Does Anyone find these things at all helpful?
Over at "Thirsty" the Biblioasis http://biblioasis.blogspot.com/2007/12/globe-100-plus.html Dan Wells complains About the Globe 100 list of "best" books of the year. He is disappointed that the so-called "small" publishers, in spite of receiving excellent reviews for their books, tend to get shafted in these year-end assessments. It's hard to disagree.
The lists certainly afford ("afford" being the optimal word here) certain publishers one last chance (after awards season failure) to plaster a gold star on their book covers, and not uncoincidentally, another opportunity to advertise their books in the newspaper in time for the Christmas rush ie. "chosen one of the 100 best books etc."
What does making the list mean from a reviewer's standpoint? Not much according to Bookninja's George Murray who has contributed book reviews to the Globe & Mail but has never been consulted for a top 100 list. He writes, "The thing I find funny about the 100 is that the reviewers themselves aren’t consulted. Reviews I’ve written in the past have led to 100 listings, but I only found out by opening the paper in December."
I've never found these lists particularly useful as either gift-purchasing guides or as a guides for my own future reading. The tongue in cheek approach employed by TyeeBooks.ca seems more appropriate. Their list is less self-important, more adventuresome and definitely more fun, with lots of "small" press recommendations too. Here's the link to last year's Christmas list: http://thetyee.ca/Books/2006/12/19/Booked/ I look forward to this year's installment from them.