The NY Times’ Top Ten Books: A Tipping Point?

A few days ago we noticed that the shortlist for the Guardian award for a first book was 80% female.  Now there’s the NY Times list of the 10 Best Books of 2010; it’s  60% female.  Is the tipping point being reached? 

As Malcolm Gladwell points out, the notion of a tipping point comes from epidemiology, and it originally was used for the transition from a relatively few scattered infections to an epidemic.  Applied here it might mean that all those years of criticising lists of “the best” books for their failure to represent women’s work have actually gotten those with some control over the public culture to recognize that women too can write outstanding books. 

This list will appear in the Dec. 12 print edition of the {NY Times} Book Review.

Fiction

FREEDOM
By Jonathan Franzen.
THE NEW YORKER STORIES
By Ann Beattie.
ROOM
By Emma Donoghue.
SELECTED STORIES
By William Trevor.
A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD
By Jennifer Egan.

Nonfiction

APOLLO’S ANGELS: A History of Ballet
By Jennifer Homans.

CLEOPATRA: A Life
By Stacy Schiff.

THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES: A Biography of Cancer
By Siddhartha Mukherjee.
FINISHING THE HAT: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, ­Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
By Stephen Sondheim.
THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson.

3 thoughts on “The NY Times’ Top Ten Books: A Tipping Point?

  1. Well, I am happy to see women tipping the NY Times and Guardian Top 10 book lists, but can we stop a moment and ask why there is a mania for rank ordering everything, and how rank ordering so often disadvantages women, because it reflects already firmed-entrenched heirarchies of value and opinion? So by all means, let’s tip in favor of women, but can we stop rank ordering absolutely every damn kind of thing?

  2. I am not trying to be offencive but why are you womens always trying to consume whole books rather than read one sentence or idea and develop it in your own way. It’s way healthier for your mentality and understanding of world.And if you can’t stop reading books that are huge the least don’t read the twice.
    I wish you success with your cause.

  3. Donna, I’m not sure that this is a case literally of rank ordering, but you point certainly extends to lists of “the best.” I think it would be very interesting to really examine what goes on with such things. Many of us will be going in for such ordering with job candidates and student applications. Given how clueless so many are about the fallibility and bias-infested nature of their judgments, the whole thing needs examining.

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