Is it just me, or are there more of these best books lists floating around this year? I feel like every newspaper, website, blog, etc. has a best books list. I was going to try to put one together, but then I realized that these larger websites have more staff, resources, money, and time than wee-little I, so I’m going to rely on them. But I did compile a list of the best book lists for you. A list of lists! Hooray!
On to the lists
**Note that this list of lists is fiction-heavy. Many of these publications also have a best books list for multiple categories: nonfiction, fantasy, horror, self-help, etc.
Here are some common titles across most of the lists that look interesting to me:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
From the Publishers Weekly review: “This emotionally involving debut novel explores themes of belonging using the story of the death of a teenage girl, Lydia, from a mixed-race family in 1970s Ohio…Lydia is remarkably imagined, her unhappy teenage life crafted without an ounce of cliché. Ng’s prose is precise and sensitive, her characters richly drawn.”
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
From the New York Times review: “Doerr’s second novel follows two characters whose paths will intersect in the waning days of World War II: an orphaned engineering prodigy recruited into the Nazi ranks, and a blind French girl who joins the Resistance. Tackling questions of survival, endurance and moral obligations during wartime, the book is as precise and artful and ingenious as the puzzle boxes the heroine’s locksmith father builds for her.”
Redeployment by Phil Klay
From the Booklist review: “Klay’s stories are sensational, with vivid characters, biting dialogue, and life within and beyond the Afghan and Iraq wars conveyed with an addictive combination of the mundane and the horrifying… Redeployment is most remarkable, though, for the questions it asks about the aims and effects of war stories themselves, and Klay displays a thoughtful awareness of this literary tradition.”
The Book of Unknown Americans: A Novel by Cristina Henríquez
From the Booklist review: “On a cold, bewildering night, the Riveras, who have just left their happy lives in Mexico, are dropped off at a dilapidated apartment building on the western edge of Delaware…Their building turns out to be a sanctuary for Central and Latin American immigrants, and as the Riveras’ dramatic tale unfolds, Henríquez brings their generous neighbors forward to tell the compelling stories of why and how they left Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Paraguay.”
The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison
From Amazon.com: “Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other?”