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Up First briefing: Black Friday and Books We Love

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein and and Carey Mulligan as Felicia Montealegre in <em>Maestro.</em>
Jason McDonald/Netflix
Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein and and Carey Mulligan as Felicia Montealegre in Maestro.

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Our team is on break for Thanksgiving. This Black Friday, NPR's staff and critics are bringing you handpicked recommendations for this year's Books We Love collection. We'll be back Monday.

Books we love


I've read 60 books this year — surpassing my goal of 52! Many of my favorites, like Celeste Ng's Our Missing Hearts and Mark Prins' The Latinist, came from last year's installment for NPR's Books We Love. The 2023 edition just dropped this week, and I'm so excited to dig in — it's one of my favorite post-Thanksgiving rituals. My top tip: it's a great way for bookworms to build out their holiday wish lists.

Each book comes with a personal recommendation. This year, NPR staff and critics handpicked more than 380 titles, all published in 2023. You can mix and match the filters to find the book that's perfect for you or someone you love. The archive goes back a full decade — that's thousands of book picks at your fingertips.

Back in 2013, the NPR Books Team was feeling tired of end-of-the-year lists, says Culture producer Beth Novey. So they joined forces with NPR's Visuals team to create a site with dozens of filters. You can find books in classic genres like historical fiction and thrillers or dive into zanier topics like "It's All Geek to Me" and "The Dark Side." "We love that we are able to offer a year-end package that matches the wide and varied interests of our NPR readers," culture editor Rose Friedman says.

You can find this year's Books We Love picks and the entire archive here. NPR's Book of the Day podcast features interviews with many of the authors featured in this year's recommendations.

More weekend picks

Movies: Larger-than-life musician Leonard Bernstein's chaotic energy is always present in his music. Bradley Cooper tells a nuanced story of his life with his portrayal in Maestro.

TV: The entire cast of the hit movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World reunites for Netflix's animated series, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. The show starts off similarly to the movie before shifting focus to Ramona.

Music: After battling drug addiction and alcoholism, Detroit rapper Danny Brown emerges from a downward spiral with Quaranta, a thoughtful album that embraces the wisdom of his 40s.

Games: Super Mario RPG is a fresh update on an old classic. NPR critic Tre Watson says it's one of the best RPG games from Square, the company behind the Final Fantasy franchise.

Black Friday stories you may have missed

People shop ahead of Black Friday at a Walmart Supercenter on Tuesday in Burbank, Calif.
Mario Tama / Getty Images
Getty Images
People shop ahead of Black Friday at a Walmart Supercenter on Tuesday in Burbank, Calif.

Most U.S. shoppers say Black Friday is overhyped. But 1 in 5 Americans plan to do most of their holiday shopping today, according to a new survey. The National Retail Federation predicts this holiday season will break shopping records. Here's a breakdown of Black Friday by the numbers — and what it means for the U.S. economy.

Black Friday is no longer one day — and it started way earlier than today. As retailers roll out sales earlier and earlier, here's what to look out for.

Cybercriminals are likely to take advantage of consumers' attention to sales emails to pose as retailers and run scams. While consumers are encouraged to stay vigilant against phishing emails, many argue the burden should fall on companies to implement more protections.

Totally against the Black Friday tradition altogether? Here are four alternatives to shopping.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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Suzanne Nuyen