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Thursday, June 26, 2008

EW 100 Best Books of the Last 25 Years

In the current, double, print issue of Entertainment Weekly (June 27 and July 4, 2008), beginning on page 95, there is an article listing the "New Classics," or their version of the Best 100 Books of the Last 25 Years.

Their number 1 is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which I personally loved. It is a great mix of dystopian SF, apocalyptic fiction, and a moving father-son drama, all with an un-McCarthy ray of hope ending. You should check out the list, which is compiled with annotations, and considers a book's importance, not just its quality of writing (see Bridget Jones' Diary at number 20).

There is also a list of new monster books by Neil Gaiman and an article by EW contributor Stephen King about his favorite year for books in the last 25 years (It was 1999).

Writing about this list also reminds me to mention what a great resource Entertainment Weekly is in both print and online. As a Readers' Advisor, you not only have to read the professional reviews, you also must read what your patrons are reading. Popular publications with book reviews and/or book news on their websites (like EW) are an excellent resource. I go through EW every week and make sure we have the B+ and higher reviewed works. We generally do, but once in awhile I catch something we may have missed. For example, a book that was dismissed in Publishers Weekly 4 months ago, but now that it is out, is catching fire with the public and gets a big write up in EW.

Also, remember, as you help patrons with their leisure reading needs, you also need to know about the entire media landscape. Reading EW allows me to keep up to date with the hottest TV shows and movies without having to actually watch them. For example, I know all about CSI, but have never watched it, and I get many requests for books like CSI, so I am prepared. Ditto for all the superhero movies based on graphic novels.

Do have a look at this current list in EW though; you might find the next great read for your patrons or yourself.


Tracy said...

I stumbled across EW's list yesterday and had a somewhat less positive reaction. I felt there were several glaring omissions, which I readily admit is probably unavoidable with these types of lists. But no The Color Purple? How did that happen?

Also, I expected Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides), The Life of Pi (Yan Martel), Bastard Out of Carolina (Dorothy Allison), and In Country (Bobbie Ann Mason) to appear somewhere on the list.

I guess I can understand (reluctantly) why authors like J.M. Coetzee, Ha Jin, and Peter Carey were bypassed, but the books mentioned previously were all important works that also acquired readers among the general public.

Also not quite sure why On Beauty was the Zadie Smith selection over White Teeth. Or why Annie Proulx's Close Range was chosen over The Shipping News.

So, that's my two (or three) cents. Sorry for the (mini) rant.


Becky said...

Tracy- Thanks for your comments. I agree that the list was missing books I thought should be there too. But what I love about any of these lists of the "best" books is the conversations they begin.

This list did do a great job of getting a wide range of titles included though. I also loved the mix of fiction and nonfiction in one list.