As a confessed lover of lists, I look forward to the end-of-year “Best Of ______” lists offered by the media at the end of each year, especially the book lists. As we made the long drive home from the Florida beaches last weekend, I delayed a much-needed rest stop so that I could hear NPR’s choices, which you can access from their “Book Concierge” page. Goodreads, Time magazine, The Washington Post, and many others featured favorite books as well. As I listened to or perused the selections, my responses fell into three categories.
- Pleasure/anticipation. These are the books that immediately found a spot on my Amazon Wish List. I can’t wait to read The Mare by Mary Gaitskill.
- Guilt. These are the books that I should have read by now, but haven’t, including All the Light We Cannot See. This section also includes books that I shouldn’t want to read, but actually do, like The Truth About Twinkie Pie. I will also once again almost certainly break my no-more-cookbooks resolution by buying more cookbooks, compounding the guilt by failing to make any of the recipes contained therein. Yes, food porn is a real thing.
- Defiance. Why, no, I will not read your dark, depressing book about a threatening and insoluble world problem or another memoir of man’s horrid inhumanity. And I will not read any book that I can’t make sense of, no matter how critically acclaimed. Life is just too short. My rule, poached from some wiser person to whom I can’t give credit, is that I need only read 100 pages minus my age. So it better grab me in 39 pages, or I’m out. Sorry, City of Thorns. I was riveted by the interview on NPR, but I can’t face the book.
What about you? Do you read the book lists? Do they influence your choices? Do you “talk back” to the lists? What about your own list of the best of 2015…I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours.