We all need methods in our lives to separate the worthwhile from the time-wasting, the valuable wheat from the useless chaff.
I’m not suggesting that all other books are chaff-like (I will admit Twilight was a delicious read), but the award winners below are safe bets in an age where 200,000 books are published each year in the United States alone. For reading and collecting.
Mann Booker Prize, open to novels by citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, and Zimbabwe
- Winner: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel—a fictionalized story of the life of Thomas Cromwell
- The shortlist (runners-up): The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt; Summertime, by J.M. Coetzee; The Quickening Maze, by Adam Foulds; The Glass Room, by Simon Mawer; The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
National Book Award, open to American authors
- Fiction winner: Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
- Nonfiction winner: The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, by T.J. Stiles
- The finalists (in fiction): In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin; Far North, by Marcel Theroux; American Salvage, by Bonnie Jo Campbell; Lark and Termite, by Jayne Anne Phillips
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, open to American authors
- Winner: Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout
- The finalists: The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich; All Souls, by Christine Schutt
Sad to say, I haven’t read any of them. I have my eye on The Children’s Book (Byatt is always great) and The Little Stranger (a mystery in postwar Britain seems right up my alley). Let me know what you think of these, or any of the books on the list.