In the old days, when a book came out it just had to compete with other books. But these days a book has to compete not only with other books, but also with blog posts and tweets and tumblrs and everything else in written form. There's only so much that readers feel like reading, and as a result, every year many good books get lost under a tide of prose. How many times does a writer go to a party and someone asks, "When is your book coming out?" And the answer is, "Uh, six months ago." And then there's an awkward, horrible silence, and the person asking the question mutters something and rushes off to refresh his drink.
The publication of every good book should ideally be met with a triumphal, trumpet fanfare. But that doesn't always happen. I looked back over many of the books that have been published this year and selected five that deserve a little more fanfare.