How Very, Very Few Books I’ve Read on the Best Books of the Year Lists

Is she reading one of the best books of the year?

Like every reader, I am enthralled by Christmas Book Gift Guides. Every year I peruse the Best Books of the Year lists in multiple publications. Do I agree with the critics? Well, my reading seldom coincides with theirs, so it is hard to say.

Before I announce my hilarious Best Book List reading stats, let me recommend three books I loved that are on none of the lists!

The Story of Stanley Brent, by Elizabeth Berridge (I wrote about it here)

It Is Wood, It Is Stone, by Gabriela Burnham (here)

Interlibrary Loan, by Gene Wolfe (here)


I read ONE of the New York Times 100 Notable Books. Pitiful! I expected to have read more. The book is A Burning by Megha Majumda, which I predicted would win the Booker or the National Book Award. I was wrong.

This appears on multiple lists.

I read ZERO of The Guardian Best Books of the Year. Pathetic. How could I have neglected to read the best books on this splendid book page?

I read ZERO in the Washington Post Top 10, but FIVE in their Notable 50. I give myself many, many points for this. I read: Actress by Anne Enright, All Adults Here by Emma Straub, A Burning by Megha Majumda, Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford, and The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. I also blogged about these books, but am tired of linking.

I read TWO at The TLS Best. Lydia Davis did not recommend new books, but wrote that she is ” looking forward to Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree, followed probably by Cather’s The Professor’s House…” Good taste, Lydia.

I read TWO at the BBC Best, which means the BBC and I have something in common. I loved Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler and Actress by Anne Enright. I predicted–wrongly–that the latter would win some awards.

I read ONE of the Best Fiction Books of 2020 Time. A Burning by Megha Majumda. Yes, again!

I read ZERO at NPR’s Favorite Books of 2020, of 2,500 titles picked by staff and “trusted critics.” Pathetic! How could I not have read one of those?

I read ONE at Bustle’s Best Books of 2020. Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas . Not a personal favorite, but Bustle is a Millennial publication, and this novel has a Y.A. style,

I read ONE at Parade. All Adults Here by Emma Straub (one of my favorites of the year).

I read ZERO at Town and Country. No surprise there!

I have read eight! And yet I read so many books…

Do you read Best Books Lists? With reverence, amusement, or excitement? Are they useful?

I can’t wait to hear!

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