That’s the Year

The Best of the Best Books List: 2013 Critics’ Top Picks

What do critics think are the year’s top books? No need to take our word for what to read or give—we’ve aggregated everyone’s lists (40 of them) to give you a ranked ultimate guide.

Every December, the Internet is flooded with year-end best of lists. As we do every year, we tabulated the critics’s lists—40 of them, including Book Beast’s own—tallying up how many times each book was cited as one of the year’s best. The consensus pick for fiction: George Saunder’s Tenth of December. For non-fiction: Jill Lepore’s Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. Here’s the complete list:


1. Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders (15 votes)2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (14 votes)3. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (12 votes)4. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (9 votes)

5. (tie) The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (8 votes)5. (tie) The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (8 votes)

7. (tie) The Circle by Dave Eggers (7 votes)7. (tie) The Son by Philip Meyer (7 votes)7. (tie) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (7 votes)

10. (tie) Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (6 votes)10. (tie) The Signature of All Things by Elisabeth Gilbert (6 votes)10. (tie) The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (6 votes)


1. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore (8 votes)

2. (tie) Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (7 votes)2. (tie) Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward (7 votes)

4. (tie) Gabriele d’Annunzio: Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallet (6 votes)4. (tie) Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee (6 votes)

6. (tie) Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser (5 votes)6. (tie) Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink (5 votes)6. (tie) The Unwinding by George Packer (5 votes)6. (tie) Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel (5 votes)6. (tie) Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands by Charles Moore (5 votes)6. (tie) Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air by Richard Holmes (5 votes)

10. (tie) Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (4 votes)10. (tie) The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon (4 votes)10. (tie) The Bully Pulpit: : Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin (4 votes)

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Lists we looked at: The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, Entertainment Weekly (Fiction), Entertainment Weekly (Fiction), Publishers Weekly, Newsday, Esquire, The Observer’s Books of the Year, The Observer’s Books of the Year, The Guardian (Politics), The Guardian (Music), The Guardian (Food), The Guardian (Crime and Thrillers), The Guardian (Fiction), The Observer’s Books of the Year, The Guardian (Writers and Critics), Time (Fiction), Time (Non-Fiction), The Telegraph (Fiction), The Telegraph (History), The Telegraph (Biography), The Telegraph (Politics), Jonathan Yardley, Maureen Corrigan (NPR), Kathryn Schultz (New York Magazine), The Economist, Barnes and Noble (Non-Fiction), Barnes and Noble (Fiction), Slate, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, The New Republic, The Kansas City Star, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Christian-Science Monitor, Vogue, Flavorwire and Lucas Wittmann (The Daily Beast)