By Stephan Lee
Updated November 30, 2011 at 09:44 PM EST

Last week, the New York Times named its 100 finalists for best books of the year, and now that they’ve whittled their picks down to the 10 best, there are a few surprises. Stephen King’s commercial time-travel novel, 11/22/63, made the list, and Jeffrey Eugenides’ much-anticipated, generally well received yet somewhat polarizing novel The Marriage Plot was edged out. Karen Russell’s zany Swamplandia! is a quirky but not at all unusual choice, and of course, year-end lists always celebrate the new and the splashy, so expect Chad Harbach and 26-year-old Téa Obreht’s heralded debuts to continue racking up the “Best Of” honors.

There are fewer oddballs in the nonfiction category. Malcolm X by the late Manning Marable was arguably the favorite to win the National Book Award for Nonfiction this year — that honor went to Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve, which doesn’t appear in this top 10. See the full list below, in alphabetical order:


The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht


Arguably by Christopher Hitchens

The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

A World on Fire by Amanda Foreman

What’s your take, Shelf-Lifers? Are you surprised by any of the titles included or not included?