At the end of the year, Santa isn't the only one making a list. NPR has released its compilation known as "Books We Love" since 2013. This year it's over 350 titles sourced from your favorite NPR personalities and those whose voices you might not hear, but whose work, you certainly have — editors, producers, and more. 

The list is displayed as an interactive webpage with cover images, filter options, and blurbs. WFDD's Bethany Chafin spoke with NPR Arts Desk Reporter and Book of the Day Host Andrew Limbong about NPR's 2023 Books We Love, which was released this week. 

Interview Highlights

On how the list first started in 2013:

"I think the goal was to create a more democratic take on the year-end list. We're coming to the end of the year, so every publication has their, 'Hear ye, hear ye, here are the 10 best books of the year' or something like that. The Books We Love list is is sort of different take on that. It's huge. I think this year, it's over 350 books we got going on. And it is a compilation of all of the best or favorite reads from staff, from our critics, you know, reporters, producers, editors, and all that stuff. ... There are these handy dandy little filters that help you narrow the books down to the perfect book for your choice or someone you love. ... We're not out here saying that these are the best or most important books or whatever. All we're saying is that if you're interested in finding something to read, you will find something here for you guaranteed."

On choosing the filters that help sort all the books:

"It's always a constant work in progress. It's a kind of fine-tuning process that, you know, things get added, things get dropped as we figure out what people like and I think obviously, the most popular one is the staff picks one. So that one always gets prominent placement because it is NPR staff but it's also our critics and all that stuff. So it's a little wider than just NPR. The staff picks is always the favorite one for people who just want to find out what like, Ari Shapiro is reading these days."

On books that take an in-depth look at very specific topics:

"There are a lot of these books that just go in on really particular things. You know, there's the one on ice, I'm definitely going to cop the book about pockets. You know, it's a sort of cultural examination about ... a very gendered thing like where you keep your wallet. But like another big one this year, it's actually a book about hot dogs. It's called Raw Dog by Jamie Loftus. And it's a cultural and critical examination of how we consume this very popular thing that a lot of people have very strong feelings about. And what it, you know, kind of says about us as a nation."

On celebrity memoirs or biographies that people may not have heard of in 2023 but are worth a read:

"I think a big one and a really interesting one is the Lou Reed book. It's called Lou Reed, the King of New York by Will Hermes. He's a longtime ATC music critic. ... I'm not the biggest Velvet Underground head. And like, I'm also sort of medium on his solo work, but he's just an interesting guy that I'm curious to learn more about. ... You know, there's this book by Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Leibovitz called But Will You Love Me Tomorrow: an oral history of the 60s girl groups, talking about the Ronettes or The Crystals or stuff like that — these groups who occupied such an immense space in the pop music ecosystem during that time."

*Editor's Note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

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