Critics tab good reads

The National Book Critics Circle, an organization made up of roughly 800 literary critics and book reviewers (including some regular SN&R contributors, as well as yours truly), has opted to make their “Best recommended” list a seasonal event. This round, the NBCC Good Reads Winter List includes some top award contenders as well as some fresh material. These books suggestions do not reflect sales or popularity, but are simply the books that critics think are worthy of recommending as “good reads.”


1. Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)
2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead)*
3. Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee (Viking)
4. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)
5. Zeroville by Steve Erickson (Europa)


1. The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)*
2. Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)*
3. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press) (reviewed in SN&R this week).
4. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (Knopf)
5. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (Metropolitan)


1. Elegy by Mary Jo Bang (Graywolf)*
2. Time and Materials by Robert Hass (Ecco)
3. Gulf Music by Robert Pinsky (FSG)
4. The Collected Poems, 1956–1998 by Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco)
5. Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow (Harper)

* nominated for an NBCC Book Award