For the fourth year, I’m compiling the best-books-of-the-year lists from your favorite newspapers, magazines, websites, and other media–plus the major book awards–into one convenient, sortable spreadsheet. I’ll count up the votes from as many authoritative sources as I can find to give you the final word on which titles have been named “best” the most often.
The rules are simple: if the book is mentioned on an authoritative list, published for the first time or in a new edition in 2011, and that publication took place in the United States in English, I’ll compile it.
The spreadsheet has 11 category tabs: General Fiction, Crime and Thrillers, Speculative Fiction (SF, fantasy and horror), Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult Fiction, Poetry, Graphic Works, Narrative Nonfiction, Biographies & Memoirs, and Instructional (How-to, Cooking, Art, etc.) Nonfiction. Each compiled list gives the title, author, and in the case of nonfiction, call number at WRL where the book can be found if we have it in our collection. It also shows, using alphanumeric codes, each source that named the book as a “best of the year.” This compilation includes not only sources that focus on literary fiction, but on the lists of genre experts and subject specialists to get the widest possible view. The final tab in the spreadsheet shows all of the sources compiled into the list with their alphanumeric codes and provides links to the place on the Internet where that source’s list was posted.
Those who have used my compiled lists in the past know that my definition of genre categories tends to be broad. If you don’t find a book in one list, it might appear in another. The list is available as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet, and sorting and re-purposing of the list is welcomed if Williamsburg Regional Library and Neil Hollands are cited.
While I realize that merely counting votes is no absolute test of the quality of a book, and that some very good books will get very few votes, the compilation is still an entertaining way to synthesize all of those dozens of awards lists. You probably don’t have time to read them all, so I’ll do the work for you and show you the results here.
That said, here’s the first edition of 2011’s ABBC (All the Best Books Compilation). So far, the sources compiled are About.com, Amazon, Austin Public Library, BookPage, The Economist, GoodReads Choice Awards, Hudson Booksellers, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, the National Book Awards, the New York Times, NPR, Salon, School Library Journal and Time Magazine. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll post new editions about every two weeks until I’ve compiled well over 150 sources. Keep checking back with us to see which books are the final winners and how many votes go to your favorite underdogs. For analysis of the results, visit my other blogging home, Booklist magazine’s Book Group Buzz, where I’ll look at the top entries in each category over time. My thanks to the Reader’s Advisor Online Blog and Largehearted Boy for collecting links to many of the referenced lists and thus making my job of compilation a little easier.
You can also see the compiled lists from 2008, 2009, and 2010 here.