The NY Times Book Review editors just released their selections of the 100 Notable Books of 2009 (they will appear in print in the Dec. 6 print issue). Meanwhile, their colleagues, the three critics for the daily NYT each named their top ten.
The NYT reviewers see the year in publishing as having been,
…a bit of an off year, and the must-read milestones have been rare. There are fewer towering histories and biographies than usual. There’s more attention to a subject of newly urgent interest: finance.
Despite the “urgent interest” in finance, the only title on the subject that appears on any of the three reviewers’ lists is Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance. In fact, only two other titles have appeared on any of the lists so far; Carmen Reinhart’s This Time is Different and Justin Fox’s The Myth of the Rational Market.
Other critics do not agree that this has been an off year for biographies; the National Book Award winner for nonfiction was T.J. Sitles’s First Tycoon. Twenty six biographies have appeared on the best lists that have appeared so far, with Blake Bailey’s Cheever appearing on three of them (for a spreadsheet of the 396 titles on lists to date, click on our Bests — All Adult Titles — Spreadsheet).
NYT Book Review‘s editors see a “heartening development,” in the year’s books,
…the resurgence of the short story — and of the short-story writer. Twelve collections made our fiction list, and four biographies of short-story masters are on the nonfiction list.
Fittingly, the cover of the Book Review features Alice Munro’s short stories, Too Much Happiness.
Other lists have been weighted less towards short stories, but consensus is developing for Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, which appears on both the Book Review‘s list and three others so far (for a list of all the titles that have been on three lists or more, check our Bests — Titles Selected by Three or More — Spreadsheet.)
Since PW opened the conversation about the number of women on bests lists (in an odd way, by announcing there are NO women in their Top Ten), we checked to see how many women authors appeared on the new lists (for a list of all the women writers who have appeared on all the lists to date, click on our Bests — Women Authors).
Out of 100 on the NYT BR list, 32 are by women, or 32%. Of the total 30 titles chosen by the daily NYT reviewers, just 8 are by women, or 27%.
Below is an analysis of the percentage of women appearing on lists that have been published so far, from highest to lowest.
- Library Journal Genre Fiction — 33 titles — 67% women
- PW Best Childrens Books — 30 titles — 63.33% women
- National Book Award Finalists — 20 titles — 45% women — None of the winners are women
- Library Journal Best How-to — 23 titles — 39% women
- Atlantic Books of the Year — Top Five and Runners Up — 25 in total — 36% women
- Library Journal Best Books — 31 titles — 35% women
- NYT BR Notables — 100 titles — 32% women
- Amazon Top Ten Picture Books, Top Ten Middle Readers and Top Ten Teen — 30% women
- PW Best Books — 100 titles — 30% women — None of the Top Ten are women
- NYT Editors –Garner, Kakutani, Maslin — 30 titles total — 27% women
- Amazon Top 100 Editors Picks — 25% women; without YA and children’s titles, 20% women
Of the 28 titles that were picked by 3 or more of the above, seven are by women (25%):
- Byatt, A.S., Children’s Book — AZ #88, Atlantic Top Five, LJ Best Books
- Mantel, Hilary, Wolf Hall — AZ #3, Atlantic Runner Up, LJ Best Books, NYT BR Notable
- Moore, Lorrie, Gate at the Stairs — AZ #12, NYT BR Notable, NYT Kakutani
- Munro, Alice, Too Much Happiness — AZ #30, Atlantic Runners Up, NYT BR Notable
- Phillips, Jayne Anne, Lark and Termite — PW, NBA Fiction Finalist, LJ Best Books, NYT BR Notable, NYT Kakutani
- Reichl, Ruth, Gourmet Today — AZ #11, PW, LJ How-To
- Walbert, Kate, Short History of Women — AZ #45, LJ Best Books, NYT BR Notable
There should be more national best book lists coming, from the Washington Post and the L.A. Times (we’re hoping their reduced book sections will not prevent them from choosing the year’s bests), as well as Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, Horn Book and SLJ.