Prepublication reviews by the four publishing-industry trade journals -- Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal -- are extremely influential.
They each review thousands of books a year, and they award starred reviews to distinguished or exceptional books.
Librarian Ann Chambers Theis maintains a blog called Overbooked, where she tracks the starred reviews awarded by these publications. Here is a list she compiled of all the adult fiction titles last year that got stars from three or more of the trade publications.
When you consider that upwards of five thousand novels are published by commercial presses each year, that's a short list. And the number of books that are starred by all four trades is very small.
For all of 2011, this is the full list:
"Red On Red" Conlon, Edward
"Broken Irish" Delaney, Edward J.
"The Marriage Plot" Eugenides, Jeffrey
"Say Her Name" Goldman, Francisco
"Turn of Mind" LaPlante, Alice
"The Troubled Man" Mankell, Henning
"Trackers" Meyer, Deon
"The Night Circus" Morgenstern, Erin
"1Q84" Murakami, Haruki
"The Cat's Table" Ondaatje, Michael
"Zone One" Whitehead, Colson
So I am very happy to announce that DON'T EVER GET OLD has been starred by all four trades, and joins that illustrious company.