A MARTINEZ, BYLINE: It can be daunting to pick out a good book. You hear all about these buzzy titles with scintillating reviews, and it's still hard to actually settle on what to read next. Well, lucky for you, we have got your literary back because our yearly book recommendation tool is back to help ease some of that choice paralysis. And this year, we're calling it Books We Love. And here to tell us some more about it is NPR's Andrew Limbong, reporter on our culture desk and host of NPR's new Book Of The Day podcast.
Andrew, so this tradition is a few years old by now. But tell the listeners who have never heard about it what this tool is because it's so much more than just a top 10 list of the best books.
ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Yeah. So, like, right about now is when everyone's, like, best-of lists come out, right?
LIMBONG: And this is, like, kind of a response to that. It's actually just a collection of books - this year, nearly 370 - that come recommended by NPR staff and critics. Now, like, 370 - that number's kind of intimidating, but there are these, like, little filters on the side that you can use to trim it down and find what really suits the mood you're going for. And, you know, there's the usual sort of classifications of nonfiction or thrillers, but you can also filter for - I don't know - like, book club ideas and books about families or books that center women or my favorite filters, which are the rather long and rather short ones. And you can stack these filters on top of each other, too, to really hammer down on the vibe you're looking for.
MARTINEZ: All right, so talk/walk us through an example.
LIMBONG: (Laughter) Yeah, yeah. So I've got two nieces I'm visiting next month - right? - who are 6 and 7. And, you know, let's say Uncle Andrew wants to get them some biographies. I can filter for kids books and for biography and memoir. And that gets me three choices and two that hit the age range I'm going for. One is called "Nina," which is just a beautifully illustrated book about Nina Simone. And the other is "Nicky & Vera," a really touching book about a businessman who saves a young Czech girl during World War II.
MARTINEZ: And, Andrew, I've been told the staff picks are really popular.
LIMBONG: Yeah. Hands-down, staff picks are the most popular filter every year. And it gets you recommendations and blurbs from hosts and reporters and producers here at NPR. You know, it's a - it's kind of like the little table in front of every bookstore with the recommended titles and stuff.
So let's say I'm looking for a staff pick for my book club, right? I can hit those filters. And let's find something in the historical fiction realm. That gets me 11 books, one of which is "The Personal Librarian," which is a fictionalized tale about J.P. Morgan's librarian in the 20th century, who was a big-deal socialite who was passing as white, actually. And that comes recommended by Karen Grigsby Bates, a correspondent over at Code Switch.
MARTINEZ: On top of Books We Love, NPR also has a new Book Of The Day podcast, and you're the host. Tell us all about it.
LIMBONG: Yeah. If the 370 isn't enough for you and you want a daily book recommendation, we've got this podcast. It's called Book Of The Day. And we sort of round up all of NPR's book coverage from the week and pick out some memorable and choice interviews with writers and poets and novelists, just to give you, like, a quick, little taste of whatever's going on in book world.
MARTINEZ: Now, Andrew, we should say that one of our colleagues recently passed - Petra Mayer. She was your editor on the podcast and a huge force behind the Books We Love tool.
LIMBONG: Yeah. I mean, she should really be the one here excitedly telling you about all these books and recommending them. She was actually one of the original architects of this thing, you know? And if you look at all of the books we've got on Books We Love, you can see this wide variety of genres represented, right? It's - there's romance and sci-fi, fantasy, graphic novels. And all of that is really thanks to Petra.
MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Andrew Limbong. Andrew, thank you very much.
LIMBONG: Thank you.
MARTINEZ: And you can find the Books We Love at npr.org/bookswelove.
(SOUNDBITE OF BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO'S "GOT ME WRONG")
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