Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Get ready for the bests

Now that we're only one month from the end of the year, a flurry of media/literary outlets have already started putting out "Best of" lists, and there's only going to be tons more as we near 2009's end. Some interesting examples out now:

*The New York Times Book review has published its "100 Best Books of 2009" list and, wait, what? One hundred books? How is that useful to anyone? Also as someone on Twitter points out: @MAOrthofer: NYTBR doesnt even believe in '3%' - out of '100 notable books of 2009' http://bit.ly/5YJC9z only TWO are translations. There has long been a perception in the publishing world that Americans absolutely do not care about books that are translated from other languages, whereas audiences in the rest of the world are happy to read translated works. NOT HELPING, New York Times. In the words of another book blogger: "I know some readers are interested in American literature, but I hope most of us are just plain interested in literature. Two out of a hundred?"

*For a more visual thrill, you can look at Amazon's "Best Book Covers of 2009" list.

*Publisher's Weekly put out their "Best of 2009" list a couple weeks ago and a ton of people freaked out (see: "Sexism row over Publisher's Weekly top books of 2009") since pretty much all of the authors listed are guys. The blogosphere has thrown the term "sausage fest" around a lot.

*The Onion AV Club released its "Best Comics of the 00's". Its exclusive fixation on tepid "high culture" comics is not really to my taste. I don't get Achewood, and I thought Blankets, Persepolis, Pyongyang, Fun Home and Black Hole were all overrated--although college curricula have embraced them all pretty much across the board. Sean T. Collins at CBR gives voice to a lot of the criticisms I might level at the list--there's no manga, its "focus on New Yorker-friendly storytelling modes", no ranking of selections. But check it out out for yourself.

*The Guardian UK asked a bunch of famous writers (and other Brit celebrities of one sort or another) what they thought were the best books of the year. A bunch of heavyweights like Colum McCann, Nick Hornby, Kazuo Ishiguro, Peter Carey, Malcolm Gladwell, Eric Hobsbawm, and Colm Toibin, &c. &c., weigh in with their picks.


mordicai said...

What, 100 books-- you could read them all next year if you wanted to.

David said...

I'm pretty sure I don't want to read 100 best NYT books.