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Sunday, November 1, 2015

One Year, Ten Favorites, Three Surprises

While recently compiling a requested list of ten favorite books finished over the past year, it suddenly dawned on me why these lists usually bedevil me - the requested parameters are often not narrow enough. I raced through this recent request because deciding on ten top books from a single year is cake compared to the dreaded but oft-requested "all time favorite" list of books, recordings, or films. And when a requester combines the "all time" nonsense with a large number, my head throbs. Those "1001 (fill in the blank) You Must (Read, Hear, See, Visit, Eat, Genuflect To) Before You Die" books all have a team of contributors, for crying out loud. Have mercy on an approval-seeking, semi-obsessive list making, takes-requests-like-this-way-too-serious solo blogger, I want to cry.

Do any of your lists ever have titles? If yes, read on. If no, this might be a good time to sign off the bell curve. This latest list of mine - and remember, it was requested - is called "Top Ten: 11/1/14 - 10/31/15". Six of the titles came to me without even glancing at my book journal, a sure sign a book is destined to stay with me; for the remaining four I consulted my journal. Surprise #1: Only one non-fiction title made the list - "The Secret History Of Wonder Woman" (Jill Lepore). Also, aside from Colm Toibin - whose luminous "Nora Webster" is one of the nine novels - all the other authors are new to me. That partially explains surprise #2:  All ten books are 21st century titles; the oldest on the list is "Home" (2008) by Marilyne Robinson.

Surprise #3: "The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox" (Maggie O'Farrell) did not make the top ten for this period. Considering how O'Farrell's book moved me, this was obviously a good year. Please don't spoil the pleasure and closure I derived from this narrowly delineated assignment by asking which of the ten is my favorite, OK?

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