once a brutally horrific and endearing tale of romance and intolerance." It's nice for it to get another shout out.

And of course there are always books that completely escape your radar. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, is about a Swedish curmudgeon whose life is upended when a young family moves next door. They are comparing it to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and it's reminding me a bit of Florence Gordon as well. I'll have to show this to Jane and Anne.

And I can think of a few people who might like Red Rising, by Pierce Brown. It's a science fiction novel about a caste of workers on Mars that think they are helping to make it a livable planet for all, only they find out they are simply slaves to the ruling elite. You can only imagine what happens next? They get back to work, right?

All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, by Matt Bai
Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, by Geoff Dyer
Bad Feminist: Essays, by Roxane Gay
Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
Fire Shut Up in My Bones, by Charles M. Blow
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides
Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown Taylor
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre
Tibetan Peach Pie, by Tom Robbins

I read All The Truth is Out and Bad Feminist. Jason is a bit fan of In the Kingdom of Ice. And I have a funny story about The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs. A group of younger women came into the store yesterday to take a picture of the book, which was in our book club bookcase, with a shelf talker for their new group. They were hoping to get the book on a higher shelf, but alas, the groups are in alphabetical order. I said, "The only exception is the shelf at eye-level, which is the in-store groups." And one of them replied "Oh, you should become an in-store group." And I said "Oh, these are run by a bookseller." And she replied "Then you should become a bookseller." Oh, if hiring were that simple. But they were very happy to just be in the case. Hope the discussion goes well!

I don't know about you, but when you read a book randomly, as I did for All the Truth is Out, and it turns out to hit someone's best-of list, you feel like you've struck reading gold. I'm still not sure I'd recommend it to everybody, but if you're interested in politics or journalism, it really is a fascinating look at a turning point in our recent history.

Children's and Young Adult:
Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee
How I Discovered Poetry, by Marilyn Nelson, illus. by Hadley Hooper
I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, by Peter Sís
Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Jannis and Amie have both been working hard to turn people on to Peter Sis's The Pilot and the Little Prince and report back to me seemingly every success. It can be like that this time of year. I know I was letting Jason know at one point on Sunday every time a customer conversation turned to Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

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