3 x 100: Comparing the NYT 100 Notables to Amazon and PW
The New York Times announced their 100 Notable Books on Thanksgiving Eve (they'll appear in the print edition of the Book Review on Sunday), which completes the annual triumvirate of US top 100s, including PW's list and ours. I won't go to the cut & paste lengths of linking to all 100 of the NYT's picks, but you can find them all in this list on Amazon. What I will do, as I have done in the past two years, is pick out the books we all three agree on. The three lists don't all cover the same territory (the NYT and PW don't include kids' books, and the NYT also leaves art books, cookbooks, kids' books, and other specialty titles for other year-end lists, while PW also doesn't include kids' books and shows a much heavier interest in comics, religion, and genre fiction than we or the NYT do in our main lists), but our common picks do give a sort of consensus on the most-admired fiction and nonfiction of the year.
Eleven books appear on all three lists, the same number as in 2007 (last year we agreed on 13), although I'm also going to list two books that we and PW agreed on that also appeared in the NYT's other year-end lists:
- Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
- Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
- Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
- The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
- Born Round by Frank Bruni
- Cheever by Blake Bailey
- Columbine by Dave Cullen
- Fordlandia by Greg Grandin
- The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
- The Lost City of Z by David Grann
- Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford
- Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan (not in NYT's 100 Notable, but in their best cookbooks list)
- The Jazz Loft Project by Sam Stephenson (not in NYT's 100 Notable, but in their Gift Books list)
Only two novels pleased everybody, along with a graphic novel. And what else do you notice about these shared picks? Yes, just like the much-debated PW top 10, no women (but four Davids and a Dave!)...
Is this list a hint of what to expect from the NYT's 10 Best, coming next Wednesday? Last year half of that list came from the consensus picks, but in 2007 only two did. My money's on The Age of Wonder, The Good Soldiers, Lost City of Z, and Cheever to be on that list, along with the big award winners Wolf Hall and Let the Great World Spin, which were in our overall top three but didn't make the PW list. But we'll see... --Tom
P.S. One further clarification: for those readers who don't read the NYT tea leaves as closely as many in the industry do, the Sunday Book Review and the daily book reviews are entirely separate, and so while the 100 Notable and 10 Best lists are put together by the Sunday Book Review staff, the regular daily reviewers--Kakutani, Maslin, and Garner--have each chosen their own 2009 top 10s. Those looking for further consensus will note that four of the books above (The Good Soldiers and Lost City of Z for Kakutani and Await Your Reply and The Age of Wonder for Maslin) also appeared on those lists.