January Magazine’s selections of the best books of the year tends to be one of the publication’s editorial highlights and has been for the last 11 years that we’ve been doing it. For one thing, the feature is so much work. For everyone. Partly because you’re walking down paths you’ve traveled before, and so now you’re rethinking something you’d already thought and put aside. It’s an interesting process.
The other thing that makes the best books of the year feature very labor intensive on the management side is just wrestling with this huge, multi-faceted piece. We talk about books in every area we cover -- which is basically everything outside of Christian and computer books -- and all of our writers have to be corresponded with, there’s a certain amount of editing involved, covers and publishing information have to be run down and placed... all in all it’s a lot of work.
And then it’s done. And you sit back on your haunches and you look it all over and you see the connections and the trends and it enables you to do a bit of crystal ball gazing, just based on the year you’ve just revisited with such intensity. It’s a fantastic process and, one way and another, it never fails to take my breath away.
The fact that contributing editor Ali Karim chose Death Was in the Picture as one of his picks for best of the year in crime fiction came as a total surprise to me and a real delight. I’m involved with all of the planning for January’s best of the year feature, but I have virtually nothing to do with the crime fiction component: all of that is lovingly slaved over by January’s senior editor and Rap Sheet editor, J. Kingston Pierce. This year I didn’t see the crime fiction pages of the feature until they went live on New Year’s eve and then it was a real gratifying rush to see that it had been included.
January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009 feature -- complete with my reflections on the year that was -- is here.