The “Alternative” Black Friday & Best Books of Year Lists

Even if you watch only one TV show–say, The Good Place or Mom-the Black Friday commercials are discombobulating.  They drum it into you that deals are the point of Thanksgiving, and Black Friday now begins on Thursday.

The shopping ritual dismays me, and a dark cloud descends till I turn off the TV, though I see the appeal of leaving the guests if things aren’t going well, or doing a female-bonding thing by announcing,  “Let’s go shopping!” Still, I suggest that everybody take a walk instead.

The Bookworm, Omaha

Kerri Jarema at Bustle reminds us that there’s an alternative shopping day, Small Business Saturday.  She says, “…and for readers, this year’s indie bookstore line-up of events will have you more excited than ever to stack your shelves with new reads.”

She even mentions The Bookworm, where I sometimes shop. She writes, “Stores like The Bookworm in Omaha will be having special readings and signings, along with the chance to win a freebie tote bag and enter a raffle for a $50 gift card.”  And if you’re in Omaha, be sure to go to Jackson Street Booksellers, though I doubt the hipsters at that used bookstore have ever heard of Small Business Saturday.

Kudos to Jarema, because few New York writers mention the Midwest!


The Best Books of the Year lists are published earlier and earlier.  It’s annoying, but it’s a shopping ritual thing.  And I do enjoy perusing the lists, so here are a few links.

1. The New York Times 100 Notable Books.  They call them “notable” rather than “best,” which is wise. I have read five and a half on the fiction list, which is pretty good for me.  I liked two of them: Joan Silber’s Improvement, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, a collection of linked stories about a group of New Yorkers, and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Recreation. a satiric novel about a woman who decides to sleep for a year.

The others I’ve read were just okay:  Sigrid Nunez’s National Book Award-winning The Friend, basically an essay about the  narrator’s  best friend, a professor who seems to have died because he could no longer sleep with his students, and the Great Dane he leaves her;  Lionel Shriver’s Property, a collection of two novellas and some short stories (a couple of these are gems, the others so-so); Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion, a metoo novel; and Rebecca Makkai’s well-researched historical novel about the AIDS crisis in Chicago, The Great Believers.

2.  The TLS Books of the Year.  Intellectuals recommend the best  books of 2018. They seem a little stuffy this year. Thank God for Emily Wilson, translator of The Odyssey, who got a laugh over Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and RecreationThe new Penguin translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days is also my kind of thing, but I don’t remember who recommended it.

3 . The Washington Post Best Books of 2018.  I haven’t read any of the top 10 and couldn’t access the rest!

4.  Barnes and Noble Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018.  The B&N SF blog is very good.

If  you know of any other lists do tell me!

2 thoughts on “The “Alternative” Black Friday & Best Books of Year Lists”

  1. I love to read book lists. However, I read so few new books that I consider anything less then 20 years old new. I did read one off of The New York Times list, it was Stephen Pinker’s Enlightening Now.

    Your advice about Black Sunday is good. I avoid stores like the plague and usually go walking in the woods.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

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