Sure, you could look at this blog post as the laziest kind of clickbait, a craven attempt to earn attention by appealing to internet users’ seemingly insatiable demand for ranked lists. (Did they include my favorite posts? I must click and find out!) Or you could view it as the last refuge of the lazy blogger. (I know—let’s use a bunch of stuff we already wrote!) If you’re charitable, you could call it recycling—getting new use out of previously used products. (And if you’re really, really charitable, you could say it’s the end of the year and someone deserves a day off.)
What interests me about this list is what is says about what people want to read. If you’re curious, too, read on for my brief ‘n’ breezy annotations of our most-viewed posts in 2015 (that were also published in 2015, thereby excluding that pesky post from 2008 that won’t go away because it has the words “free audiobook” in the title).
It’s no surprise that audiobooks are popular, although I confess I didn’t think they’d be popular enough to make this the number-one post for the entire year. And what does it say about us that the post with the finalists is more popular than the post with the winners? Are we just softies at heart, preferring the warm inclusiveness of the longlist before the brutal lopping-off that comes at the end of the process? (And if that’s true, does it mean that we’d really prefer to have all the candidates on the debate stage actually sharing the Oval Office? The mind boggles.)
This list was shared, celebrated, amended, addended, excoriated, and certainly commented upon. Our phrasing of the title was a little coy—being a compilation of top 10 (and one top 11) lists, it’s certainly a different process than the one we’d take if we were, say, reflecting on the decade past and not limiting our choices to a set number per year, while simultaneously making sure to include the books that had gone on to enjoy popular success and making sure to include a few of the books that never quite made the final cut. (The Susan Luccis, if you will.)
With a process the same as above, we were sure to leave off some books and authors that readers just can’t live without. But I was happy to note that, for all the readers who let us know we had no credibility because we’d left off authors X, Y, and Z, an equal number noted that they’d made plenty of additions to their own TBR lists—and that, at The Booklist Reader, is what we’re all about.
A certain pattern becomes evident, as internet users’ hardwired hunger for ranked lists propels certain posts predictably to the top. We promise not to go overboard, however, even if it’s only in the interest of self-preservation. There are a limited number of categories, and there’s also only so often you can publish a decade-long retrospective without looking like someone who, instead of beating against the current, is borne ceaselessly into the past. Or something like that. But these lists are a great way of reminding readers of some of the great books whose starred reviews earned them berths on top 10 lists in recent history. It’s all about the backlist, baby!
As above, the question remains: is the greater popularity of the longlist due to some unvoiced democratic impulse among our readers? Or is it simply because we forgot to include the magic search words “best books” in this post’s title? Probably the latter.
I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t have expected this post—a preview of movies based on hot books, written to remind librarians to make sure to have plenty of those books on hand—to make this list. But Erin Downey Howerton, a working librarian and, as of 2016, the chair of Booklist‘s Editorial Advisory Board, has a knack for coming up with the kinds of posts people want to read whether they know it or not. And that’s exactly why we’re so glad she’s on our team.
I had no idea how important the imperative mood was to successfully titling blog posts until now. (And I promise I won’t!) As much as I was impressed by the argument of Bookends bloggers Lynn Rutan and Cindy Dobrez—that, just because Dessen is super-popular, it doesn’t mean she isn’t also a great writer—I have a sneaking suspicion that this performed as well as it did thanks to a tweet from the subject of post to her 264,000 followers.
Another longlist that ranks above the post that announced the winners. Not that I’m complaining! Given Booklist‘s important role in ALA’s first single-title award for adult fiction and nonfiction, I’m just happy to see this relatively young award getting the attention it deserves. I was honored to be on the committee for the 2015 medal, and I’m as excited as anyone to see which winners will be announced in a week and a half in Boston.
And again with the imperative! Still, this post would probably have done just as well if it had been titled, “Am I Doing It Wrong?” After all, we had MEGAN ABBOTT and LAURA LIPPMAN. YDIW has always been one of my favorite kinds of posts, but it’s also always been one of the hardest ones to pull off: you need two smart writers who like each other but aren’t afraid to disagree, and you need a great topic for them to disagree about. And while they might have been just a wee bit more civil than I would have liked, their wide-ranging conversation about truth, lies, true crime, and crime fiction was fascinating. It also left me with a to-read and to-watch list I’m still making my way through. I’m sure I have company.
Or else. Mystery Month (aka, the month of May) is one of my favorite times of year, and it’s good to know I’m not alone. This year, we tried to get even more libraries to participate, with some success. It may not have been that many more than the previous year, but the number of people who read this post tells me they were at least thinking about it. There’s always next year!
Shelley Mosley loves romance novels but hates football. But Phillips, who “could take a story about a man who spends his days making mud pies, and a woman who designs condominiums for snails, and turn it into a best-selling romance novel,” manages to overcome all of Mosley’s scruples about pigskins and gridirons and whatever else those hulking brutes use to play the game (I confess I’m not a football fan, either). Judging from the success of this post, Phillips has found a perfect niche.
The posts in our Publishing U series, offering advice for aspiring and first-time authors from publishing experts, have proven very popular, and no post more than this one. I know from experience that, when I’m talking to newbie writers, their hands go up when I ask if they need a definition for query letter. Got another publishing question you’d like to see addressed? Let me know!
I confess, this one baffles me. Nothing against our book-group expert Sue Dittmar, and certainly nothing against her choice of book to talk about. I just don’t know how many people are Googling “overlooked gem.” Maybe it’s “next book group read”? Or maybe it’s just that people are hungry for what the Booklist reviewer called “a stellar example of literary WWII fiction.”
Neil Hollands is a man determined to find out which books are really the best—that is, the books that show up on the absolute largest number of year’s-best lists—and he’s got the spreadsheets to prove it. Why take one person’s word when you can take everyone’s? (Well, almost everyone’s.)
Given that I was the architect behind this post, I take a real sense of personal satisfaction in seeing it here, all the more so because it’s only had a couple of weeks to get the page views. (Some of these posts have had all year!) Oddly specific how, you ask? Well, you’ll have to CLICK THE LINK to find out!