4 December 13 | Chad W. Post

The only thing more rare than a Three Percent post praising—or at least, gently supporting—NPR is one heaping accolades on a publisher’s website. But, well, this is proof that anything is possible.

NPR, the World’s Greatest Source of Middle-minded Hem-Haw Opinions, is actually doing something bad-ass this year—foregoing year-end book lists:

You love lists. We love lists. Everyone loves lists. And in the past five years, NPR has brought you more than 80 year-end book lists — the best book club books, the best cookbooks, the best gift books, the best guilty pleasures. We listed. You clicked. Everyone was happy.

But as the holidays loomed this year, we were all suffering from a little list fatigue, and we started imagining new ways to approach our year-end best books coverage. And though Buzzfeed the Internet may be determined to prove otherwise, we wholeheartedly believe that human beings are capable of absorbing new information in formats that are 1) not sequentially ordered and 2) wait … dammit! and 3) never mind.

Double props for the Buzzfeed insult! Because fuck Buzzfeed. And seriously, they have ruined the idea of lists for everyone.

Instead of NPR’s typical year-end lists, they’ve come up with this discovery tool, which lists a couple hundred books that can be sub-divided into a number of categories. But unlike the normal list, books show up under more than one rubric creating a site that is “more Venn diagram-y than list-y — a site that could help you seek out the best biographies that were also love stories, or the best mysteries that were also set in the past.”

Triple props for invoking Venn diagrams.

I have to admit, this momentary respect I’m feeling for NPR is making me uncomfortable. And maybe a bit mentally aroused.

Thankfully, their selections are pretty much run-of-the-mill. Sure, Ogawa’s Revenge is included along with the new Daniel Alarcon, but Eggers’s The Circle? And that Kite Runner dude’s new book? BORING.

Well, at least we now know that you can take the list out of the Middle Mind, but not the Middle Mind out of the list Venn diagram. Or whatever.


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