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How We Make Our Weekly New Books List

People often ask if I read all of the books that get featured in our best of the week lists, and while I would certainly like to, there is just nowhere near enough time to do so. Especially when you factor in that I also like movies, TV shows, video games, and leaving the house to actually do things. So how then do I determine which books qualify as the “best” of the week?

Since I can’t possibly read all of the many, many books being released every week, the best way to determine which are any good is to rely on organizations that can. Or that can at least make a decent go at it. The internet loves a good list (along with quizzes, lists are basically how BuzzFeed got started), and so there are no shortage of them published on a pretty regular basis and many of these focus on upcoming books. So, I monitor as many of these as I can make time for and keep track of which books get mentioned and how often. I add all of these to a list I maintain that is arranged chronologically and then alphabetically within each date, always deferring to Tuesdays, which is when most books are released in the United States. Which publications do I monitor? Here is the complete list, as of today’s date:

  • AARP
  • Amazon’s editorial team
  • Associated Press
  • AV Club
  • Barnes & Noble’s editorial team
  • BookMarks
  • BookPage
  • BookRiot
  • BookTrib
  • Bustle
  • BuzzFeed
  • Chicago Review of Books
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Costco Connection
  • CrimeReads
  • Dandelion Chandelier
  • Den of Geek
  • E! News
  • Eater
  • Electric Lit
  • Elle
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • Esquire
  • Food Network
  • Fortune
  • Gizmodo
  • Good Housekeeping
  • Good Morning America
  • Goodreads
  • The Guardian
  • Harper’s Bazaar
  • IndieNext by the American Booksellers Association
  • Kirkus Reviews
  • Library Journal
  • LibraryReads
  • Literary Hub
  • LoanStars
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Marie Claire
  • The Millions
  • New York Times
  • NPR
  • Nylon
  • Oprah Daily
  • Parade
  • Paste
  • People
  • Polygon
  • PopSugar
  • Publishers Weekly
  • PureWow
  • Refinery29
  • The Rumpus
  • Salon
  • Seattle Times
  • SheReads
  • Shondaland
  • Star Tribune
  • Time
  • Tor.com
  • Town & Country
  • USA Today
  • Vanity Fair
  • The Verge
  • Vogue
  • Vulture
  • Washington Post
  • Wired

While some of these do post weekly lists as well, I don’t track those, instead only focusing on those that highlight the best of the month, season, quarter, half-year, year, or other large period of time. I also only focus on lists that at least imply that they either know or expect the book to be of above average quality. Lists that simply compile EVERY title coming out during a set period are ignored.

Once I begin to put together a post, I go through the titles I have listed for that week and find out which we have in our catalog, separating those and using them to put together the post. Additionally, I send a list of any potentially notable titles we don’t have to our purchasing team to be considered for possible purchase. I will get a reply about which titles have been ordered and then go back and add those to the post before publication.

Any book that has been mentioned in a “best of” type list ahead of its release by one of the publications listed above is included in the blog post, with some exceptions that I will get to below. Any book that has been mentioned in 5 or more such lists is denoted with a ★.

I do try to include 3 quotes from reviews or articles about the book with each title (4 for those with a ★). If I can’t find any though, the book may be removed from the post. If the reason is that there is a large amount of secrecy around the book and reviews are still embargoed, I will usually leave it in, but if the reason is because all the reviews I am finding are negative, I will take it out. Likewise, if I can find 1 good review along with several bad ones the book will typically be removed. I don’t limit my search for reviews to the publications listed above, and will use quotes from any publication or website that appears to be at least reasonably professional and/or popular, but I will almost never use blurbs from other authors or notable figures that are not from a legitimate review for an actual publication or website.

Each week I aim to have a minimum of 5 books included in the post. As I’m sure you can imagine this is not normally a problem, but there are times when things can be a little sparse. When this happens, I will look at all books being published during a given week and find any that have good reviews, even if they weren’t included in a list by a source I follow. December is such a slow release month though, that it gets condensed into one post covering the entire month.

I never base the inclusion or exclusion of a book from these posts on the basis of my own personal thoughts about the book, the author(s), or the subject matter. This of course means that the word “best” in the title is also not based on whether or not I personally think it is the “best” book. The quality of works of art and entertainment is heavily subjective, and while I think this is a good system to figure out which books are the most likely to be worth reading, none of us are ever going to like every title listed. Hopefully though, it will still help you find something that you will enjoy!

One comment

  1. Good to know, thanks. I also get recommendations from Book Bub. They list recommendations made by my favorite authors. I’ve found new authors that way also. When Avalon Library hosted a zoom meeting with David Baldacci, he was asked who he reads and that was a good suggestion for more authors.

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