DDG will be 25 this year! One idea I had to mark the occasion was to pick one book of the year for each of our 25 years from 1991-2015. It’s a difficult topic and I decided to talk theory with the world’s greatest expert on the topic, The Librarian of Years, who has been gracious enough to speak with me before.
Kenny: Hi there. Thanks for helping out here!
Librarian of Years: Absolutely!
Kenny: First of all, is the selection of a book of the Year, something you do personally?
Librarian of Years: Oh yes, we have an entire Library wing dedicated to them!
Kenny: Great! My main question involves selection philosophy. For example in 1991 I have good memories of both Griffin and Sabine, which was such a big book that year, but also of Possession, which came out in paperback that year, and is the first new release I remember hand selling with abandon.
Librarian of Years: Good question. I use a selection tool I call Relational Resonance. Think of howa particular song or piece of music, which you listened to a great deal while reading a particular book, will strongly bring back the memory of being inside that book when you hear the song again.
Librarian of Years: Books are like those songs pertaining to years, and you should choose the book which resonates most strongly in relation to your own memory of the bookstore..
Kenny: Thanks that’s very helpful. I must admit though that I still find the selection process unclear in some cases. For example in 1998 I am torn between Ex Libris, by Anne Fadiman, an all time favorite hand sell, and Rebecca Rupp’s The Dragon of Lonely Island, another store favorite. You see when The Dragon of Lonely Island went out of print I went on a campaign lobbying for it to come back. I hear from my Candlewick rep at the time, Deb Woodward, that a store I’d never heard of at the time, the Flying Pig had been lobbying for that independently. Candlewick heeded our dual plea and the book was reprinted and is still in print, and the owners of the Flying Pig became close friends with me.
Librarian of Years: That is a toughie, but I could see, even as you were asking your question, that you knew what you had to do.
Kenny: Right again. Thanks so much for your help.
Librarian of Years:My pleasure. And good luck with your list.
All right then here is my list of the Books of the Years. Agree, disagree? Let me know your picks below!
1991 Possession, A.S. Byatt
1992 Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Peter Hoeg
1993 The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
1994 Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
1995 The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
1996 The Debt to Pleasure, John Lanchester
1997 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, that Rowling woman.
1998 The Dragon of Lonely Island, Rebecca Rupp
1999 The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
2000 The Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke
2001 River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, Peter Hessler
2002 A Story for Bear, Dennis Haseley
2003 The Amulet of Samarkand, Jonathan Stroud
2004 Utterly Me, Clarice Bean, Lauren Child
2005 Temple Stream, Bill Roorbach
2006 The Arrival, Shaun Tan
2007 The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
2008 The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
2009 The Angel’s Game, Carlos Ruiz
2010 The Passage, Justin Cronin
2011 The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
2012 When We Were the Kennedys, Monica Wood
2013 The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown
2014 The Glass Sentence, S.E. Grove
2015 Seveneves, Neal Stephenson