The truth is, readers should take yearend lists with a grain of salt for several reasons:
- Newspapers and magazines only choose from among the books they review. And as far as short story collections go, they don't necessarily review very many of them.
- Certain books get more attention than others, and those books tend to make the lists. So a tally of short story collections (and all books) on yearend lists is as much a tally of buzz as of excellence.
- Good books get overlooked. For instance, I didn't see one of last year's finalists, Joe Meno's Demons in the Spring, on any 2008 list. Also, books published early in the year can be forgotten. I haven't seen any mention of Louise Erdrich's collected stories, The Red Convertible, which came out in January.
- It's a matter of taste. This may seem obvious, but some people give a lot of weight to the selections of, say, The New York Times. If you're a discerning reader, you're in as good a position to judge as any reviewer.