Archive for the ‘Best Books 2016’ Category

Best Books, SLJ

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

slj_dec2016_cover_300w School Library Journal has posted their editors’ selections of the best Picture Books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade and YA books of the year in an online slide show.

The list includes 66 titles.

Coincidentally (the editors SWEAR it’s a coincidence), SLJ published its first best books list 66 years ago.




the Year’s Best Books

Friday, November 18th, 2016


The Washington Post has released their list of the 100 best books of 2016, as well as the top 10 that they find “exceptionally rewarding,” accompanied by a tasty illustration (above).

The National Book Award winner for fiction, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, is among the top ten, as well as one of the finalists for the award, Paulette Jiles’s News of the World.

However, it’s the titles that have not yet appeared on other lists that are the most interesting, such as Hisham Matar’s The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between. (PRH/Random House; OverDrive Sample). About the author’s father, a Libyan dissident who was kidnapped and imprisioned when Matar was 19, it is described as “an elegy by a son who, through his eloquence, defies the men who wanted to erase his father and gifts him with a kind of immortality.”


Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Underground Railroad  Wolf Road

The Amazon Editors have selected Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOTOverDrive Sample) as the best book of the year.

Given the acclaim it has already received, that’s no surprise, but the #2 title is a less well-known debut novel,  The Wolf Road (PRH/Crown; Recorded Books) by British author Beth Lewis, described as “a brilliant amalgam of literary thriller and gritty western,” featuring a young main character who displays “Inner fire, honest vulnerability, and an endearing sense of humor.” It was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal in September, under yet a different genre, as one of two “Best New Science Fiction” titles.

The Underground Railroad was also selected as the #1 title for the year by Publishers Weekly and is a finalist for the National Book Awards in fiction. The winner will be announced tomorrow night.

PW Picks the 150
Best Books of the Year

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Best Books season starts off with 15-1Publishers Weekly‘s picks of the top titles of 2016.

The author featured on the cover is sure to top most best books lists this year, Colson Whitehead, for  The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample). PW calls it a “stunning novel … [that] depicts one of America’s darkest moments in a new light. ”

As in past years, the PW editors select a total of 100 adult titles and 50 childrens titles, with a Top 10 list and the remaining picks divided into 12 categories.

Underground Railroad  9780375423222_1e3b7

Whitehead’s novel is also one of the finalists for the National Book Awards, to be announced next week, Wed., Nov. 16. (this year, you can download ballots. Oscar style, for making your own predictions). Surprisingly, none of the other four fiction finalists are on PW’s  Top Ten, or picked in any of the other fiction categories.

In nonfiction, Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (PRH/Pantheon; OverDrive Sample) is both an NBA shortlist title and one of PW’s top ten. All the titles on the NBA’s shortlist for Young People’s Literature are among PW’s picks in childrens. YA, or Graphic Novel picks, except for  Grace Lin’s When the Sea Turned to Silver (Hachette/ Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) . There is absolutely no crossover between the lists in poetry.

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.

Mid-Year Review, Now Everyone’s Doing Them

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Best of the year lists must be good for book sales. After doing a single annual list for many years, the Amazon Editors added a second, mid-year review of “Best Books so Far” a few years ago. As the Seattle Times writes in a a story about the Amazon Book Review and its editors, “The ultimate aim [of the best books lists], after all, is to sell books.” While the article also claims that the impact of the picks is hard to measure, there is at least one yardstick, whether the books rise on Amazon’s sales rankings (not to mention the multitude of metrics that Amazon’s tech gurus do not make public. You can’t help but feel the editors are very aware of how well their choices do).

The top title on this year’s midyear list, Top 20 Picks of the Best Books of the Year So Far, did indeed move up Amazon’s sales rankings. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren was in the 600’s, after hitting a high of #13 when it was released in April. The Amazon pick brought it back up in to the 200’s.

This year, several other publications, those with a less vested interest, have followed the trend of mid-year reviews, including Entertainment Weekly (best fiction and nonfiction, ranked lists of ten titles each), New York Magazine (ten titles) and Time (eighteen titles).

Many of these titles became best sellers, but the lists are helpful for discovering overlooked gems that could use a circulation boost.

Across the four lists, 51 separate titles got nods. No title made all four.

9781101874936_543cb  The Gene  9780812998603_dba8f

Three books are the clear consensus winners, selected by three of the four list makers:

  • The Gene: An Intimate History, Siddhartha Mukherjee (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) (Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, Time)
  • The Girls by Emma Cline (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample). (Amazon, Entertainment Weekly’s #1 fiction pick, NY Magazine)

Eleven other titles made two of the four lists.

Amazon and Entertainment Weekly selected:

9780553447439_20f4e 9780393245448_edfdd 9780062277022_273d5 When Breath

Amazon and Time selected:

9780062200631_20c73  9780812993509_10bb2

Entertainment Weekly and Time selected:

9781101875940_773b1  9780553448184_7d89f

NY Magazine and Time selected:

9780525429630_90737  9781594634635_4748d

Many of these titles received media attention when they hit shelves and in the months following. For example, Lab Girl got a rave review from NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani and was the focus of a Slate “Audio Book Club” feature; The Girls was a #1 Indie Next selection and a top summer reading pick and is currently a best seller; and The Vegetarian won the Man Booker International award.

See our catalog for a running list of all mid-year picks. Links to each of the round-ups are in the column to the right (replacing the Summer Preview links).