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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Monday, February 11, 2008 12:26 pm
These Good Reads come Best Recommended
Posted by: Keir Graff

Trying to catch up on a few older items today. The National Book Critics Circle’s “Best Recommended” list is now “Good Reads“–but the new list is still susceptible to some of the same old criticisms, capably voiced by Ron Hogan on Galleycat:

If you were ever truly fascinated by what a cluster of people “from Annie Proulx to Jonathan Franzen” were reading, well, now you know. Feel particularly moved to buy any of those books now?

And the worst thing is you should, since the books are all perfectly good books, some of them even great books. But a list created by committee that doesn’t even offer a capsule description of its contents, or even a one-line blurb, just isn’t the same as a genuinely passionate recommendation from someone whose judgment you trust.

Like Hogan, I think the list is a decent idea–just one that needs some refinement.

Fiction

Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson (Farrar)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz (Riverhead)
Diary of a Bad Year, by J. M. Coetzee  (Viking)
People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)
Zeroville, by Steve Erickson (Europa)

Nonfiction

The Rest Is Noise, by Alex Ross (FSG)
Brother, I’m Dying, by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)
In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan (Penguin)
Musicophilia, by Oliver Sacks (Knopf)
The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein (Metropolitan)

Poetry

Elegy, by Mary Jo Bang (Graywolf)
Time and Materials, by Robert Hass (Ecco)
Gulf Music, by Robert Pinsky (FSG)
The Collected Poems, 1956-1998, by Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco)
Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow (Harper)


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