#LetsDiscuss2020 #23 – They’ve Got a Little List – #DiscussionSunday.


As 2020 draws to its final conclusion, hopefully writhing in unbearable pain, only to be regenerated as a much healthier and far more peaceful 2021, the book world is already filled with a myriad of list of the “best books” published this past year. Yes, I indulge in this, as well. However, my little myopic list reflects only my own experience, and that’s fine. The question is…

Can we trust these so-called professional lists? Should we expect these lists to be more expansive, or not?

Discussion Sunday #letsdiscuss2020


These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section. So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!

What made me think about this topic?

When I vote every year for the Goodreads Choice Awards, intellectually, I do know that what I think is a great book might not be a great book for others. I also know that I cannot judge properly because there are so many books on their lists that I haven’t read. Should I be upset that “Anxious People” didn’t get as many votes as “The Midnight Library?” Does it bother me that “The Vanishing Half” won over both “Hamnet” and “Code Name Hélène,” not to mention the many other marvelous historical fiction books I read this past year? Well, to be frank, yes. Yes, emotionally, I really do.

My Thoughts…

It is very hard for me to comprehend why the books I loved don’t seem to be getting as wide an audience to adore them as I would have hoped. It is even more surprising when books I’ve rated 5/5 stars that are getting on awards lists and even winning those awards, are ignored by some of these lists. When I see that, I get angry and think that the list isn’t worth the bandwidth that its streaming on, and I click them closed in frustration. I mean, how could they be so ignorant? So tasteless?

But then it occurs to me. Maybe the people who compiled these lists didn’t read the same books that I read. Maybe they don’t even know about these books. Another reason is that perhaps they didn’t get their copy in time to read and include it in their list. Of course, the most obvious reason is the one I always use when someone dislikes a book that I cherish: no two people read the same book. I have to calm myself and remember that just because I saw merit in a novel, that doesn’t mean that everyone else will. I have to reassure myself that people have different tastes, and every opinion is valid. It isn’t easy to do, but I have to stop fretting, and let those lists just roll away, like rain water off a duck’s back (no matter how much I believe the people who made up the list are just stupid or ignorant).

The thing is, I worry that people who are looking for something new to read, might take these lists too much to heart. People shouldn’t be led to believe that the preferences slapped together by a bunch of parochial boors are as sacred as if they were carved in stone! But what can I do? Apparently, nothing besides what I’m doing now – blogging and putting my own lists together. That’s why I hope you’ll read my “best of 2020” list which I’ll be publishing on this blog on December 29, as a Top Ten Tuesday post. If you don’t, I can assure you, you’ll be missing out on some really wonderful books that have (so far) been sorely, and unfairly overlooked by all the lists I’ve seen to date (in my oh, so very, humble opinion).

There you have it!

So… what about you?

Do you trust these yearly lists? Do they anger you when your favorite books are left off, or do you just ignore them?

This post is my 23rd (and last) entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!


43 thoughts on “#LetsDiscuss2020 #23 – They’ve Got a Little List – #DiscussionSunday.

