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We'll be adding new lists from our critics throughout the holiday season.

Year-End Fiction Wrap-Up: The 10 Best Novels Of 2011()  

Illustration: Birds wrap a book in red paper.

December 14, 2011 2011 was a terrific year for fiction — both from first-time novelists and much-decorated veterans. Maureen Corrigan's recommendations range from Karen Russell's dazzling debut, to David Foster Wallace's posthumously published novel, to what may be the Sept. 11 novel.


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What Sticks: Five 2011 Books That Stay With You()  

Illustration: Magnetic books

December 1, 2011 This year, the best books are those that remain with readers long after they turn the last page. Whether a sprawling nonfiction narrative, a riveting first novel or a wrenching memoir, these keepers are unforgettable.


Conversation Starters: 2011's Top 5 Book Club Picks()  

Illustration: Best Book Club Books

December 7, 2011 These character-driven novels featuring fracturing families, intrepid scientists and one very plucky early American heroine will spark lively debate on everything from the unreliability of memory to scientific ethics.


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7 Books With Personality: Nancy Pearl's 2011 Picks()  

Illustration: A man steps out of a book to shake hands.

December 13, 2011 NPR's go-to librarian would like you to meet some friends of hers — from six novels and one work of history. As you read, these artfully developed characters will become more and more real. Pearl says that when the stories ended, she was left longing for the people she'd met between the pages.


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Booksellers' Picks: Catch The Year's Freshest Reads()  

Illustrations: Penguins ice fish for books.

December 9, 2011 Susan Stamberg gathers recommendations for the season's best books from independent booksellers Lucia Silva, Rona Brinlee and Daniel Goldin. This winter, their top picks range in subject from toasters to typeface, odd bookmarks to old Volkswagens, department stores to pasta design.


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Fired Up: The Year's Best Science Fiction And Fantasy()  

Illustration: A dragon protects her books.

December 15, 2011 Science fiction and fantasy books aren't just getting more popular, they're interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms — swapping DNA with literary novels, commenting on current events, morphing into historical science fiction romances, and evolving into hard-boiled detective fantasy.


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A Passion For The Past: 2011's Best Historical Fiction()  

Best historical fiction of 2011

December 16, 2011 These five outstanding novels take us to unfamiliar eras and exotic locales — ancient Israel, Elizabethan England, 1920s Paris — while confirming our common humanity.


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The Teens Are All Right: 2011's Top 5 YA Novels()  

Teen reads a book

December 19, 2011 Young adult literature has never been so psychologically probing or artistically ambitious as it is today. Marissa Meyer's favorite novels beguile, thrill and, above all, transport younger readers to a Shakespearean magical theater, futuristic Chicago and a netherworld of ghost hunters.


The Lives Of Geniuses: Five Brilliant Biographies()  

Illustration: Sculpted busts of geniuses

December 20, 2011 These five books take us inside the minds of a founding father and the father of the iPod; the vexing artists who brought us Starry Night and Slaughterhouse-Five; and the couple whose scientific discoveries changed the world in awesome, and awful, ways.


Sherlockian Mysteries That Will Keep You Tied Up()  

Illustration: Man tied up reading a book.

November 28, 2011 Critic Maureen Corrigan selects two of the best new works of fiction and criticism about The Great Detective, and offers recommendations for terrific novels featuring contemporary investigators who carry forward Holmes' trademark method of detection: "an observance of trifles."


Plot Driven: Alan Cheuse's Top 5 Fiction Picks()  

Illustration: Books, coffee and glasses

November 29, 2011 Critic Alan Cheuse likes his books thoughtfully plotted — and 2011 has made him a happy reader. A tiger haunts, a teen flees, ballplayers dream and vampires reign in beautifully conceived stories from new and distinguished authors.


2011's Guilty Pleasures: Sex, Celebs And Rock 'N Roll()  

Illustration: A woman reads a book in the bathtub.

December 22, 2011 Susan Jane Gilman recommends behind-the-scenes reads about the rich and famous — by a rock star, a hotel concierge, a stuntman and a Brat Packer, all offering backstage passes to their glamorous lives. Entertaining and star-studded, they make for perfect holiday escapism — with a cocktail (or two) in hand.


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Staff Picks: The Best Music Books Of 2011()  

Illustration: A music staff with books on it.

December 28, 2011 The NPR Music staff presents 12 titles that range from the art of album covers to disco to Def Jam to metal to MTV. This year, our favorite music reads were mostly revealing biographies and wide-spanning analyses.


Truth And Beauty: 2011's Best American Poetry()  

Book vines

December 29, 2011 Critic David Orr surveys the "jumbled landscape" of American poetry to select his favorite collections of the year: five books that will alternately comfort and challenge you.


From Tiny To Tome, The Best Gift Books Of 2011()  

Illustration: Books wrapped up to be given as gifts.

December 6, 2011 There's a difference between great books and great gift books, and these are the books to put bows on. Critic John McAlley presents 20 titles that span Harry Potter, Alexander McQueen, Annie Leibovitz, Mickey Mouse, the periodic table elements and the dictionary — something for everyone on your list.


Savage Beauty: The Top 3 Poems Of 2011()  

an open book in sepia colors and wooden background

December 30, 2011 Poet Tracy K. Smith's three favorite poems of 2011 blur the private and public, the personal and political, and will refresh how you look at language and the world.


2011's Best Cookbooks: Revenge Of The Kitchen Nerds()  

Illustration: Chef holds a tray of freshly baked books.

November 22, 2011 Culinary scholars and serious home cooks share their hard-won wisdom in 11 new cookbooks. They've spent years toiling in the kitchen, and now these experts are here to help you perfect your roast, indulge your sweet tooth or feed your 12-year-old.



Six Graphic Novels That Will Draw You In()  

Illustration: a hand drawing a man reading a book.

December 21, 2011 Critic Dan Kois selects the standout graphic novels of the year, which include books from France and Japan, explicit picaresques, hard-boiled mysteries, memoirs, fairy tales and new twists on old classics.


Top 5 Books For Backseat Readers (Age 9 And Up)()  

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club

December 8, 2011 Since starting NPR's Backseat Book Club, Michele Norris has been swimming in "kid lit." The five stories on her year-end list will seep into your heart and leave you thinking about the characters long after you've turned the final pages.


The Best Books Of 2011: The Complete List()  

Illustration: bird holds books in its beak.

November 20, 2011 Get all of NPR's 2011 book recommendations in one place! Here's a list of the year's best reads — including recommendations for mysteries, cookbooks, fiction and more.


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