December 14, 2011

The Aspirational Optimism of Best-of Lists

It’s the time of year for year-end lists. I know it’s not the politically correct thing to do, but I just love these lists, and I always skim them. Yes, lots of worthy people and books get left off these lists and it’s always the same people chosen and in fact I’m sure that I’ll eventually be left off many if not all of these lists.


I love the aspirational optimism of these lists. Optimism because there’s something almost childlike and naïve about making a list of ten best. Especially if you’re someone like me who falls in love with so many of the books I read. I can see their flaws, sure, but oh what they achieve! Aspirational because, like new year’s resolutions, what are best-of lists for if not to hold the bar up and say, this is good, I want to achieve this.

Also aspirational because I invariably think I should print out the New York Times 100 Notable Books and make sure I read them this next year. I never do ~ I follow my whim too much in my reading for that ~ but it’s a nice thought.

And I love the fact that there are a lot of them and some books keep popping up. I will buy a book if I keep seeing it pop up in the press and on lists. Or I’ll have already bought the book but I’ll put it on top of my pile because I keep seeing it. I also love the other lists, the quirky ones.

So I hope you get one of those best-of books this year for Christmas ~ and it blows your socks off!


Melissa Crytzer Fry said...

I love these lists, too, Tamara. What a great point that they really do speak to our childlike sense of wonder and aspiration!

Tamara said...

I'm so glad I'm not alone. :-)