Archive for the ‘Best Books 2015’ Category

Best of the Best Fiction

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Several best books lists arrived this week, including the Washington Post‘s and Kirkus’s best 100 fiction list .

Now that there is a critical mass in fiction, we’ve collated the lists into one downloadable spreadsheet.Best Books, Fiction, 2015, V. 1 Use it to test your book knowledge, remind yourself of titles you wanted to read, create displays, and for end-of-the-year buying.

As we’ve learned to expect, there’s little agreement among critics. This year’s National Book Award winner in fiction, Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles, was picked by only two of the six other sources.

Watch for our upcoming collations of Nonfiction and Childrens picks and updates as more best books selections arrive. Links to the lists are on the right, under “Best Books.”

National Book Award Predictions

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Several Best Books list have just been released. Since the National Book Awards will be announced on Wednesday evening, we decided to use the lists to try to predict the winners in fiction and nonfiction.

Library Journal’s Best Books list was released late yesterday. It follows the Amazon Editors picks of 100 favorites of 2015 in ranked order, Oprah’s list of Top Ten Favories, and PW‘s picks of 150 Best Books.

We’ve compared the top ten from all of these sources on the downloadable spreadsheet below:

Best Books — Top Ten

Based on that, the winners will be:

between-the-world  furies

Nonfiction — Ta-Nehisi Coates, , Between the World and Me. (PRH/ Spiegel & Grau) — Picked by all four sources. The number 2 Amazon Editors Pick.

Fiction — Lauren Groff,  Fates and Furies (PRH/Riverhead Books) — The number 1 Amazon Editors Pick and in LJ’s top ten (but not in PW‘s Top Ten. In fact, PW is a holdout on this title, which isn’t among any of their other picks)

Note to those placing bets: this approach would not have worked last year. The fiction winner appeared on only one of these top ten lists and the nonfiction winner didn’t appear on any of them.

PW Picks: 150 Best Books of the Year

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Best Books season kicks into gear with 13-1Publishers Weekly‘s picks of the top titles of the 2015.

As in years past, the PW editors offer a Top 10 list and divide their remaining picks into 12 categories including Mystery/Thriller, Nonfiction, Picture Books, and YA, with a total of 150 titles.

9781555977078_af676Maggie Nelson is the cover author this year. PW says that her “vital, shape-shifting memoir … The Argonauts, shook up what we thought nonfiction writing could do.” PW has a good track record in identifying new talent on their Best Books covers. Last year’s cover person was Marlon James, who went on to win the Booker for
A Brief History of Seven Killings. The year before, it was Hanya Yanagihara, for her first novel, The People in the Trees. This year, she is a finalist for the National Book Awards for her second novel, A Little Life.

Arriving in a year when transgender issues have been in the spotlight, Nelson writes about becoming a mother at the same time her partner transitions from female to male. Published by the award-winning indie Minneapolis literary press Greywolf (distributed by Random House), which was described more pointedly as “tiny” in a profile by New York magazine earlier this year, it received strong critical attention this spring. Praising it, the L.A. Times described the book’s unusual style as “a loose yet intricate tapestry of memoir, art criticism and gentle polemic.”







Translated titles have a notoriously difficult time finding an audience in the U.S., but three of the top ten picks were originally published in other languages. The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian (Europa), is the final novel in a series that has moved from cult status to best seller. It is joined by two more under-the-radar titiles, the German translation, Imperium by Christian Kracht,(Macmillan/ FSG), and the Indonesian Beauty Is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan (New Directions).

Again this year, we will compile  downloadable spreadsheets of all the Best Books selections, useful for end-of-the year buying, as more lists are released.

The NYT BR Best Illustrated Books, 2015

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

A harbinger of the holidays, the New York Times Sunday Book Review‘s selection of the ten Best Illustrated Books of 2015 is available online today. It will appear in print in the upcoming issue.

9781452131566_350   9781554984312_5eb1e

9780670016525_38a6f   madameeiffel_en

The titles range  from several that have already received wide acclaim, such as Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett, illus. by Christian Robinson (Chronicle), and Sidewalk Flowers, JonArno Lawson illus. by Sydney Smith (Groundwood), to a couple of under-the-radar picks. Both of those are coincidentally, about the same famous Parisian edifice), Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower, Greg Pizzoli (Penguin/Viking Young Readers) and the only translated title on the list,  Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower, Alice Brière-Haquet, illus. by Csil  (Little Gestalten; 978-3899557558; Nov).

For a list of the titles, with ordering information, download our spreadsheet, NYT BR Best Illus. Books, 2015

Best Books of 2015 (So Far)

Friday, July 24th, 2015

A few years ago, Amazon decided to get a jump on best books lists with a mid-year “Best Books of the Year (So Far).” It had a noticeable effect on book sales, so the tradition has continued.

Others joined in and this year we have six lists (so far):

Amazon Editors

Book Riot


New York magazine


The Washington Post

As we’ve come to expect from the annual lists, there is little consensus and no title appears on all six. In fact, among the hundred plus titles chosen, only 18 get multiple mentions. 3 titles appear on three lists and the remaining 15 appear on two lists apiece.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.18.41 AM  9781476728742_a9b5d  Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.19.27 AM

Dead Wake by Erik Larson and The Wright Brothers by David McCullough are among the selections made by Amazon, Paste magazine, and The Washington Post while The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen is picked by Amazon, Flavorwire, and The Washington Post.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.21.33 AMSurprisingly, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which got enough buzz early on to make it a hot contender, is only chosen by two sources, Book Riot and The Washington Post. In a separate review titled “This is one of the best books of 2015. I’m not sure you should read it,” Alyssa Rosenberg explains that because of it’s “exceptionally graphic depictions of physical abuse, sexual abuse and self-harm … it’s one of the few pieces of art that I could be convinced deserves a content warning even for adult readers.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.21.51 AMBased on its award history and lengthy holds lists, the lack of more multiple picks for H is for Hawk is also a surprise. It only makes the cut by Amazon and The Washington Post. [Note: this book was recently discussed by Slate’s Audio Book Club).

All 18 titles that received more than one nod are listed here.


Amazon Editors:
Best Books of the Year (So Far)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Today the Amazon editors released their annual mid-year review, the Best Books of the Year So Far. In past years, the list has brought new attention to the titles picked (and, a benefit for Amazon, caused several of the titles move up their sales rankings).

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 7.40.38 AMThe editors’ top pick is Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk (Grove Press; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). We covered it extensively as it soared to #4 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction best seller list. It fell off just recently – Amazon’s attention may put it back on.

9781455599899_acfa2Nineteen other titles round out their top picks; including our Crystal Ball prediction and BEA fave, Saint Mazie (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), by Jami Attenberg.

Little surprise that big names such as Kristin Hannah and Olen Steinhauer appear, but it is nice to see so many debut authors selected. Just over half of the top titles are first works, including books by Aline OhanesianMary Norris and Lauren Acampora, whose book, The Wonder Garden (Grove, May) was a BEA Shout ‘n’ Share pick by Jen Dayton, Darien Public Library, who described it Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.22.38 AMas, ” Short stories that read like a novel. Each can stand alone, but you’ll be so intrigued by each character that you’ll want to read them all.”

The rest of Amazon’s picks are divided into sixteen subjects, including a timely top audiobook pick – the first unabridged US recording of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (Brilliance Audio, which is owned by Amazon) read by Scott Brick.