I will have my selections for “best books” closer to the end of the year. But, for the hell of it, here’s where I end up with a few of the best books of 2005 lists that are popping up. (For those who may be interested, Fimolculous is keeping track of the 2005 lists in a variety of categories.)
- One, Saturday by Ian McEwan, out of 18 “General fiction” entries on the Christian Science Monitor’s “Best Fiction 2005.” I fall to one, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, out of 30 on the nonfiction list (excluding the art and sports books).
- Two, Saturday and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, of the top 5 fiction books picked by the UK’s The Sunday Times. I was one, The Year of Magical Thinking, of five in memoirs.
- The same two novels are the only ones in the 39 works of fiction on the New York Times list of 100 Notable Books of the Year. I do worse with the 61 nonfiction books on the list, reading only The Year of Magical Thinking and having had 102 Minutes in the TBR pile for far too long. But both McEwan’s and Didion’s books made the NYT’s list of “The 10 Best Books of 2005.”
- From the WAPO’s Critic’s Choices, The Year of Magical Thinking is the only one of the nine nonfiction books selected and Never Let Me Go the only one of the five fiction works. I was a perfect zero in the Editors’ Choices of the five best fiction and five best nonfiction books.
- Similarly, Never Let Me Go was the only one of the LA Times’s 20 fiction favorites of 2005. In addition to The Year of Magical Thinking, the paper’s 20 nonfiction favorites also included Reza Aslan’s No god but God, an introduction to the history of Islam I started but did not complete before the library wanted it back.
While I’m not surprised that I tend to lag behind what the mass media “professionals” think, I still don’t understand why so many people are enamored with Never Let Me Go. My assessment is it gets its legs from the author’s reputation and, perhaps, critics’ unfamiliarity with the SF genre. It will not be on my “best of” list.
“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.
Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar