Now that we’ve passed Thanksgiving, we’ve entered my absolute favorite time of the year. I’m not talking about the Christmas season which totally clogs New York streets with shoppers (though we love all the additional book sales!). It’s something much more magical than the holiday season: December means it’s officially time to rank things. And I looooove a good list.
Largehearted Boy has launched his annual Best-of compendium which includes lists as general as “Best of 2010” and as specific as “Best Hockey Coffee Table Books.” You just know there’s one hockey coffee table book out there that didn’t make the cut, and it’s author is pissed.
I haven’t started compiling my lists yet, though yes, I’m totally nerdy enough to do so. I can, however, easily pick my favorite novel, memoir, and YA novel of the year pretty easily. They are:
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: I just don’t understand how Egan does it. Each of her books feels like a revelation, and she gets away with things no one should be able to. 75 pages of this book are a Powerpoint presentation for gods’ sake! Goon Squad is funny, moving, and brilliant. It’s even a quick read!
Just Kids by Patti Smith: I do wonder if my reaction to this book is a bit biased. I love New York stories, and Smith transforms the city into a magical place filled with strange, wonderful, beautiful people. She romanticizes everything which could become grating in lesser hands, but to me just reveals a depth of spirit and wonder.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: Okay. I know that there are those who didn’t care for how the Hunger Games trilogy ended. I also know that when I last brought this up, there were those who balked that the series is a Battle Royale rip-off (though I’d argue that novel had its own direct antecedents). But here’s what I have to say: Collins took the trilogy down the darkest of all possible roads, showing us that even the strongest among us have our breaking points and that everyone will at times crumble. At the same time, she ended the series with just the right glimmer of hope—sometimes it’s enough just to believe there’s a reason to try. And that, to me, was beautiful.
So those are my three. And hey, they all happen to be by female authors. Take that, Michiko Kakutani.
Anyone else ready to disclose their top picks for the year?
UPDATE: In the time it took me to send this to Lauren to check for typos, I realized that there was another novel that I actually loved even more than the Egan this year. ROOM by Emma Donoghue was simply exceptional. Written in the voice of a five-year-old who has grown up imprisoned in a single room with his mother, it is a virtuoso feat of storytelling and voice. It’s simply mesmerizing. I haven’t cried as hard at a book in ages, but in the end it’s hugely uplifting and deeply special. But the Egan is still amazing!