Weekly Geeks: Awards and Lists
Write a post discussing why awards matter, or don’t matter. Are you influenced by awards and best lists? Do you seek out award winners? Or avoid them? Do you think award-winning books should be timeless? That they should always stay in print? Do you think time is a better judge of quality than an award committee?
The short answer: Awards are a great starting point.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, an awarded book can be just the ticket. However, this assumes that you have already done enough homework to figure out which of the multitude of book awards (or “best of” lists, for that matter) fits your reading style best. Maybe you’re a Booker person. Or maybe a Newbery. Whatever it is, it is pointless to go by the recommendation of an award if you know nothing about it and how it matches up with your taste.
Secondarily, awards are only a good starting point if you’re looking for something popular. I don’t think awards are a great place to start if you’re looking for something underground or indie. There are so many awards now that most genres are accounted for (or even repeatedly lauded), but, generally speaking, awards are given to those books which have gained the most widespread acclaim (from whatever or whoever the book’s contemporaries are) during its publication year.
And in terms of the timelessness of book awards, I once again would argue that it all depends on the award itself. Some are purposefully ephemeral, but others are genuinely looking to anoint modern-day classics. Time will absolutely tell if they are successful, but until then we can just take awards with a grain of salt: someone thought this book was good, but that’s just their opinion. It is up to us as readers to make up our own.