D.G. Meyers at A Commonplace Blog is realistically pessimistic about 2010 being a great year in books. The reality is that most years do not produce even one “book for the ages”, even if most years produce plenty of very good books. A “great year” would, it seems, require more than one “great book”, like 1925 with the following stunners: The Great Gatsby, Mrs. Dalloway, The Trial. 1925 had other outstanding works, but what year since 1990 has seen such brilliance?
Just to kick off a discussion, I submit the year 2001, using The Millions “Best Books of the Millenium (So Far)“. From that list, we have: The Corrections, Austerlitz, Atonement, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, and Marriage, and Stranger Things Happen. If you add the Millions’ reader’s picks, throw in Empire Falls. Whether you count all of these as great books, surely almost everyone can pick out at least two that they think will stand the test of time.
Has a more recent year been better? Are we due a great year? Maybe 2011? Was it 2009? Will it actually be 2010?
[Update: D.G. Meyers provides a very thorough and well-informed reply to my query. The short is that he thinks 2001 was good, but 2004 was better.]