Are you sick of 10 Best lists? I am. This time of year there are so many 10 Best Books of the Year lists that we'll have to start ranking them too. Soon we'll need a 10 Best 10 Best Books of the Year Lists List, just to keep it all straight.
Or we can turn the concept on its head. Instead of focusing on books that were published this year, how about focusing on years that have been published as books? That's what we've done here: Instead of the 10 Best Books of the Year, we present a list of the 10 Best Years That Are Books.
The coming new year is a perfect example. Whatever else you can say about 2010, it's already a book and has been for almost three decades, thanks to Arthur C. Clarke. (Unfortunately, 2010 didn't make our list--more about that below).
A note about our methodology: In our haste to compile our list on a timely basis, we were not able to read all of the books featured here, and those we did get to we faked. Also, readers may note that, as with at least one other recent 10 Best Books list, there are no women represented in our rankings. This should not be construed as evidence of sexist attitudes on our part; it's just that women aren't very good with numbers.
Here, in chronological order, are our choices for the 10 Best Years That Are Books:
Notable Books That Didn't Make the Cut:
April 1865: The Month That Saved America, by Jay Winik.
Winik's book is named for a month rather than a year. We can't imagine what he was thinking.
1959: The Year Everything Changed, by Fred Kaplan
1969: The Year Everything Changed, by Rob Kirkpatrick
Just when did everything change? One author says 1959, the other 1969. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. We suggest they collaborate on a single volume called 1964: By Then Everything Had Changed or Was Soon Going To.
'78: The Boston Red Sox, A Historic Game, and a Divided City, by Bill Reynolds. Reynolds made the arrogant mistake of failing to include the entire year in his title, and paid the price for his hubris.
2010: Odyssey Two
2061: Odyssey Three
3001: The Final Odyssey
All by Arthur C. Clarke
Clarke's obvious attempt to game our list almost got him dropped from consideration entirely.
2666: A Novel, by Roberto Bolaño. This title doesn't refer to a year. Nice try, Roberto!