On ranking things

Why rank things? Some well-known answers are:

  1. It's a way of celebrating what you like.
  2. It's a way to seek out excellence more generally.
  3. It's fun.
  4. It sparks conversation.

Two more answers I didn't appreciate until recently are:

  1. In the translation from deep feeling to language, much can be lost but something can also be gained. (Agnes Callard on complaint and on prayer got me thinking about this.) Rankings are an extreme version of this. They're reductive, and that can be a good thing.
  2. It keeps one honest to say what you really like the most. Especially if you're the sort of person who goes on and on about how much there is to appreciate about so many different things.

So, here is a sort of top-100 books list and here's my favorite stuff of 2022 so far.

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