Book List Fatigue & An Ode to Bloggers

It’s that time of year again when best of lists start popping up daily. There are lists for just about every type of book you can imagine. Every newspaper, magazine and store seems to be chiming in with their picks of the year, and I don’t know about any of you, but it feels like too much.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s an important part of my job to be up on the hot books and to know what people are talking about. I’ve been inspired to read more than one book on the basis of seeing it mentioned enough times. But as much as I like to “be in the know”, I wonder if all of these lists are really necessary or useful. Much like movie awards season where the same 10 movies seem to always be up for all of the awards, I get a bit tired of seeing the same handful of books appearing on every list when there are so many thousands of new books being published in a year.

Books, like any art form (including music, movies, art, etc…) are incredibly personal and subjective. I know what I enjoy and what I don’t, and once I ask a few key questions of my customers, I can get a good sense of what will or won’t fly with them.

I’ve noted award winners, and have often been bored when I’ve picked them up. I’ve picked up “the book’ that has received all of the starred reviews and gotten 1/3 of the way into it before finally acknowledging that it just isn’t to my taste.

What I can and do appreciate seeing are lists that are more personal. Lists that reflect the personal recommendations of the writer instead of the books that are supposed to be “the best”. This is why I appreciate bloggers.

Bloggers, while being ever more closely equated with journalists, have a freedom that professional reviewers don’t. When a blogger loves a book, they can gush. When they hate a book they can rant, and they can be as emotional about it as they like. And why shouldn’t they be? Books evoke an emotional response, and when I’m scouring reviews trying to make educated buying decisions, it’s the emotion in the review that I’m looking for. I want to know why you as a person loved the book and what makes it worthy of a recommendation.

I want to see a different kind of booklist. I want to see more lists of “the books that made me weep this year” or “books that made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt”. or even a top books I want to talk about with everybody I know” kind of list. Those would definitely be different and exciting kinds of lists, and ones which I think would call attention to many of the worthy and incredible books that don’t get mentioned on the numerous “best of” lists.

With that in mind, I turn the question to you the readers- what was your favourite under-the-radar book this year and why?

14 Responses to Book List Fatigue & An Ode to Bloggers

  1. Amie Kaufman
    Amie Kaufman Dec 9 2013 at 5:03 am #

    Oooooh. Imagine me poised by this post, pen at the ready. I feel a buying spree coming on!

  2. SharonS Dec 9 2013 at 6:42 am #

    I agree. I also happen to be a book blogger (movies and comics too) . You are right about the gushing part. I am not much of a ranter out of respect for the authors, but I do get to point out the faults in a book I find. I love your idea of a list of books that made me cry or laugh. If you don’t mind I might put one of those together (and link back to give your credit for the idea)

    My sleeper book(s) is the self pub “The Alchemy Series” by Donna Augustine. Book 1 “The Keepers”. I gave all three books in the series 5 stars. The prose is tight, the action fast and the humor snarky. All the things I love in an urban fantasy.

    • Rachel Dec 9 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      I’d love to see your list! Thank you!

  3. Marni J Dec 9 2013 at 9:20 am #

    My favorite under the radar read was Take Care, Sara by Lindy Zart. I didn’t just cry, I bawled, I was a blubbering mass of snot and tears while reading this book. A book of loss, love and new love. True heartache and a love that blossomed where you thought it wouldn’t.

  4. Patrick Stahl Dec 9 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Sadly, I haven’t read very many books this year. I’ve read a decent amount of short fiction, at least. Perhaps I’ll post a “Best of Short Fiction 2013” list on my blog sometime this month. It won’t be all-inclusive, mind you, but a decent sampling of Analog, Asimov’s, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Alfred Hitchcock’s, etc.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio
      Vanessa Di Gregorio Dec 10 2013 at 9:34 am #

      Definitely post a link here if you do that list, because I would LOVE to check it out!

      • Caitlin Vanasse Dec 17 2013 at 4:01 pm #

        Ditto! I dont’ read enough short fiction because I certainly don’t know where to start. I would love to see your list.

  5. Jessica Dec 9 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    My favorite underappreciated read for this year is You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert. Though it’s not YA, I loved it and just wanted to talk to someone about it!

  6. Stacy Couch Dec 9 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Though it’s not Pub(lishing) Crawl’s usual fare, I’d like to gush about “Mustache Baby,” a picture book by Bridget Heos and Joy Ang. The parents of a baby boy, born with a mustache, can’t tell if it’s a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache. Hilarity ensues–LOVE when Mustache Baby turns Cereal Criminal. (Okay, collective pun groan.) But for some reason MB hasn’t hit the year-end lists. Only Laurel Snyder’s, who looks at the ladies of PB.

    So…note to the list makers: Love. More. Wacky. Ladies.

    Okay. Rant done.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio
      Vanessa Di Gregorio Dec 10 2013 at 9:37 am #

      I have a SERIOUS picture book addiction (honestly! I have shelves devoted to them at home, and there’s not a baby in sight!), so you have no idea how badly I now need Mustache Baby. It sounds adorable and wonderful and fantastic!

  7. Aubrey Cann Dec 10 2013 at 11:54 am #

    This post describes exactly how I’ve been feeling reading all the “best” lists lately. I prefer when people call it a “favorites” list, because that acknowledges the subjectivity of it. The book that I wish was getting more attention on these lists is The Archived by Victoria Schwab. It’s so creepy and atmospheric!

  8. Alexa Y. Dec 11 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I love seeing what my fellow bloggers have chosen for their favorite reads of the year, as it almost always includes a couple of books that I hadn’t heard about or meant to read but forgot or overlooked. It’s always great to get lists that are custom-tailored and personal, as you’ve mentioned! I think, for me, I absolutely LOVED the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer. I never feel like it gets the amount of attention it ought to, but it’s really good!

  9. Caitlin Vanasse Dec 17 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    A lot of what I’ve read this year wasn’t published in 2013 and much of what was has been, rightly, getting much of the attention it deserves. (Rainbow Rowell, anyone? How about Crown of Midnight hitting the bestseller list) That being said, one book I was really surprised by in a good way was Janet Edwards’ Earth Girl. I’m not sure if it’s the poor cover copy, the lacking cover, or the fact that it’s a British import (the book was published there last year) that has kept this book on the d.l. but it’s incredibly inventive with really interesting stuff going on both internally and externally to the characters.

    I really enjoyed it and perhaps some of you might check it out now too?

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