… end-of-the-year lists. I mean, it’s pretty bad. Just ask any of my friends on Facebook.
In my 45 or so years of reading, I have discovered wonderful, wonderful books from simply browsing the shelves of a library or bookstore (hello, The Wump World or anything else by Bill Peet?! or Heather Hansen’s Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears: 100 Years of the National Park Service), but by and large I read books that are recommended to me. My wife, Mrs. V-K, is a voracious reader and often recommends her goodreads to me, as do friends, siblings and coworkers. Then there’s the reviews from the New York Times Book Review, the SF Chronicle pink section, School Library Journal, etc. I sometimes find it very difficult to keep up and feel “librarian shame,” 😉 realizing that I don’t know the most recent releases, much less the authors’ names or their other works.
Thus comes the great pleasure I get from end-of-the-year lists. I make a mental must-read list after perusing the National Book Award longlist, the Man Booker Prize longlist, the ALA’s Carnegie Medal longlists and the AASL’s Printz Book Award lists. “OK,” I tell myself, “these are the books the bookish powers-that-be tell me I should know.” Then I read as many of the the top 10, top 47, and top 100 lists I can trip over. (OK, I made up the top 47 idea…I haven’t really seen one of those yet.) So far I’ve looked over the NPR list, Literary Hub’s top 35, and the NY Times’ top 100 notable books of 2016, among others. A lot of the same books make many of the lists. No doubt they are very good and worth reading, but I’d bet there are dozens, if not hundreds of books written each year that never make their way to one of these lists but that will speak to your mind or heart as well as the ones getting all the press. Here’s to all who had the grit and passion to write and publish in 2016!
If you’d like, you can add to my librarian shame by mentioning an important list that I haven’t mentioned here. What the heck, just heap it on! When it comes to best-of lists, I’ll trade the shame for the pleasure of seeing another take on the best books of 2016.
Oh yeah, and then there are all the music and media lists … oh, to be Wump, if Wumps could wead…
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