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16 April 2014


Hee. I know many of the folks who compile LibraryReads, and I generally run screaming from anything they recommend. They also are on lots of other committees whose "best of" I won't read either (RUSA Codes, I'm lookin' at you) ...

I'm grateful that you stand up (virtually speaking) for those of us who don't find anything satisfactory on lists like these! I used to think I was the only one to feel that way, and feel that perhaps my lack of a literary background was to blame. Not I just chalk it up to different interests.

Yes, some of the names were familiar to me as well. Although I certainly don't mean this as a personal gripe--I respect what they're trying to do with this list; I just wish it was more exciting! But you're right--most books that get any of the ALA's "stamps of approval" leave me pretty cold.

I also find it a bit disingenuous that for years RA librarians have been barking at me that "it's all about the reader" and that librarians aren't supposed to have opinions about good books or books they (personally) love. Now, I've always disagreed with that, so I suppose I should be glad that this list is being made so librarians CAN share some of their "favorites." But I get the feeling that once again, on-the-front-lines librarians aren't supposed to have opinions, but the "tastemakers" in the ALA can. Pick one way or the other, kids--either no librarians should get to suggest favorites, or we all should.

There are two lists that bother me the most: Oprah's Book Club and New York Best Seller.

First, Oprah's book lists feel like a syllabus to prepare for the next emotionally-staged Oprah show; I feel that the books are picked not for the value of the story itself, but for the dramatic responses it can evoke on camera.

Second, the New York Best Seller list drives sales instead of sales driving the list; marketing and money drive this list where public interest and feedback should.

Oh, I agree with both of those. Oprah also doesn't offer much in the way of nonfiction (or slightly more subtle fiction) and every year I play "How many titles HAVEN'T I read?" with the New York Times Notable list. Bleah!
Was it just a few weeks back when there was a story about someone managing to buy their way onto the NY Times list outright? I should go track that down.

CR, I think for the LibraryReads to get better, lots of librarians have to read lots of advanced reader copies. And nonfiction has to be part of that. I can not imagine that has really happened or will happen. I bet a small number of people are influencing the list because they are the ones with the connections and the time to read advanced copies regularly. And they read what they can get from the publishers with the budgets to send books out. Maybe it isn't even that good. It may be mostly librarians voting on just what they notice from announcements and reviews.

While I appreciate the idea of another way for librarians trying to shape the market, I think the old way of having librarians writing for review journals and other librarians reading their many reviews still results in the sale of lots of books, a great variety of books. The danger of saying these are the 10 is that it narrows the market in the same way bestsellers lists do.

Oh I hate book lists too. Every list of best books this year or the greatest books ever written is full of fiction titles and that is patently unfair, not to mention narrow minded. I do know that most people prefer to read fiction...I should know...I have been looking through scores of book blogs for the last one month and you are one of the few non-fiction readers that I have found, but it is still unfair to create book lists full of fiction titles, most of which are vague and indistinguishable from each other... And yes, 'non-fiction that reads like fiction' gets me irritated too.

Oh, so glad to find someone else 1. who loves nonfiction, and 2. who is irritated by "nonfiction that reads like fiction."
The other thing about lists is that it is VERY hard to find any that include some different titles--looking at book lists is often, for me, like trying to shop at the mall: lots of stores, not a whole lot of actual choice. Lots of lists; not a whole lot of unique choices.

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