I usually avoid "Best of" booklists and articles that speculate about contenders for book awards because they focus the literary conversation on just a few books and discourage readers from shopping around to all the titles that are actually out in the world and available for us to read. However, because I've had so little time to keep up with reading about books these past four months and because it's so difficult to get easy access to reviews even if I had time to read them (our local Big City paper is often down to only one book review a week now), I have, indeed, started scanning "Best of" lists just to familiarize myself with any titles at all.
The Best Fiction of 2011. Yes, I had heard of the Eugenides and Wallace titles because I'm not actually dead yet.
The Best Nonfiction of 2011. Well, I can say I know who Catherine the Great was.
Writers Choose Their Favorite Books of 2011. This was my favorite of the three "Best of" lists I've seen this past week because I was exposed to so very many titles, both those of the writers doing the recommending and those of the writers the writers doing the recommending were recommending. (I'm sure you follow that.) Plus, some of these titles were titles I'd already seen in the preceding two lists. I have to keep seeing titles in order to recall them and then pick up the books when I stumble upon them somewhere, which is pretty much how I find my reading.
Here's what stuck in my mind from the last list: Someone recommended a book by G.R.R. Martin, who wrote A Game of Thrones. That book was recommended to me the last time I went out walking with my walking group, which was, I think, last month. Some name recognition is building up in my mind now.
How could I forget the Dec. 19th issue of People Magazine's two page-section of Picks for Kids mini book reviews? I can't find it on-line, but it includes New England author Lita Judge's book Red Sled.