Talking About the 10 Best Books of 2020

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For the third year in a row, editors at The New York Times got together (via Zoom this time around) for a live taping of the podcast to discuss the Book Review’s list of the year’s 10 Best Books. (If you haven’t seen the list yet and don’t want spoilers before listening, the choices are revealed one by one on the podcast.)

“For us, a Best Book is a book that stands on the merits of its prose and its storytelling, and succeeds on the terms that the author sets out for it,” says Pamela Paul, the editor of The New York Times Book Review, as part of her introductory remarks about what the editors look for in their selections. “It’s a book that might be of the moment, but it’s a book that we also think transcends the moment and will stand the test of time.”

In addition to the 10 Best Books, the editors discuss on this episode some of their favorite works from the year that didn’t make the list. Here are those additional books the editors discuss:

“The Undocumented Americans” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

“The Bass Rock” by Evie Wyld

“Just Us” by Claudia Rankine

“Owls of the Eastern Ice” by Jonathan C. Slaght

“Jack” by Marilynne Robinson

“Cleanness” by Garth Greenwell

“The Death of Vivek Oji” by Akwaeke Emezi

“Hurricane Season” by Fernanda Melchor

“Eat the Buddha” by Barbara Demick

“The WEIRDest People in the World” by Joseph Henrich

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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