NPR’s Book Concierge


The staff of NPR are major books fans, from those whose specific focus is books, like Fresh Air‘s book critic Maureen Corrigan to those with broader beats, such Edith Chapin, executive editor for NPR News.

Drawing on that enthusiasm, NPR again this year features the Book Concierge app, with staff recommendations of 250 titles, complete with filters to focus on particular interests (as specific as a Graphic Novel for Music Lovers).

On Fresh Air, Maureen Corrigan talks about her eleven picks. She is not a fan of some of the “big books” of the year, including critical favorite Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Jonathan Franzen’s literally big 500-plus page Purity or Garth Risk Hallberg’s even bigger City on Fire.

The rest of the NPR staff generally agree. The first two titles are not included in the app, although the latter is. Weekend Edition staffer Barrie Hardymon sidesteps whether City on Fire was worth its $2 million advance, but declares, “I can assure you that it is certainly worth reading all 944 pages. Hallberg is incapable of writing a boring sentence, and the story, set in 1977 New York City, has multiple narrators and myriad threads — but each piece fits together so tightly, you’ll actually want to read to the end to see how the whole picture develops.”

9780316337069_045d6Corrigan says that this year, she prefers smaller bites,”Short stories and fragmented, intense memoirs dominate my best books list, along with the incredible true story of a short-haired dog.”

That book is Robert Weintraub’s No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII.

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