Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | December 31, 2014

List of End-of-the-Year Book Lists

First off, Michelle Dean, writing at Andrew Sullivan’s place, would like you to be aware that those end-of-the-year book lists are “useless”:

Those end of the year book lists are lumbering around the internet right now, coming soon to a friend’s Facebook wall near you. NPR’s list of 2014 Great Reads numbers 250; the New York Times Book Review offers the slightly more conservative 100 Notable Books of 2014. The hugeness of these lists betrays something: their uselessness. My eyes always cross at lists that number above, say, 25. It certainly doesn’t narrow down the Christmas shopping list much.

Plus, these lists get to be disquieting documents of the Way We Publish Now. … It’s not an amazing environment for the production of literature. Mostly, publishers are throwing all sorts of stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I find it overwhelming and kind of sad…

With that in mind, I cheerfully recommend the following lists to your attention:

1. Chris Blattman’s favorite novels of the year (11 books).

2. Tyler Cowen’s list of the best non-fiction books of 2014 (32). Prof. Cowen’s fiction list is here (7). He also has a follow-up list of “other essential books” (“all very, very good”) (8).

3. From NPR’s Fresh Air, Maureen Corrigan’s Favorite Books Of 2014 (15).

See also the numerous end-of-year lists at this blog.


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