Monday, November 22, 2010

The Most Succinct Best-Of List

Ah, it’s that time again, when the “best books of the year" list becomes as much of a fixture as holiday shoppers and Thanksgiving Day floats. While there are a lot of fantastic, comprehensive lists floating around, I thought it might be interesting to see what the industry insiders had to say. I approached some of magazine and book publishing’s fearless leaders and the writers themselves to hear what they think stood out from this year’s offerings. Their picks run as wide a range as do the publications and agencies they work for. Since it’s 2010, I made the additional request that participants keep their answers to ten words or less—a restriction that didn’t take even an ounce of poetry or wisdom from their ever-charming answers.

Have a favorite of your own? Let us know!

Room by Emma Donoghue is chilling, mind-expanding, and heartrending. —Teddy Wayne, author of Kapitoil

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. The power chord meets Powerpoint. Awesome.—Jonathan Segura, Deputy Reviews Editor, Publishers Weekly

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. The funniest, most poignant, honest novel I’ve read in years. —Jessica Freeman-Slade, TK Reviews

Maira Kalman's And the Pursuit of Happiness: More than a book; I want to move into it. —Maggie Pouncey, author of Perfect Reader

Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City’s Lower East Side by Michael Codella and Bruce Bennett. Violent urban history—a rule-bending cop’s forthright memoir. —Ben Mathis-Lilley, editor of New York magazine’s Approval Matrix page

All the Living by C.E. Morgan. Aloma makes a home from grief, sex, tobacco & music. —Caitlin McKenna, The Melanie Jackson Agency

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. Linked stories are the new novel. —Zack Wagman, Associate Editor, Vintage Books

Edmund de Waal’s wonderful memoir, The Hare With Amber Eyes. A poignant memoir that reflects powerfully on art and history. —Jonathan Galassi, Publisher and President, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. Redefines the meaning of “armchair explorer.” —Hannah Wood, TK Reviews

The Passage by Justin Cronin. Viral outbreak. Blood-sucking humanoids. Society falls. Centuries pass. Then... —Jake Keyes, The New Yorker

Room by Emma Donoghue captures the truth of childhood: its innocent, joyous selfishness. —Millicent Bennett, Editor, Random House

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman. Intensely evocative of all things pleasurable, perfect summer reading. —Joey McGarvey, TK Reviews

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. Perfect for a girl with a crush on Kingsley Amis. —Alissa Kleinman, Permissions Associate, Knopf

A Visit from the Goon Squad
by Jennifer Egan. Stories coalesce into a poignant, po-mo, rock & roll novel. —Dana Liljegren, ICM

E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley. A novel full of perfect sentences. —Carmen Johnson, TK Reviews

Collected Stories by Lydia Davis. Jacket's Orange Creamsicle. Inside's smoother still. —Craig Walzer, Atlantis Books, Paravion Press Publisher

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. After reading Freedom, the Berglunds seem like unfortunate family friends. —Eric Fitzgerald, Contracts Associate, Crown

Paul Muldoon's Maggot: Such grit with such beautiful rhymes. —Evan Simko-Bednarski, Managing Editor, Armchair/Shotgun

The Possessed by Elif Batuman. Adventures with Russian Books! —Claire Kelley, TK Reviews

Bob Dylan In America by Sean Wilentz covers new ground with keen insight. —Chris Bloomfield, Atlantis Books, Paravion Press Publisher

Jess Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets. A Catch-22-esque portrait! —Miriam Kate Robinson, Promotions and Marketing, Foyles

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