Saturday, November 28, 2009
Unforgettable Books for Those You Remember
By Janet Maslin
Published New York Times, November 26, 2009
There’s a good reason why the three daily book critics for The New York Times don’t make 10-best lists at the end of the year: we can’t. None of us has read everything. Our reviewing assignments don’t overlap. None of us has an objective overview of the year’s best and most important books, but this is what we do have: favorites. They are books we have not only admired in the abstract but also enjoyed, recommended and given to friends.
More 2009 favorites from The New York Times Critics and the Book Review.
The selections on our 10-book lists winnow down a wide array of possibilities. Of the tens of thousands of books published each year, the daily Times reviews only about 250. Each of us chose his or her share of those titles for review. Now Michiko Kakutani, Dwight Garner and I further narrow down those choices, and each of us can tell you which 10 books we’ll remember best.
We’ve seen certain patterns emerging. It’s been a bit of an off year, and the must-read milestones have been rare. There are fewer towering histories and biographies than usual. There’s more attention to a subject of newly urgent interest: finance. And if it’s been a disappointing year for certain major novelists, it has also brought a couple of unexpected, career-capping accomplishments from fiction writers in the mainstream.
A note about omissions:
Because the daily reviewers for The Times do not cover books by other staff writers, our colleagues’ work is not represented here. (We would put “Blues & Chaos,” a collection of music writing by the former Times music critic Robert Palmer, on one of our lists if we could.) To avoid potential conflicts of interest, some books have been reviewed by freelance writers; those aren’t on our lists either. Here are the favorites we found:
Michiko Kakutani »
Janet Maslin »
Dwight Garner »