10 x 3 + 100 from the NYT

The New York Times Top 10 books of the year is probably the most influential in the business (present company not quite excepted, much as we'd like it to be), but they release an entire parade of lists before the main one, including top 10s in gifty categories and, this week, top 10s from their three daily reviewers and their overall top 100 notable books. Some ground rules for NYT newbies: their daily reviewing operation is a separate organization from the Sunday Book Review (which explains in part that often-griped-about phenomenon of the Times reviewing many books twice). And their 100 Notable books does include their overall top 10, which means its a really long shortlist of sorts for the final top 10. And it includes books they've reviewed since last December, which explains the presence of some late 2009 releases like Changing My Mind and Pops.

As someone who reads their work every Monday all year long, there are few surprises in the daily reviewers' top 10s (which are each limited to books they reviewed in the paper, so there aren't any shared books between them), but it's still interesting to see which of their raves held up in retrospect. (Unlike so many year-end lists--but not ours!--these top 10s are in ranked order, a sporting gesture for which, as always, I applaud them.)


  1. Life by Keith Richards
  2. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
  3. Letters by Saul Bellow
  4. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  5. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  6. Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan
  7. Crisis Economics by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm
  8. The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason
  9. You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier
  10. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell


  1. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
  2. Savages by Don Winslow
  3. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  4. Faithful Place by Tana French
  5. A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster by Wendy Moffat
  6. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson
  7. 61 Hours by Lee Childs
  8. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  9. The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley
  10. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson


  1. The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan
  2. Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens
  3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  4. Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends by Tom Segev
  5. Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes
  6. The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant
  7. I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay by John Lanchester
  8. The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman
  9. Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre
  10. Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb

I don't have the cut-and-paste stamina to list and link all of their 100 Notable picks (though you can find them listed in full on our site), but I will say that I'm a little surprised, in this year of consensus, that our top 100 only shares 25 books with theirs. Rather than list all 100, I'll just highlight 10 of their favorites that might have otherwise not hit your radar:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. --Tom

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Comments (3)

On Dwight Garner's list: Garner didn't write THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, which is how your list is posted. Rebecca Skloot did.

Posted by: Floyd Skloot | Friday November 26, 2010 at 7:55 AM

Oops--you'd think no one would know better than us who wrote our Book of the Year. Fixed. Thanks, Mr. Skloot.

Posted by: Tom | Friday November 26, 2010 at 8:19 AM

It’s all too convincing, and as I watched the snow pile up outside and listened to the few patrons within the bar--one of whom coughed and sniffled at the worst possible moments (plague!)--the bleak narrative offered no reprieve. The isolation compounds until escape is the only option. I never finished a beer so quickly.

Posted by: jinlala | Wednesday July 20, 2011 at 4:39 AM

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