Archive for the ‘Best Books 2015’ Category

THE FOOD LAB On The Rise – Again

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

9780393081084_5fb39The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (W. W. Norton, 2015; OverDrive Sample) was a New York Times bestseller when it came out last year. It was also considered one of the best cookbooks of the year by both LJ and Amazon.

Gaining renewed attention, it moved up Amazon’s sales ranking from just outside the top 100 to #4.

The author tweeted he would be on The Chew yesterday:

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.42.22 PM

The show did not post the video, but they did post his recipe.

Holds are still strong in libraries we checked.

Janus Turns His Head

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Now that the best books of 2015 are winding down (USA Today posted their top ten list just under the wire yesterday), the media is turning its attention to predictions for 2016.

The Washington Post looks ahead to books coming out through May, several of which, such as Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, (PRH/Random House, April; eGalleys available), have received recommendations from GalleyChatters. Expected names include titles by Don DeLillo, Chris Bohjalian, Louise Erdrich and Stephen King.

9781594634673_84c55 9781501124372_63201

Authors following up breakout successes include Chris Cleave whose Little Bee was a #1 best seller in 2009. His next book, Everyone Brave is Forgiven (S&S, May; eGalleys available for download now) is a novel set in WWII London. Emma Straub follows the 2014 summer reading hit, The Vacationers, with Modern Lovers (PRH/Riverhead), about three college friends now facing their fifties.

Best Books, Childrens and YA, Updated

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

The final critics picks of best kids and YA books are now in and we can declare which lists are the longest and which are have the most unique selections.

Below are the recently added lists:

Booklist  — 53 picks

Entertainment Weekly Best Kids Books (Not available online) — 6 picks (for more on this list, see our earlier post, A Favorite Best Picture Books List)

Huffington Post  — 21 picks

Kirkus — Teen —  50 picks

Time Magazine Top Ten YA & Childrens  — 10 picks

The Wall Street Journal —  10 picks

We’ve added these titles to our downloadable spreadsheet, bringing the list to 285 titles:

2015 Best Books Chikdrebs & YA, V. 3

The most number of selections, by a long shot, comes from Kirkus, with 160 total titles. Given that number, it’s no surprise that it’s also the list with the most unique selections, 97 titles. However, it’s also the most in terms of percentage; 60% of the entire list.

The next closest in terms of percentage is Time magazine’s, but on  a much shorter list. Of their ten picks, half of were single picks:

David Levithan,  Hold Me Closer, (Penguin/Dutton) Time, #5

Eric Carle, The Nonsense ShowTime, #6

Michelle Cuevas,  Confessions of an Imaginary Friend (Penguin/Dial) Time, #7

Juman Malouf, The Trilogy of Two (Penguin/Putnam) — Time, #8

Dr Seuss, What Pet Should I Get? (Random Houae) — Time, #9


A Favorite Best Picture Books List

Friday, December 18th, 2015

last-stop-market village-by-sea

We’re missing Lisa Von Drasek’s annual lists of Books To Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well (she is on hiatus as our EarlyWord Kids Correspondent while she serves on the 2017 Caldecott Award Selection Committee).

As a substitute, Lisa suggests Minh Le’s thoughtful selections and annotations in the Huffington Post‘s Best Picture Books of 2015.

Le’s top pick is Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, ill. by Christian Robinson (Penguin/Putnam YR), which he praises for its “generosity of spirit …Through de la Peña’s deft narrative and Robinson’s timeless illustrations, Last Stop on Market Street invites readers to train their imaginative powers on the real world in order to see more deeply and with greater compassion.”

Listed as the “Best Surprise” of the year is In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van, ill. April Chu (Creston, dist. by Perseus). Says Le, “At first glance, In a Village by the Sea appears to be a straightforward story about family, but Van’s clever nesting doll narrative and Chu’s playful illustration sprinkle the story with a healthy dusting of magic and surprise.”

Le writes on his blog that this has been a “stellar year for picture books.” We’re hoping next year proves the same, offering Lisa and the entire Caldecott committee many more to choose from.

We have added the titles from this list to our updated downloadable spreadsheet compiling the 2015 Childrens and YA Best Books.

#Libfaves15 – The Votes are In!

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

NOTE: Five years ago, our GalleyChatter columnist, Robin Beerbower along with Stephanie Chase and Linda Johns, began the annual #LibFaves project, an opportunity for librarians to tweet their favorite titles of the year. Since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Below is Robin’s roundup of the year’s titles.

Thanks also to the those who helped with the vote counting, Janet Lockhart, Vicki Nesting, Melissa Samora, Gregg Winsor, Robin Nesbitt, Andrienne Cruz, and Joe Jones.

