My Secret to Recommending Books

I love being your personal book gift guide. Ask me to recommend a title for your great-uncle who loves history, but not war stories, something under 300 pages? I am SO THERE.

One of the reasons I’m able to do this is that I read a lot of books. (51 so far in 2018, with a few more started and abandoned.) Another reason is that I’m aware of a lot of books.

And now I’m going to give away my secret. I keep tabs on many, many “best books of the year” lists.

This year, I’m going to share some of best sources with you. These are holiday book gift guides I think are reliable and easy to use.

You may already know about NPR’s Book Concierge. This year’s version features 319 titles, easily searchable by multiple categories. It’s one of my favorite tools for choosing books as gifts. Even better: If you’re not wedded to choosing a book published this year, you can search the lists all the way back to 2008.

The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018 is also searchable by category. I think the NYT list is an excellent place to browse for the non-fiction readers on your list, because the paper – unfortunately, in my opinion – places less emphasis on reviewing fiction.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune books section has led me to some gems in the past. Its list of nearly 60 titles includes books for kids and young adults, and some regional selections, too.

Several smaller, more tightly curated lists can be helpful.

The Washington Post chooses only 10 Best Books of 2018, but the list includes links to buy them, in case you’re into one-stop shopping.

My hometown paper, The Dallas Morning News, had critic Chris Vognar cull his best-of list to 10 as well.

The website The Undefeated offers 24 titles for our consideration.

Still stuck?

Three books that seemed to land on everyone’s lists this year are the novels Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, and There There by Tommy Orange, and the nonfiction work The Library Book by Susan Orlean.

Or you could always ask me. Did I mention I love giving book-buying advice?




1 thought on “My Secret to Recommending Books

  1. Rick Holter

    Dear Ms. Seed;
    What book would you give the book nerd who reads every book that comes down the pike?
    — Dumbfounded in Dallas

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