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by Jeffrey Eugenides
Here’s what I learned, after a month of talking to editors, literary agents, publishers, and other authors: A paperback isn’t just a cheaper version of the book anymore. It’s a makeover. A facelift. And for some, a second shot.
We’ve come a long way since George Eliot had to call herself George Eliot, but you’d have to be blind to think we live in an equal world.
The bond formed around a favorite novel is one of shared immersive experience, usually open to impossibly wide interpretations. When we meet someone else who’s “been there,” there’s a biting urge to know exactly what the other person saw, what scenes remain strongest in her memory, what crucial knowledge or insight was retrieved, and what her experience reveals or changes about our own?
With four books graduating to our Hall of Fame, we have a new number one, and four new books on our list.
Murakami returns to the top spot, but a shake-up is coming next month.
We are undoubtedly swayed by the little billboard that is the cover of every book we read.
No new books were able to break in this month, but a couple were making strong moves higher on the list.
As we've noted in the past, the NBCC seems to do a better job of catching the zeitgeist than other major prizes like the National Book Award and the Booker, which like to play kingmaker by annointing less well known titles.
I have reached out to a band of fresh voices (some new, some established, some you know, some you will soon) and compiled the alternative, the underground, the “oh-yes-that-one” list of favorite books of 2011.
The Great Frustration is a debut, but it’s also something most writers, even the most acclaimed ones, have never accomplished: it is a perfect short story collection. It’s also the best book I read in 2011.
There were two huge literary new releases in October, but only one could take our top spot.
Shout it from the rooftops, people! Helen DeWitt is back!
On its face, The Marriage Plot appears to be a novel that mentions a lot of novels without talking about any of them. These facile, knowing references disguise the sly ways that this novel engages with its predecessors.
The irony was clear: here I was, cheating on a novel that had once been my mistress!
An e-book original takes the top spot and another debuts. One of the big literary books of the fall also lands on our list.
A bookish first paragraph kicks off this new novel set to come out in October.