Last week Critical Mass, the blog of the National Book Critics Circle, launched a Best Recommended List for 2007 books–culled from votes of more than 300 NBCC members (myself included) and more than one hundred former finalists and winners of their award. For a list of writers, including Monica Ali, Simon Winchester, and Aleksandar Hemon, please click here.

Critics and writers were asked to recommend one work each of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that they’ve recently read, then the recs were tallied to create a top five in each category.

Critical Mass plans to produce a monthly Most Recommended list in the new year as an alternative to U.S. bestseller lists, which will then be sent out to newspapers and magazines for publication, as well as libraries, bookstores, blogs–anywhere writers and readers congregate.

Here’s the Best Recommended of 2007:


1. Junot Diaz
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
2. Denis Johnson
Tree of Smoke
3. Michael Chabon
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
4. Philip Roth
Exit Ghost
5. Per Petterson
Out Stealing Horses


1. Edwidge Danticat
Brother, I’m Dying
2. Alan Weisman
The World Without Us
3. Naomi Klein
The Shock Doctrine
4. David Michaelis
Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography
5. Tim Weiner
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

1. Robert Hass
Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005
2. Zbigniew Herbert
The Collected Poems: 1956-1998
3. Robert Pinsky
Gulf Music
4. Rae Armantrout
Next Life
5. Mary Jo Bang

*There was a three-way tie for first place in poetry