I’ve spent lots of time scouring this year’s "Best of" lists, and I thought I should pass along what I have learned. These are not my recommendations (though I often approve), these are what I have gleaned from the recommendations of media critics. They are my judgment of the most common selections on the "Best of" lists, noting that I did not check the lists from publications I do not enjoy and thus there is an implicit filter being applied.
So here is my aggregation:
1. Non-fiction book: Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise.
2. Fiction book: Tree of Smoke, or The Savage Detectives.
2. Miscellaneous book: Letters of Ted Hughes. Everyone loves this, I haven’t read it yet.
3. Movie: No Country for Old Men. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly gets lots of picks, given that it is playing in only two cities.
4. Classical CD: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Sings Peter Lieberson, "Neruda Songs." Read the excellent Ed Uyeshima review on Amazon, it is first.
5. Popular music: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver, or possibly Neon Bible, by Arcade Fire.
I still can’t figure out the consensus jazz CD of the year. Any help?
I might add that the non-meta me basically approves of this list, with two caveats. First, the Lieberson CD, while quite good, in part received so many mentions because the singer, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, met a young and tragic death this last year. It was her husband who composed these songs for her. Second, I don’t myself have clear picks for popular music. I do a lot of my popular music buying in December, when the "Best of" lists come out. I did put on LCD Soundsystem this morning but was bored by it on first listening.