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:
But it would be another 588 years before China attained a controlling stake in America.
For one thing, there were a surprising number of Chinese people here to greet him [see above].
1599 saw the Elizabethan equivalent of the Millennium Bug panic, which had Shakespeare convinced that when the calendar rolled over to 1600 all the quills would stop working.
An obliging volume that makes reading the book redundant once you've gotten through that subtitle.
A sweeping account of a year so momentous it doesn't even need a subtitle.
Published in 1997, a very good year. Be sure to open this book to let it breathe a bit before consuming.
Orwell wrote the book in 1948 and inverted the last two digits of that year to come up with his title. Good thing he didn't write it in 1944 or it would have been called 1944.
This account of the year that saw the Tiananmen Square protests, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union throws Bob Dylan into the mix just to make things interesting.
The prophetic science fiction novel that predicted the year 2001 thirty years before it became a reality.
Essential reading for those who always wondered when Quetzalcoatl was coming back, and for those who didn't realize he'd gone anywhere in the first place.
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!
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