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?
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.
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!