, Salem, MA

December 28, 2012

New Year's lists of good books

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — The new year is a time for looking both forward and back, and it’s no different at the Peabody Institute Library in Peabody.

“This is when the radio stations and newspapers are printing those lists, of best fiction in 2012,” said Kelley Rae Unger, adult services librarian. “This time of year, we put out a binder of the recommended book lists.”

They come from National Public Radio, The New York Times and several other sources, and the binder is always kept at the reference desk.

Patrons looking for something new to read like looking at these lists of past books, Unger said, and often ask to see them.

Unlike best-seller lists, which simply reflect sales numbers, these titles are chosen by each publication’s staff members, who share the reasons for their pick.

The New York Times Sunday Book Review names just 10 best books of the year — five each in fiction and nonfiction — as recommended by its editors.

In fiction, they selected Zadie Smith’s “NW,” the title of which comes from the postal code for northwest London, a poor neighborhood where its main characters live.

NPR’s list offers suggestions in a much broader set of categories, including historical fiction, science fiction, “contrarian cookbooks” and books about music.

In its mystery category, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn — which Unger said is still very popular in Peabody — is listed as the best book of the year.

The novel begins with a woman’s disappearance on her fifth wedding anniversary, leaving only a diary as a clue to her whereabouts — and to the truth about her life.