For the past ten days, librarians have been doing their own year-end roundup of the best books by tweeting their favorites. The votes have now been tallied and EarlyWord can exclusively announce the results (eat your heart out, Entertainment Weekly!).

There were over 1,100 total votes for over 650 titles, just another indicator of how widely librarians read. As opposed to other best books lists, the titles on this list reflect librarians’ appreciation for the genres, particularly fantasy, science fiction, teen titles, and graphic novels.

Top Three Titles

between-the-world  The Girl on the Train  9780804179034_f4113

It’s probably no surprise that the National Book Award winner for nonfiction Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America by Ta-Nahisi Coates (Penguin Random House/Spiegel & Grau) was most loved by librarians and library staff.

Following right behind it were two books that tied for second place. Paula Hawkins’ psychological suspense novel The Girl on the Train (RH/Riverhead), a book librarians embraced early on and the number one LibraryReads Favorite of Favorites, and Naomi Novik’s adult fairy tale, Uprooted (Del Rey/RH), received the same number of votes.

The Rest of the Best

But the real fun of exploring this list is the amazing range of titles in a variety of genres (how many have you even heard of, yet alone read?). To round out the top books receiving lots of librarian love, here are the next seven on the list:

4. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman/Penguin)

5. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Tor/Macmillan)

6. (tie) The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (Grand Central/Hachette) and The Slade House by David Mitchell (RH)

8. Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel series) (Boom! Box/Simon & Schuster)

9. (tie) Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead/PRH) and Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari (Penguin)

We urge you to take a look at  the full list to make your own discoveries (please let us know about them in the comments section); #LibFaves15 — Full List

Best Books Lists, 2015, UPDATES

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

We are getting close to the wrap up of the Best Books list of 2015.

Today, Booklist released their picks, with a bit of a grumble from Editor Keir Graff that “The rush to be first has caused some of our competitors to release their year’s-best lists even earlier this year.”

We’ve also noticed lists coming earlier and earlier each year. We remember a day when Booklist didn’t release theirs until beginning of the new year.

Still to come are the various ALA lists, but this wraps up the critics picks.

Below are our updated downloadable spreadsheets compiling the adult lists.Llook for our Childrens and YA by the end of the week.

2015 Best Books Fiction – V3

2015 Best Books Nonfiction, V3

2015 Best Books Poetry V2


Critics Picks, Top Ten Books of 2015

Tuesday, December 15th, 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.

Favorite 2015 Books; The President Gets Into the Act

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

It seems everyone is naming their favorite books of 2015.

President Obama in an interview with People magazine, says his favorite is a novel that is on many best books lists, a finalist for the National Book Award but not the winner, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies.

The title is absent from one significant Top Ten list. While the New York Times listed it as one of their 100 Notable Books, it was shut out of the Top Ten. In the “Inside the NYT Book Review” podcast this week, the editors discuss their battles over the selections and reveal that one of the editor fought to include the title, but ultimately lost.

Michelle Obama’s favorite book? Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir, The Light of the World, which appeared on neither of the NYT lists.

Tweet Your Favorite 2015 Titles

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

From EarlyWord‘s GalleyChatter columnist, Robin Beerbower:

Librarians are tweeting their favorite titles of the year in a countdown that ends on Wednesday, December 16. It’s not too late to join in.

The rules are simple:

Count down your top 10 fave books of 2015 (adult and youth), one per day. TITLE in caps w/ author, tag #libfaves15.

If you haven’t started yet, you can “cheat” and tweet your #10 through #8 picks today and pick up with #7 tomorrow.

Participants are encouraged to submit titles published in 2015. The top ten titles will be announced here on Thursday, December 17, with a link to the final spreadsheet.

At this point over 220 titles with over 270 votes have been received, with Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins barreling along at top speed, but there’s also plenty of love for Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble, David Mitchell’s Slade House and the teen book All the Rage by Courtney Summers, along with a higher number of graphic novels than were submitted last year. Will these titles continue to collect nods from librarians? Check back on December 17 to find out.

We’ve Storified the 387 tweets through this this afternoon (scroll through them, not only for title recommendations, but to see how creatively librarians use 140 characters or fewer).

NPR’s Book Concierge

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015


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.

Best Books, Nonfiction, 2015

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Kirkus released their picks of the 100 best nonfiction titles of the year on Monday, and we have updated our downloadable spreadsheet with their picks, raising the total to 252 titles.

For information on upcoming titles, and to sign up for the program, click here.

There continues to be very little consensus among the critics, with only 24 titles picked by 3 or more sources, which  makes the two front-runners all the more remarkable for being selected by 9 of the 11 sources.

between-the-world H is for Hawk

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates (RH/Spiegel & Grau; OverDrive Sample)
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Grove Press; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) — Time magazine selects this as the number one of the year’s Ten Best Nonfiction. Coates’s book is also on the list, but further down, at #9.

