PW Top Books of 2009

As I mentioned in a post the other day, this is the hey-day of "top books" lists for 2009. Right before the holiday season, so most publishers have released their titles for the year (or announced them, no less), and just in time for recommendations for gift giving... can you believe it's gift-giving time already?

But not everything is smooth going in the world of "top lists." Publisher's Weekly announced their top 10 books of 2009 last week to much criticism: all ten authors were male. (View the list here.)

PW claims that they judged the books without taking author gender into consideration, but opposing parties claim that this is just their way of covering up their blatant bias. Quite frankly, I think the whole argument makes us miss the point.

Regardless of whether or not PW took gender into consideration (and really, one would hope that as such a beacon of the industry they would review on merit, and nothing else), the real problem posed by this situation is the lack of women on the list. Not because PW is biased, however, or chauvinistic, or anything else feminist critics might have you believe, but because there are either no books qualified, or not enough books qualified that they stood out to the reviewers.

After all, we know that no "top 10" list can be comprehensive, and we know that these lists are subjective. We should be disappointed by the lack of candidates, or lack of dearth of candidates, instead of bickering about the bias of the reviewers.

The organization of Women in Letters and Literary Arts has released a response, with a list of top books by females in 2009.

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