Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

The Artist Formerly Known as…The Best Recommended


LAST NOVEMBER, the NBCC launched The Best Recommended List, a project we hope becomes an alternative for bestseller lists. Why do we need another option? Well, for starters, bestseller lists reflect what people are buying, not what they’re reading, let alone enjoying.

We wanted to know—what new books were smart readers actually passing on to one another? To figure this out we polled the NBCC’s 800 member critics, as well as the former finalists and winners of our book prize, asking: what 2007 or early 2008 book have you read recently that you’re recommending?

Over 500 writers and critics answered, and when we tallied their votes it created a Best Recommended List. In addition to lists of the 5 most recommended titles, we posted the name of any book which received more than one vote in longlists for fiction, nonfiction and poetry —along with comments by other voters.

On this Tuesday, February 5th, we’re going to launch the next Best Recommended List, with a new name: The NBCC’s Good Reads—Winter List. Thanks to nomenclature consultant Carole Goldberg, whose last minute light bulb brought an end to hours of deliberations by the board.

We’d love for you to be part of the NBCC’s Good Reads discussion. So starting on February 5th, the NBCC is sponsoring 15 events in 15 different cities—from Washington DC to Washington State—to discuss the list, our 2007 book prize finalists as well as recommendations at large. We want to know: how do you choose what to read? Does it matter where these recommendations come from?

Here is the list of panels below. Come out and tell us what you’re reading.

February 5th

Books and Books,

265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables
8:30 PM: (305) -442-4408

Come hear recent NBCC finalist Edwidge Danticat with novelists Ana Menendez and Diana Abu- Jaber, and NBCC members Chauncey Mabe & Connie Ogle as they talk about how they pick what to read, and the recommendations which have mattered to them (or annoyed them) over the years.

Los Angeles
Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave.
7:30 PM: (323) 660-1175

Join NBCC winning poet Amy Gerstler with novelists Katherine Taylor and Darcy Cosper, and members Mark Sarvas and Veronique de Turenne for a discussion about reading, recommendations and how books travel one person to the next.

February 6th

Harvard Bookstore
at the Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA
6:00 PM: (617) -661-1515

Two-time NBCC finalist and former poet laureate Robert Pinsky joins psychologist Steven Pinker, novelist Leslie Epstein, and poet, board member and Balakian award winning critic Maureen McLane in a discussion about reading and recommending, moderated by former board member and Boston Globe writer, David Mehegan.

February 10th

Lawrence, KS
The Lawrence Arts Center
940 Hampshire Street, Lawrence
2 PM: (785) 843-2787

Join Kansas poet laureate and NBCC member Denise Low for a conversation with Pat Kehde, owner of the independent bookstore, The Raven, and NBCC members Kathleen Johnson and John Mark Eberhart, editor of the Kansas City Star book pages, on what they read and why.

February 11th

Portland, OR
Powell’s Bookstore
1005 W. Burnside
7:30 PM: (800) 878-7323

Please join NBCC board member, Ellen Heltzel, authors Katherine Dunn, Chelsea Cain, and Peter Rock, and Community of Writers founder Larry Colton for a discussion on good books, good reviews, and how much difference reviews make.

February 12th

Dallas, TX
Barnes & Noble
7700 West Northwest Highwy
7:00 PM: (214) 739-1124

Join Dallas Morning News book page editor Michael Merschel with a discussion with PEN/Hemingway award winning short story writer, Ben Fountain, NPR book columnist Tom Dodge, author and NBCC member Walton Muyumba, and poet Isabel Nathaniel.

February 13th

Sacramento, CA
Barnes & Noble
1725 Arden Way
7:30 PM: (916) 565-0644

Novelist Karen Joy Fowler joins historian Gregory Clark in a discussion with Sacramento News & Review arts coorespondents Kel Munger and Jonathan Kiefor about reading and recommending, and where the best book discussion takes place.

February 16th

Washington, DC
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
1 PM: (800)-722-0790

A panel discussion of the National Book Critics Circle Awards and recommendations at large with member Bethanne Patrick, former Balakian winner Scott McLemee, Louis Bayard, Balakian finalist and Washington Post staff writer Ron Charles, and NBCC finalist poet Michael Collier

Sag Harbor, NY
Canio’s Books
290 Main Street
6PM: (631) 725-4926

NBCC board member Jane Ciabattari will moderate the discussion, with panelists including NBCC Sandrof Award winner Bill Henderson, Founder/Editor of Pushcart Press; NBCC member, poet and biographer, Ed Butscher, NBCC member and poet, Grace Schulman, and novelist Hilma Wolitzer about how they pick what we read.

February 18th

Seattle, WA
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way, NE
time tbd: (206)-366-3333

Join NBCC winner Jonathan Raban, board member and Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Weekly editor Brian Miller, and former NBCC fiction finalist Charles Johnson for a discussion about reading and recommendations.

February 22nd

Manchester Center, VT
Northshire Books
4869 Main Street
7 PM: (802) 362-2200

Join Vermont poet (and NBCC finalist) Major Jackson, author and social critic James Kunstler, Vermont novelist Ellen Lesser, Northshire master bookseller Robert Gray, and NBCC member, critic and novelist Joseph Olshan for a discussion about how they choose what to read, and the recommendations which have mattered to them.

February 27th

Joseph Fox Bookshop at Friends Select
17th at Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Join NBCC member and moderator Jen A. Miller for an evening of discussing the fine art of making a recommendation with Philadelphia Inquirer book editor Frank Wilson, novelist Kermit Roosevelt, and authors to come.

Dates still to be determined

Joseph Beth Books

Panelists likely to include NBCC members Karen Long, Ron Antucci, novelist Sarah Willis and others

Quail Ridge Books

Panelists likely to include former NBCC board member Peder Zane, Raleigh News & Observer book editor Marcy Smith, and former NBCC finalist Alan Shapiro

New York City