There are so very many wonderful books published over the course of twelve months that the task of picking our favorites for the annual Best of the Year list can seem not just difficult but nearly impossible. Which to choose?
Knowing the job must be done, we six editors sit down together at a series of meetings and ponder, discuss, and occasionally argue as we sort through all the books we loved this year. Eventually, we wrestle a far-too-long list of favorites into something more succinct.
This year, our #1 pick is one we all agreed on -- a rare thing among a group of opinionated people with wildly diverging tastes. But we were overwhelmed, unanimously, by David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.
Grann’s account of a 1920s investigation into the murders of oil-rich members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma has the grim excitement of film noir, the heady intellectual pleasure of well-told history, and writing worthy of The New Yorker, where Grann is on staff. Though Killers of the Flower Moon is set in the past, the bigotry, greed and corruption Grann exposes feel relevant to our times.
The next three books on the list will appeal to those of you who love novels. Each one is by a writer with previous successes. Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel, by Celeste Ng, is a tightly woven, emotionally fraught story set in a picture-perfect suburb of Cleveland. In it, Ng addresses timely issues of motherhood, privilege, and race. Her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, was Amazon’s #1 Best of the Year choice for 2014.
In Beartown: A Novel, set in a small Swedish town that's crazy for hockey, Fredrik Backman explores community, loyalty -- and its limits. This is an eminently readable, compassionate story that will leave you feeling good about humanity. Backman’s previous books include the widely-loved bestseller A Man Called Ove.
Exit West: A Novel, by Mohsin Hamid, is a fable-like tale, in which two lovers flee their war-ravaged homeland to seek refuge abroad. Hamid upends our cultural assumptions and stakes an optimistic claim for the enduring pleasures of imagination and narrative, even in the midst of war. Hamid’s previous books include The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
We hope you'll enjoy the books included in the Best of the Year as much as we did, whether you choose to read them in print, on a Kindle, or on Audible. These books offer the kind of immersive reading experience that can change your view of the past, and the present. They might even change you.