It’s December. Probably one of the most anticipated months of the year- right up there with the balmy/ scorching summers of July and August (at least in Europe).
But December has an edge over the summer months because it’s that time of the year when we all indulge ourselves a little bit and tell ourselves that everything will be ok the next year. New beginnings, new resolve- December is poised smack on the border as a harbinger of good times to come.
It’s also the season of gifting. We’re all looking for those unique gifts that we can offer our family and friends. The other day I read this article on a friend’s facebook timeline about how we are dumping the planet with more toxic waste in the search of those quirky but often useless gifts. This stung even more because right about then I had been looking at the online giftshop of the British Museum and seriously contemplating buying a Roman warrior styled rubber ducky. Seriously. Needless to say I dropped the plan after thinking about how much of the planet’s resources go into making stuff like ornamental rubber duckies.
I always default to buying books as gifts. I truly believe that books can educate and liberate you; inspire new ideas and set you off on new paths. What better fit for the season?
Even better if you buy books in electronic formats then you don’t even have to feel guilty about the trees that were felled for the paper the books were made from. I personally don’t care much for whether I have a physical book or an electronic book (in fact most often I prefer the latter as it allows for more flexible reading) but I know a lot of people who like an old fashioned paper book in their hands.
December is a fantastic month if you’re a book lover. It’s the season when everybody who’s anybody comes out with their ‘best books of the year’ lists. It’s a great way to get to know what books have come out and because each list is also slightly different , it exposes you to a great diversity of books. Some magazines even go into listing best books by sub genres which is kind of awesome.
I use a combination of of these lists, writings from some of the authors I like and international awards to populate my reading list for the year. Some of the better lists out there include the following (not in any order of awesomeness)
NPR’s Book Concierge: Every year America’s National Public Radio comes out with a dazzling array of books that they think make good reading. Unlike other lists that include about 10-15 books, NPR’s online concierge lists dozens of books and you can use tags to narrow book recommendations down to a few by genre or by description. The list comes out in early December every year and the best part is that you can also access the best books of every year back to 2008. That’s like a decade’s worth of reading!
New York Times’ 10 Best Books list: If the bewildering array of possibilities offered by NPR’s Book Concierge scares you then the NY Times list is probably a more concise starting point with just ten books. To also make their list visually appealing, especially in this age of bookstagrammers (someday I will vent my angst about bookstagrammers but not today) the New York Times have come out with this lovely image below.
The Guardian’s genre by genre best books list: If the first two lists were all too American (although the books span the entire world) then you can always set store by Guardian’s best books lists. They’ve got separate lists for fiction, non-fiction, history, science fiction, poetry, biographies- you name it- they’ve got it. They’ve also got two sections dedicated to best book recommendations by other writers. You can always pick your favourite author and see what he or she has to recommend.
The Costa Book Awards: Yes, Costa make more than just good coffee. Every year they also come out with the Costa Book Awards for the best first novel, best novel, best biography and best children’s book and these can be a good inspiration for you. This year’s shortlist has been announced.
There are numerous other book lists that are published every year. FT also has a listing of best books by genre but unfortunately is behind a pay wall so you cannot access all the sections unless you are a subscriber. Huffington Post has it’s own of best fiction for 2017 so does Harper’s Bazaar. Probably the only time in the year when I actually seriously read something from Harper’s Bazaar 🙂 Not to be outdone Popsugar also has its list of 57 books to read.
If you want your reading list inspired by business leaders then Bloomberg has a recommendation list.
Now that is a whole lot of lists to trawl through. I hope that you’ll be able to find something interesting both for yourself and as gifts for others.
One of these days I’ll make another post about my personal list of books I’d like to read from these lists.
How do you choose your books? Do you find year-end book lists helpful? Have I missed an important list?