NYT Book Review’s Top Ten

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Following the release of their selection of the 100 Notable Books of 2015, the New York Times Book Review today announces which are in the Top 10.

Several other sources have picked some of the titles, such as The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions), the last in the series of novels that have quickly risen from cult favorites to universally recognized and, in nonfiction, the National Book Award Winner, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (RH/Spiegel & Grau).

But, amazingly, given the numerous  Best Books picks to date, the NYT Book Review still managed to include three titles in their top ten that were not picked by any other sources, proving once again how difficult it is for critics to agree:

Outline: A Novel, Rachel Cusk, (PRH/FSG)

The Door, Magda Szabo, (NYRB Classics)

Empire of Cotton: A Global History, Sven Beckert, (PRH/Knopf; HighBridge Audio)

Top Best Books 2015,
Middle Grade and Picture Books

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Three new childrens best books list have been released since our last roundup, the New York Times Book Review‘s Notable Childrens Books (25 titles), Horn Book Fanfare 2015 (25 titles), and Kirkus Middle Grade (50 titles). Below is the updated downloadable spreadsheet:

2015 Best Books Childrns and YA V2

With selections from six review sources, we can now assess the leading titles by number of picks in the Middle Grade and Picture Books categories (we’ll be able to assess YA when Kirkus releases their Teen picks on Dec. 14).

There’s very little agreement among the critics. Of the 217 titles, none were picked by all of the sources and over 86% were picked by two or fewer.

In Middle Grade titles, two of the finalists for the National Book Award were also hits with review editors, picked by 5 of the 6 sources (the Award winner, Brendan Shusterman’s Challenger Deep, a YA title, was picked by 3 sources).

In Picture Books, there is total disagreement between the New York Time Book Review’s Best Illustrated judges and the editors, as demonstarted by thier choices of the Most Notable Picture Books. None of the titles appear on both lists.

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Middle Grade Leaders

Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish (Hachette/Little, Brown) — The Amazon’s editors rated this National Book Award Finalist as not only a Top Childrens Book, but one of the Top 100 overall. It was also picked by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and the New York Times Book Review, which calls it, “A shattering debut novel about a grieving, lonely girl, stung by the treachery of middle-school social alliances, who tries to use the scientific method to explain her former best friend’s death by drowning.”

Steve Sheinkin, Most Dangerous, (Macmillan/Roaring Brook) — In addition to being a National Book Award Finalist, this title also received 5 more picks. The NYT  BR calls it, “A riveting and remarkably effective account of Ellsberg’s life, his release of the Pentagon Papers and America’s tragic history in Vietnam.”

Rebecca Stead, Goodbye Stranger (RH/Wendy Lamb) — Five picks, including the NYT BR, “A seventh grader recovering from a near-fatal accident navigates changes in herself and her tight group of friends in this moving novel, which our reviewer, Meg Wolitzer, called ‘masterly.”

Victoria Jamieson, Roller Girl (Penguin/Dial) — Five picks. Says the NYT BR, “In this spiky, winning graphic novel, a summer at roller-derby day camp helps a 12-year-old girl learn to rechannel her anger and let go of her former, more uncertain self.”

Leading Picture Books


Kevin Henkes  Waiting (HarperCollins/Greenwillow) — Six picks, including the NYT BR Notable, (but not the NYT BR Best Illustrated);  “Five toys wait on a window ledge, each for something different, in this profound and beautiful take on patience and perspective from the matchless Henkes.”

JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith,  Sidewalk Flowers (Groundwood) — Five picks, including the NYT BR Best Illustrated (but not the NYT BR Notable).

NYT BR Best Books Picks

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

NYT Book Review, Best Books, 2015

The Dec. 6 “Holiday Books” issue of the New York Times Book Review is nearly 100 pages long, filled with roundups from photography books to books about Hollywood, full-page ads, and the annual editors’ picks of 100 Notable Books (47 fiction, 3 poetry and 50 nonfiction titles) and Notable Children Books (25 titles).

Today, LibraryReads released a list of the “Favorites of Favorites,” titles most loved by librarians this year.

Below are our downloadable lists of all the adult best books selections to date:

2015 Best-Books-Fiction–V2

2015 Best-Books-Nonfiction–V1

2015 Best Books Poetry V1

Watch for our updated Childrens and YA list next.

Best Books 2015, Kids and YA

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

School Library Journal ‘s editors unveiled their best books picks on Monday, 63 titles in all.

We’ve collated all the selections to date into one downloadable spreadsheet (the four titles with the most selections, above(:

Best Books, Childrens and YA, 2015

Updates to come as new lists are released. Also available is our collation of the Best Adult Fiction. Coming soon, Best Adult Nonfiction.