Julia Keller is of two minds about year-end "best of" lists—which are even more numerous and annoying than usual in this, the final year of the decade. She admits to reading them, "and I further confess that I sometimes enjoy arguing silently with them." But "the infamous, diabolical, excruciating yet unavoidable tradition" get her down for a curious reason: As a professional critic, their retrospective nature makes her miss "the passion of the nervous, risky, itchy present."
"They're about yesterday's yearning," the Pulitzer Prize winner writes for the Chicago Tribune. "Compiling them is a bit like trying to remember why you used to be in love with so-and-so." And having said all that, even she can't resist sharing her pick for best book of 2009. David Eagleman's Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives is "a collection of pungent, lyrical fictions about what might follow our short sojourns here on Earth." To read an excerpt, click here.