Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trying to Come up With My Year's Favorites.

So the holiday is on its way, and back in September, we're supposed to come up with our favorite books of the year, such that Mel can feature them in our holiday gift guide (just delivered) and our two favorite hardcovers can be included by Jason in our year-end Boswell Best. Every year, I am one of the last people to come up with my books, which sort of drives people crazy, but what can they do, as I always look very, very busy, and heck, I own the place.

But I finally did, and I'm pretty happy with the results
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
The Tastemakers, by David Sax
Before After, by Matthias Arégui and Anne-Margot Ramstein
How Not to be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
You can find these books and everything else mentioned on the Boswell website.

But that's only one novel. Where's the rest of my top five? The truth is that this was done for our holiday newsletter which tends to be fiction heavy, so I thought it would be more useful to have picks in other areas.

And of course, it is always tough to winnow down favorites. My top five fiction would have also included All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews, for example, but I read it a little late for the deadline. I was also bummed that two novels I really liked that had multiple reads and I thought would make our lists didn't because they didn't make anyone's top five (and note the top five is not fiction, it's fiction, nonfiction, and kids' books, so it's tough going). In any case, a special shout out to Nickolas Butler's Shotgun Lovesongs and Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members.

Between our in-store lit group and paperback events, I read a surprising number of great books the year after they come out, for a bookseller. Several of this year's fiction favorites are from 2013, including Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings and Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens.

I hate making these sorts of lists, which is so weird because I tabulated my favorite songs every week for something like 25 years. But that made the year-end list easy, because I just added up the points from each week; the whole thing was out of my hands, which is sort of odd for a purely subjecting list.

So I could make a vow to keep track of my top five fiction, nonfiction, and kids books every week for 2015, but I just don't think that's going to happen.

So that's why we have critics.Sunday's Journal Sentinel will have the favorites of critics Jim Higgins, Carole E. Barrowman, and Mike Fischer. Can't wait to see them!

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