More lists! This time, it’s books. Amazingly, the overlap of favored titles is not extensive.

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The year’s top books as chosen by the New York Times:

Fiction

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, by Maile Meloy
Chronic City, by Jonathan Lethem
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore
Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls
A Short History of Women, by Kate Walbert

Non-fiction

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, by Richard Holmes
The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel
Lit: A Memoir, by Mary Karr
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, by Liaquat Ahamed
Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life, by Carol Sklenicka

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Maureen Corrigan does book reviews on NPR. I am always interested in what she has to say even though I don’t always align with her tastes.

Here is her list for best books of the year:

Fiction

The Believers, by Zoe Heller
Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore
The Man in the Wooden Hat, by Jane Gardam
The Financial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter

Non-Fiction

Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story, by Isabel Gillies
The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience, by Kirstin Downey
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin
Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, by Morris Dickstein

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From Publisher’s Weekly:

Fiction

The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly
The Fate of Katherine Carr, Thomas H. Cook
Spooner, Pete Dexter
Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
The Man in the Wooden Hat, Jane Gardam
Ravens, George Dawes Green
Tinkers, Paul Harding
The Believers, Zoë Heller
The Vagrants, Yiyun Li
How to Sell, Clancy Martin
New World Monkeys, Nancy Mauro
The Last War, Ana Menendez
Nemesis, Jo Nesbø
Lark and Termite, Jayne Anne Phillips
The Cry of the Sloth, Sam Savage
Drood, Dan Simmons
Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters
Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead
Once the Shore, Paul Yoon

Non-fiction

Cheever: A Life, Blake Bailey
Await Your Reply, Dan Chaon
A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon, by Neil Sheehan
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin
Big Machine, Victor LaValle
The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Richard Holmes
Stitches, David Small
Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew B. Crawford
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, Geoff Dyer
Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, David Grann

Poetry

Chronic, D.A. Powell
Museum of Accidents, Rachel Zucker
The Bitter Withy, Donald Revell
The Collected Poems of C.P. Cavafy, Trans. from the Greek by Daniel Mendelsohn
Upgraded to Serious, Heather McHugh

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And finally here is a list that is closer to home. My highly literary friends Michael and Mary Pat send their list of the year’s favorite reads as part of their holiday letter. I have come to rely on their recommendations as consistently on the mark.

Happens Every Day, by Isabel Gillies
(“File under ‘Guilty Pleasures’…but Gillies turns out to be an absolutely terrific writer.”)

Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz
(“Perhaps more than you want to know about Ivy League admissions, but full of local color and a fun read.”)

A Mercy, by Toni Morrison
(“A brief, somber powerful novel”)

Stone’s Fall, by Iain Pears
(We’ve been hooked on Pears’s historical fiction since reading An Instance of the Fingerpost…Stone’s Fall is an intricately plotted thriller”)

Home, by Marilynne Robinson
(“As quiet and moving as Gilead“)

A Paradise Built in Hell, by Rebecca Solnit
(“An extraordinary, profound, and beautiful book…This year’s if-you-read-only-one-book-on-the-list pick”)

So far I’ve only read four of the books on these lists. Here’s to catching up during the cold winter months.

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