NPR's Book Concierge 2019
December 4, 2019 8:48 AM   Subscribe

NPR's Book Concierge is back with 350 reads in 33 categories that you can mix and match. If you're still not able to find the perfect book for your next read, you can also explore the books from the last seven years, or look at Metafilter discussions from 2017 or 2015.
posted by dinty_moore (26 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
I worked on this! I also wrote up a post on how we rewrote it this year to include all the past recommendations and improve it on phones and assistive tech.
posted by Four String Riot at 9:05 AM on December 4, 2019 [26 favorites]


Ah, it's the best time of the year! I do wish I could exclude categories, though (mostly nonfiction. Okay, exclusively nonfiction. I hate getting tricked into clicking on something that looks nice but turns out to be a memoir or something. Blech.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:13 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


#198, woo-Hoo! 🥳
posted by gottabefunky at 9:26 AM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm delighted that K.J. Charles's book Any Old Diamonds made the list.
posted by Lexica at 9:29 AM on December 4, 2019


A review of 369 books without using sentences or paragraphs. So 2019.

You can at least switch from picture-book "Covers" view to the I Am Literate "List" view by clicking on the button at top right.
posted by mississippi at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


If you click on any of the books in question, you get a short blurb, then they link to any previous NPR reviews of the book.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:35 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Nomnomnom. Am I still allowed to say that? Drooling...
posted by lextex at 9:53 AM on December 4, 2019


The books that were added to my to-read list were Any Old Diamonds, Epic Continent, God Save the Queens (Aloha Rodeo looks really cool too, gottabefunky - congrats!) and reminded me I really need to read Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me and Red White and Royal Blue.

I do have space for five more holds from my library, so. . .

Kinda surprised to see the Secret Commonwealth on there, considering the reactions of everyone I know who read it. And I'm not the target reading audience for Fleishman is in Trouble, but am constantly mystified by it being considered a funny book.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:56 AM on December 4, 2019


And I'm not the target reading audience for Fleishman is in Trouble, but am constantly mystified by it being considered a funny book.

I mean, it's not not funny, I guess? And I don't think I'm in the target audience either -- all the characters are loathsome, their ambitions alien to me -- but for some reason I really enjoyed it; I was profoundly disappointed in myself when I finished reading it, because it is some straight-up, unapologetic bougie bullshit.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:43 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I mean, it's not not funny, I guess? And I don't think I'm in the target audience either -- all the characters are loathsome, their ambitions alien to me -- but for some reason I really enjoyed it; I was profoundly disappointed in myself when I finished reading it, because it is some straight-up, unapologetic bougie bullshit.

It's well written - the prose itself is engaging. I don't think worse of anyone for liking it, or that their opinion is wrong or anything (I, personally, did not). In some ways it is a good book club pick, because people seem to take a very different message from it depending on who they are, so you can get an interesting discussion (mine mostly revolved around reasonable tax rates on the rich). And it meant that I taught Mr. Dinty the phrase 'are the straights okay?', which is an extremely relevant phrase for that novel. I just don't remember it being funnier than your average book.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:08 AM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is awesome. But I have about 30 books on my Kobo I haven't even started.
posted by zardoz at 12:01 PM on December 4, 2019


Wow. How did I miss the fact that le Carre has out a novel that includes Brexit and Trump? I've put it on my reading cue, in case I ever finish 1Q84.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:57 PM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I was so excited for Fleishman is in Trouble because I love everything Taffy Brodesser-Akner has written for the New York Times but I had to quit this book halfway. Everyone was so very rich and so very miserable that I swerved widely between annoyed and exhausted.

posted by CatastropheWaitress at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Did anyone like Trust Exercise? I’m interested to hear from a regular person who can tell me what they liked about it. It’s on all these year-end lists and just won the freaking National Book Award and I thought it was awful, and not even in an interesting way.
posted by something something at 3:48 PM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I liked Trust Exercise, even if I guess I'm not a regular person because I was in a cult of personality elite program in high school.

It's hard for me to explain what I really liked about it, but it had something to do with the first two narrators being unreliable, the second one referring to the first one being one with "you left out the most important part" when she herself does it, and then the third one upending everything and explaining a lot more without herself pretending to have any insight. The slight annoyance I had about something in the first part was revealed to be completely intentional, in order to show that it was written by a not great writer, but it wasn't an in-your-face bad writing style. There was also the very cutting scene in the restaurant which made me never want to open up to anybody ever again about anything.
posted by queensissy at 4:21 PM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


How convenient that cross-sorting by memoir/biography and seriously great writing brings up Carolyn Forché's memoir, which I had heard mention of recently and had wanted to put in on my list but don't really have anything as organized as an actual "list" of books I want to read because it would just be too damn depressing (and also because I very often hear mention of books that sound interesting while listening to public radio in the car). I had a copy of The Country Between Us as an undergraduate, but it appears I decluttered it at some point in the intervening 30 years.
posted by drlith at 5:14 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this! I missed the memo somehow about the new Don Winslow book - I really loved The Power of the Dog, so I’ll have to tuck that away for the next time I’m in the mood for a door stopper.
posted by tautological at 6:42 PM on December 4, 2019


Does it bother anyone else to see NPR employees’ books on this list? There were only two—one of which I liked—but even though it was a very small minority, something about that rubbed me the wrong way.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:32 AM on December 5, 2019


Eh, I'm fine with it. The blurbs are very clear that the authors are NPR employees, the books were also very well received by other review sites, and the one I read I liked, too. There's always going to be some bias in reviews, and I'd rather they be explicit about that bias than pretend it doesn't exist or overcorrect.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:03 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I loved Trust Exercise, but it’s worth noting that i’m both an ex-theatre kid and love a book that messes with your head. For context, my favorite book of 2018 was Anna Burns’ Milkman, which i stopped recommending to people because so many people i love hated it. Like viscerally. I also loved Mona Awad’s Bunny, which came out this year, and will definitely alienate your book club, if you’re into that kind of thing.
posted by thivaia at 6:33 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ah, I hated Milkman too. Interesting!
posted by something something at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2019




Hi! For what it's worth, I believe NPR staff books can only be picked by outside people (mine was picked by a librarian and Aarti's by an outside critic) -- based on what I know from other projects, they would never let someone who worked here pick a book by someone else who worked here. I didn't know the book would be in the concierge, they didn't tell me, and I didn't ask, so I think we all try to do it in the most professional way possible. I'm pretty sure the call just goes out for people to pick books, so the question is really whether they should prohibit an outside person from picking my book or Aarti's, which I would totally understand! But I'm glad it didn't happen, obviously, because it means a lot to me.

Anyway: That's just insight into the process. I can totally understand feeling a variety of ways about it.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:54 AM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm thanked in the acknowledgements for Riverland, so I guess it's time to read it. Whoops!

Happily, my library has it on Hoopla.
posted by suelac at 11:17 AM on December 5, 2019


Four String Riot, thank you to you and the team for doing all this work - and thank you for linking to the how we did it post, which is fascinating. I seem to remember similar posts from previous years. And the About page is also delightful.

I've discovered some of my favorite books from the Book Concierge lists. This is a wonderful project.

Tip for fellow fans: If you haven't exhausted all the previous years already, start with 2017 or 2016 to find books that are less likely to have long wait times at your local library.
posted by kristi at 6:56 AM on December 6, 2019


Also, can I just say how fabulous it is that this includes children's books? How else would I ever learn about Mr. Wuffles?
posted by kristi at 7:32 AM on December 6, 2019


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