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“May you live in interesting times” is a quote commonly attributed to Confucius, probably erroneously, but Robert F. Kennedy did use it in a speech in 1966, adding a rueful twist: “Like it or not, we live in interesting times....” Regardless of your thinking on these current times, they are certainly anything but boring, and we feel the same about the books published this year.

Once again, we take the opportunity near year's end to review the year in books, highlighting the very best of what American publishing had to offer in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, comics, religion, lifestyle and children's. There were the authors we expected to deliver, and they did: Louise Erdrich with The Plague of Doves, Richard Price with Lush Life, Jhumpa Lahiri with Unaccustomed Earth, Lydia Millet with How the Dead Dream. A breakthrough surprise about cricket, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, delighted us, while Tim Winton's Breath took ours away. We listened to our elders in How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People; thought about our planet with The Soul of the Rhino; examined our history in The Hemingses of Monticello and Abraham Lincoln: A Life; and, thanks to Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, we even considered Jesus for President.

  1. The Living Dead by Harlan Ellison

    Book Cover: The Living Dead by Harlan Ellison
    (literature and fiction, horror, sci-fi)

    "This superb reprint anthology runs the gamut of zombie stories, with entries by a plethora of renowned and outstanding authors from all sides of the genre."

  2. Pump Six And Other Stories By Paolo Bacigalupi

    Book Cover: Pump Six And Other Stories By Paolo Bacigalupi
    (literature and fiction, fantasy, sci-fi)

    "Bacigalupi's extraordinary debut collection of futuristic tales, most of which focus on the very personal consequences of environmental disaster, delivers astute social commentary in poignant, revelatory prose."

  3. Ink And Steel By Elizabeth Bear

    Book Cover: Ink And Steel By Elizabeth Bear

    "The secret war between fae and the Elizabethan court comes to light in this dramatic tale of espionage, seduction and the literal magic of poetry and plays."

  4. City At The End Of Time By Greg Bear

    Book Cover: City At The End Of Time By Greg Bear
    (mystery and thrillers, sci-fi, teens)

    "Bear returns triumphantly to large-scale science fiction with this complex, difficult tale of Seattle drifters sent on a mission to preserve the universe's last vestiges of consciousness."

  5. Fallen By Tim Lebbon

    Book Cover: Fallen By Tim Lebbon

    "Lebbon blends wonder and nightmare in this vividly memorable novel of aging voyagers whose quest for glory takes a dark turn when they encounter ancient and terrifying gods."

  6. Filter House By Nisi Shawl

    Book Cover: Filter House By Nisi Shawl
    (literature and fiction)

    "Shawl's exquisitely rendered debut collection weaves threads of folklore, religion, family and the search for a cohesive self through a panorama of race, magic and the body."

  7. Half A Crown By Jo Walton

    Book Cover: Half A Crown By Jo Walton
    (literature and fiction, mystery and thrillers, fantasy)

    "Walton wraps up her Small Change trilogy with a powerful tale of an alternate 1960 in which a fascist Britain, attempting to emulate Nazi Europe, finally pushes its citizens too far."

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