BEFORE the internet, book recommendations traveled at the rate of sound. You had to talk to someone to pass on word about what to read. Or read it in a review. Or write a letter. Now you can go to the website of a newspaper, a magazine, or a literary blog to find out what's new and what's good.
But with all this connectivity, it felt like a moment had yet to be seized about finding out what a lot of people said was good. And what better people to ask than award winning novelists, historians, poets, critics and biographers?
These are the pie-in-the-sky notions that prompted the National Book Critics Circle to create a monthly Best Recommended List. Polling our nearly 800 members, as well as all the former finalists and winners of our book prize, we asked, What 2007 books have you read that you have truly loved?
Nearly 500 voters—from John Updike and Robert Hass to Carolyn Forche, Anne Tyler, Julia Alvarez and Cynthia Ozick—answered the call. Over 300 of our member critics voted as well. Starting in 2008, we plan to offer our Best Recommended List every month. Here is our inaugural list, with the five top vote getters in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry listed in order of votes received. (For the rules go here.)