  1. I mean, most of my favorites are indies, so I’ve grown used to them never being on lists or getting the attention they deserve lol. But I never trust any professional list, at least not any more than an “unprofessional” list, because it’s still just someone’s opinion. And the GR awards are more a popularity thing, since no one has read every book published to be able to choose a best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I glance at those lists but pretty much ignore them. I’m much more interested in lists from bloggers that I trust to share my tastes and give thoughtful recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I understand where you are coming from. Personally, I tend to go by trusted blogger buddies and will jump on NG to see if I can still access the book–many time cannot. Not entirely myopic when it comes to genres, I do delve occasionally outside my usual comfort zones. It took me awhile to get used to UK slang and I will always support Canadian authors–partial to our neighbors north. That being said, the one thing I notice is that if I come in about a 3 star, the others are all raving at 5. Wondering what I missed, the one book on the lists I recognized this year made a short list (tho didn’t win). One thing I’m learning tho is that if in the title it says, “absolutely unputdownable thriller” I run.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. oooh, this is an interesting topic for me because before i was a blogger i was still a MAJOR reader, yet i wasn’t really aware of “professional lists” other than maybe a passing list from, like, Time Magazine or Teen Vogue or something like that. and even when i came across such articles, i took it more as a “these are the books [this magazine/foundation/person/etc.] recommends as interesting/good/impactful,” rather than “these are the best books that you must read, period.” nowadays, i’m aware of way more “professional lists,” but i still take them as recommendations rather than required reading (which, i mean, no one likes required reading, regardless of where it comes from lol). as others have said, i take these lists as opportunities to explore books i may not have heard of and tend more towards trusting bloggers/friends with similar tastes to mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Must admit I ignore them. I almost never seem in tune with what the world thinks and I’m OK with that. I think there’s something like 180,000 books published in the UK every year so any list is bound to miss the odd one or two… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looking forward to your best-of list. Personally I voted in the Goodreads award, but my nominees did not win. I am not terribly bothered by it though, reading a ton of newly published books is not high on my list. Therefore these types of lists are mildly interesting, I look at them and maybe even look up some of the mentioned books. But they do not influences much what I actually read.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I tend to look at end of year lists as books to potentially explore. If there’s an author I’m familiar with, I’ll gravitate to his or her book, otherwise, genre comes next. Regardless the books I’ll read first are those my close book-reading friends have recommended, but even those don’t always hit the mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I rarely even know many of the books up for the Goodreads challenge. I presume many are US/Canada books either not published in the UK or not yet. I do enjoy reading all the lists particularly from bloggers as it’s always interesting to see what they’ve chosen and sometimes I come across a book I’ve previously missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wasn’t keen on Hamnet. And I still don’t understand why so many people think Wolf Hall was the best book in years: I thought it was poor. I suppose we all like different things. It’s the same with films, music, “greatest historical figures”, “greatest ever England football XI”, etc – everyone has their own ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think I’ve voted for only 2 books in all the years that I’ve been on GR. I don’t tend to read the ‘popular books’ as I stick with lots of Indie work, so I don’t take a lot of notice of the awards.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I find the GR list to be very heavily American biased, mind you, my own list is very heavily Australia biased. I take ‘professional’ lists with a grain of salt, I much prefer lists made by bloggers I follow who seem to have the same sort of taste as me and that I can get some real ideas from, not jts books that are mainstream either, many Indi authors miss out big time in these lists.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I know that the books I love are often panned by others. I know that books other people love are ones that might make me fall asleep and I know that everyone has different tastes, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many authors and books out there. Having said that, I do try to read some books of the lists of best books to read. I try to read the books that are on Canada Reads, because they are Canadian authors. Otherwise, it is hit and miss for me. I always worry when someone tells me they pick up a book because I rated it high and gave it a good review, because they might not like it. A lot to think about. Great post Davida.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I totally agree with you. Every time I see a “best of” list or an awards list, I get all excited that some of my favorites will appear on them, but then they don’t and I am flummoxed. But I guess that’s the beauty of literature: we each like the books we like and we all don’t have to agree.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Every time a list comes up that doesn’t mention at least two book from my favorites of that year, I dismiss the list completely. Mind you, that’s not fair, either. I don’t read EVERY book. I guess nobody can.


  14. I take the Goodreads one with a grain of salt. If Ree Drummond, who is great and her food is fine, gets the best cookbook award–that tells you a lot right there. Her stuff is pure middle-America and no apologies. It’s pretty much the same with the books. Popular, big sales. Not a “critical” success. I was surprised that Guest List was the best they could find for mysteries–I read it, it was fine, but it wasn’t over-the-top-great. Typical bookclub book. Nothing wrong with it being that, either! I started writing my book club discussion guide soon after I finished the first draft of my novel lol. It sells! I was surprised that The Jane Austen Society was seen as so great. Again, it was book clubish. Hidden Valley Road was OUTSTANDING, but racism is the nonfiction topic this year. Obama won memoir–well, who else would have against the former president? Some of these awards are just popularity contests. It IS, however, heartening to see how book club books of under 300 pages and Oprah’s depressing as S0$t book club picks have revived reading in this country.
    Not sure I answered you effectively, lol. I hope I didn’t offend.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t because I know people (not all but many) vote for titles they have heard of and not read, if the books they read are not on the list. So that just means hyped books bet picked. Great topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I like when the lists at least say how the books were chosen. The Goodreads Awards are interesting because, while we don’t know the whole algorithm, we know the nominees are chosen based on things like rating and how many people have read them. So at least in my mind I can say, “Oh, it’s a list of popular books,” which doesn’t necessarily equate to quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I was so frustrated with the goodreads awards this year! Very few of my top reads even made it as an option! It makes me question if I’m out of touch with what the majority of readers are reading. The point at which I distrust lists is when I suspect publishers have paid the professional list makers to put a book on a list. Some lists seem to only list hyped books. On the other hand, I trust the lists of my blogging friends!

    Liked by 1 person

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