NPR's Book Concierge Returns With More Than 260 Recommended Titles Petra Mayer, an editor at NPR Books, joins host Audie Cornish to talk about the latest edition the Book Concierge. It's a filterable list of great reads, recommended by NPR staff and book critics.

NPR's Book Concierge Returns With More Than 260 Recommended Titles

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We're getting to the end of the year. But when it comes to books, we here at NPR have a hard time picking our top 10 or 20 or even 100, so Petra Mayer, an editor at NPR Books, is here to talk about the latest edition of what we call the NPR Book Concierge. It sounds fancier than it is. It's actually - our network of reviewers and staff, including hosts like me have made our recommendations of the books we love this year and posted them online in an app people can play around with, right, Petra? How does it work?

PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: Absolutely. We're looking at it here in the studio right now. It's a giant matrix - more than 260 books. And along the left side of the screen, you'll see a list of different filters or tags. They have things like NPR Staff Picks, Seriously Great Writing, Historical Fiction. And you can mix and match them to kind of zero in on a book that might appeal to you.

CORNISH: Right. So we've got dozens and dozens of images of book covers here. And when you hover over a book cover, you get a little snippet of the review. And on the left, these tags - let's click on one of them - "Ladies First."

MAYER: That's new this year. I'm very excited about it.

CORNISH: And science fiction and fantasy, and, like, magic all the little cards flip over, and we see all these book covers, one of them "The Blondes" by Emily Schultz. Petra, tell us about it.

MAYER: Yeah. Well, the whole point of the Concierge is - it's a book discovery tool. And this is a book I actually discovered through the Concierge. I haven't read it yet, but it looks really cool. It's a social satire about a world in which a mysterious plague makes blonde women into rabid killers, which, you know, as a redhead, I find very interesting.


MAYER: And I'm looking forward to reading that, actually. It's on my pile.

CORNISH: And there are many other fun titles here. There's poetry and short stories - "It's All Geek To Me." I think there's one that's like "Let's Talk About Sex."

MAYER: Right, yeah (laughter).

CORNISH: Not going to click on that here in this short time we have.

MAYER: We've discovered that was a very popular tag in combination with mobile reading. So people were really looking at that tag, but they were really doing it on their phones. They weren't doing it, like, on their work computers or anywhere where anyone would find it.


CORNISH: OK, listeners, I'm not going to raise any questions...

MAYER: That's got a lot of...

CORNISH: ...About that.

MAYER: Yeah, that's got a lot of romance novels or anything that's, you know, particularly hot and heavy.

CORNISH: Well, before I let you go, were there any books that you guys all fought over the chance to review?

MAYER: Yeah. I didn't get to review my very favorite book of the year, which was "Uprooted" by Naomi Novik, a kind of updated version of "Beauty And The Beast." So many of our reviewers were fighting over that that I had to step back.

CORNISH: Well, this is a great start. Petra Mayer, thanks so much for talking with us.

MAYER: Absolutely, my pleasure.

CORNISH: Petra Mayer is an editor at NPR Books, and you can find the latest edition of the Book Concierge we just talked about along with links to past years at

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