Critics Picks, Top Ten Books of 2015

When it comes to best books lists, as we have noted often before, critics rarely agree. That’s made even more clear when comparing the various top ten lists.

Several new ones appeared at the end of last week:

People magazine Top Ten

Entertainment Weekly, “10 Best (And 5 Worst!) Books of 2015

New York Times daily critics — 10 each, selected by Dwight Garner, Michiko Kakutani and Janet Maslin

Rounding up the titles from a dozen Top Ten lists (downloadable spreadsheet —  2015 Best-Books-Top-Ten) reveals how many are unique picks:

66 — on no other Top Ten lists

26 — on no other Best Books lists

Among all the sources, the New York Times daily critic Janet Maslin picks the most unique titles (5), partly because she’s more appreciative of  popular genres and therefore is the only one to pick Don Winslow’s The Cartel (PRH/Knopf) and Dennis Lehane’s World Gone By (HarperCollins/Morrow).

Most of fellow daily NYT critic Michiko Kakutani’s picks are expected literary titles (Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child, Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire), with the intriguing exception of James Rebanks’s The Shepherd’s Life (Macmillan/Flatiron Books), which she describes as a “captivating book about the author’s small family sheep farm in the Lake District of England.”

Since unique picks may be a good place to make discoveries, we’ve created a downloadable spreadsheet of just the Top Ten Unique Picks.

For more on how to use these lists, PLA is offering a Webinar tomorrow with a title we can relate to, Attack of the “Best” Lists. Readers’ Advisory expert Becky Spratford will offer “practical advice on how to use ‘best’ lists to help patrons find their next great read, under the radar ‘best’ books for a wide range of readers, and plenty of readalike options.” NOTE; Open only to PLA personal members.

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