25th Anniversary Books of the Years

Kenny Brechner - March 10, 2016

It’s a bookstore anniversary year for your ShelfTalker bloggers. Josie noted here in January that she and Elizabeth were preparing assiduously for the Flying Pig’s 20th anniversary. DDG will be 25 this year and we are in planning mode ourselves. One idea I had was to pick one book of the year for each of our 25 years, from 1991-2015. It’s a difficult process and I decided to talk theory with the world’s greatest expert on this sort of selection, The Librarian of Years, who has been gracious enough to speak with us here before.
Kenny: Thanks so much for helping out again!
Librarian of Years: Absolutely!
Kenny: First of all, is the selection of a single Book of the Year something you do personally?
Librarian of Years: Oh yes, we have an entire Library wing dedicated to displaying 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 handselling with abandon.

Librarian of Years: Good question. I use a selection tool I call Relational Resonance. Think of how a particular song or piece of music, which you listened to a great deal while reading a specific book, will strongly bring back the memory of being inside that book when you hear the song again.
Kenny: Sure!
Librarian of Years: Books are like those songs pertaining to years, and you should choose the book that resonates most strongly in relation to your own memory of the bookstore that year.
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 handsell, 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 heard 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.
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 final list. Have any of you made similar lists? Post them in the comments!
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

2 thoughts on “25th Anniversary Books of the Years

  1. Ellen Mager

    Kenny, Thanks for sharing. This was a great idea. I liked many of the choices, but especially missed Brian Selznick’s Invention of Hugo Cabret in 2007 and Pam Munoz Ryan’s Echo for 2015. I just started my 34th year and may try this with my customers…


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