A Look Back on Last Year’s New York Times Best Books

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As the New York Times Book Review prepares to announce its list of 10 “Best Books” of 2018, the American Booksellers Association is encouraging booksellers to take a look at last year’s top titles and keep them in mind when thinking about backlist favorites to sell this holiday season.

The New York Times Book Review’s top 10 titles for 2018, to be announced later this week, will be selected from the Times’ list of 100 Notable Books of the Year. Titles chosen for the final list, as selected by Book Review editors, embody excellence on a number of fronts, including in the author’s ambition, execution of vision, quality of language, and storytelling power.

Booksellers are also reminded to visit the ABA Book Buyer’s Handbook to review ongoing publisher and university press offers for Indies First as well as publishers’ current special offers. ABA’s Backlist Buying Calculator, which debuted last year, can help booksellers evaluate the advantages of backlist offers. (A username and login are required to access these items; booksellers can e-mail info@bookweb.org for login details.)

The New York Times10 Best Books of 2017, as announced on Thursday, November 30, 2017, were:


  • Autumn by Ali Smith (Pantheon Books)
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books)
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central Publishing)
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman (Little, Brown & Company)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)


  • The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — and Us by Richard O. Prum (Doubleday)
  • Grant by Ron Chernow (Penguin Press)
  • Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company)
  • Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead Books)

The Best Illustrated Children’s Books were selected by a panel of three judges: author and illustrator Steven Guarnaccia, an associate professor of illustration at Parsons/The New School for Design; author and illustrator Marjorie Priceman, winner of two Caldecott Honors and two New York Times Best Illustrated Books Awards; and Louise Lareau, the head librarian of the New York Public Library Children’s Center.

The Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2017, as announced on Thursday, November 2, 2017, were:

  • Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum)
  • Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra (NorthSouth)
  • On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna (HarperCollins)
  • Plume by Isabelle Simler (Eerdmans)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Stacy Innerst (Abrams)
  • The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi (KidsCan)
  • Town Is By the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Groundwood)
  • A River by Marc Martin (Chronicle)
  • King of the Sky by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (Candlewick)
  • Feather by Rémi Courgeon (Enchanted Lion)