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The best lists for the New Year and a fresh decade

With the turn of a new year – and a new decade – everybody's weighing in on the "best" and "most important" things. Here are our picks for the most interesting and provocative lists.

By Staff writer / January 2, 2010

Brrr! Hearty Germans swim in four degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit ) water of the Baltic Sea at the beach of Kuehlungsborn, northern Germany. It's an annual New Years Day event.

Thomas Haentzschel/AP

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The turn of the calendar – particularly if it involves a fresh decade – always generates lists, and not just those personal New Years resolutions you hope to keep at least until February.

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Some are light, some are weighty. Some are political, most are cultural. Some look forward, most sum up the past year or decade.

For those who just can’t get enough of such tallies, here are some to consider between the weekend parties and sports fests.

Time magazine weighs in on the “Best Movies, TV, Books and Theater of the Decade.”

Publishers Weekly sticks to the “Best Books of 2009.”

A Web site called “Pretty Much Amazing” lists “The Absolute Best Songs of 2009.” Although it’s not a list, NPR reports on “Why Music Sounds Worse” in the decade just ended.

In the realm of business, CNNMoney.com and Fortune magazine laud the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” firms that “are going out of their way to please employees.”

Some print and online publications are touting their top stories. That includes Slate and Atlantic. Atlantic also takes a wide-ranging and provocative look at “The 10 American Ideas of the Decade.”

Lefty professor Juan Cole, who teaches history at the University of Michigan, takes a sour look back at the 1990s in his “Top Ten Worst Things about the Bush Decade” (subtitled “The Rise of the New Oligarchs”).

Sarah van Gelder, Yes! Magazine’s executive editor, is more even-handed in her critique of US politics titled “Nine Ways Our World Changed During the ‘00s,” declaring that both major political parties have “collapsed as a trusted force for reasoned governance.”

And of course the Monitor weighs in as well on the economy, movies, state financial woes, important stories you may have missed, and a prediction for 2010 on “Six ideas that will shape the world.”

Happy reading!

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