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NBCC's Good Reads Winter List

The Winter List of the NBCC’s Good Reads program—where NBCC members recommend the best fiction, nonfiction, and poetry they’ve read recently—is now available online.

In addition to simply promoting this list, the NBCC is arranging 15 events in 15 cities to discuss this list and the recent NBCC nominations. These events really are taking place across the country, making it easier for non-New Yorkers to get involved.

Not a lot of translations on the list (by “not a lot” I mean one book), but it’s an interesting list:

Fiction

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

Nonfiction

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

Poetry

  1. *Elegy, by Mary Jo Bang (Graywolf)
  2. *Time and Materials, by Robert Hass (Ecco)
  3. *Gulf Music, by Robert Pinsky (FSG)
  4. *The Collected Poems, 1956–1998, by Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco)
  5. Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow (Harper)

My one criticism of this is that it’s functioning more like an NBCC best-seller list rather than a recommendation of the best books to read now. The eight titles with asterisks all appeared on the fall list, so less than half of these titles are “new” recommendations.

I have great hopes for this project—because NBCC is involved and its constituency is top notch—but I’d rather see a list of fifteen new books each time. Aren’t these the people who should be the most knowledgeable about the latest releases? I may be on my own here, but that’s what I’d like to find out about. After winning the NBA, getting truckloads of review praise, being on the fall Good Reads list, and everything else, what I don’t need is another recommendation for Tree of Smoke. I get it—it’s a book a lot of people like. I’ve moved on. . . .



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