Best of Lists

Trophy.‘Tis the season for publishers, booksellers, and reviewers everywhere to announce their “best of” lists. From Amazon to the New York Times  to Publishers Weekly, everyone seems to have an opinion on the best books of 2014.

I’m too indecisive to ever come up with a list like this. First, should the list be based solely on my opinion, or should there be a more objective way to judge prospective titles? There are books that people have raved about — books that have appeared on multiple “best of” lists — that just didn’t do it for me. For some of these, I recognize the author’s talent, but the story wasn’t for me, or I wasn’t in the mood for that type of book when I read it. (So subjective, I know, but if I had to describe publishing in one word, that would be it.) But should those books that were good but not right for me make the list?

Even if I based my list strictly on my own opinions, I would have trouble deciding what to put on it. A book that I loved two months ago might not make the list because I’m not in the mood for that genre right now. Or maybe I got burned out on a genre and forgot how great one book was because I read five others that were similar and just okay. This is why I don’t like being asked what my favorite book is. The answer is constantly changing.

Finally, there’s the matter of recognition. Sometimes I’ll promote a book more heavily if I think it’s not getting the love it deserves. I know “best of” lists are supposed to be the cream of the crop, but if there are two books I liked equally as much, and one has been getting a lot more buzz than the other, I’d be inclined to choose the less-known book for my own list. Is that doing the more popular book an injustice?

Bottom line: I’m not even going to try to come up with a “best of” list. Instead, I’m going to ask what you’d put on one. What are some of the best books you’ve read in 2014? Please share in the comments!

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