This week, the National Book Awards announced the long lists in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. Plus the finalists for the Man Booker were also announced. So we asked our readers earlier this week: do you think the best books win the awards?
Turns out, you don’t have much faith in the awards committees to pick the best books.
No. I believe the best *marketed* books win book awards. Some that win awards do deserve them and I'm not saying they're *bad.* But I can't tell you how many times I've read a book that won an award or awards/was nominated/short or long-listed, etc. but actually aren't that good.
-Jane Meyers, Facebook
Sometimes the best books aren't even published.
-Diane Mason, Facebook
Ouch! At least one reader thinks the awards go to the right books, sort of...
Yes they do. Yet, best by what standard?
-Dezo Erxn, Facebook
Our favorite response comes from someone with firsthand experience of book prizes and a long perspective on awards:
Good ones are usually in the mix, but rarely the best. When I was at the LA Book Prize, I think it was Mona Simpson who gave out the final award. She told a little story of vacationing in the same cabin every year as a little girl, with a huge bookshelf, with titles like . . . and she named ten obscure titles. Then she said that when she was older, she discovered the bookshelf was dedicated to all the Pulitzer winners for fiction, and that was the 1920s shelf. No Gatsby or Farewell to Arms or any of the other "classics" she rattled off. Forgotten books, that seemed great at the time.
-Dave Cullen, Facebook