November 4, 2017

GoodReads Choice Awards and My Big Scramble

Posted in Pop Culture at 11:24 pm by chavalah

First installment in my 2017 #NaNoBlogMo project!

Let the games begin!

My favorite online awards show is upon us again! Early this month, GoodReads unveiled their first round of Choice nominees. The opening rounds ends tomorrow, where you can vote, in several categories, for your favorite of 15 titles per genre, or you can nominate your own. GoodReads will then add the most popular write-ins to the ballot, and the semifinal round of voting will commence until November 12. The final round, which will shave each category to ten contestants, allows voting until the 27th. Then the definitive winners will be announced on December 5.

Since I’ve started becoming more of a geek for book news a couple of years back, I keep hoping for a transformation in my relationship with popular reading. And I suppose that has come to pass, because I recognize many of the books in my favorite genres. Several of them are on my tbr, aka “to be read” list. But ultimately, I’ve only actually finished one of them! Once a predominately backlist reader, always a predominately backlist reader, I guess. 😛

Still, it would be nice to be more “in the know” the next time these awards roll around. I don’t believe in voting unless I’ve actually read and enjoyed the book in question. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t ruminate about my favorite genres! I thought I’d take this time to highlight the books that interest me most, and the ones that I think, given podcast listening and BookTube viewing, might actually win.

Fiction/ Historical Fiction/ Fantasy/ Science Fiction/ Debut GoodReads Author/ Young Adult Fiction/ Young Adult Fantasy/ Nonfiction

Fiction
My TBR: The Leavers by Lisa Ko. I got a copy signed at the National Book Festival in September! It’s a story, in part, about the juxtaposition of identities—the main character was abandoned by his Chinese national/undocumented immigrant mother, and later adopted by a well-to-do white, American couple. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Similar themes—even ethnicity-wise! It involves the attempted adoption of a Chinese American baby by a white family in a planned community. But alas, I still have to read Ng’s Everything I Never Told You! I have a physical copy on my shelf. 😛

Predicted Winner: Of the ones I’ve heard a significant deal about, I’d go for Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jessmyn Ward. It’s currently in contention for the National Book Award and has been nominated for a handful of others, too. Ward’s last book, an anthology on race relations that she edited, came out just last year. But going by the number of reads, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is ahead by a mile.

Historical Fiction
My TBR: Following similar themes here. I’m very intrigued by the Koreans-in-Japan theme of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. It’s always useful to see how bigotry manifests in other places and amongst other people. But alas, I have her earlier novel, Free Food for Millionaires, unread on my shelf! Also of interest on the list: Salt Houses by Hala Alyan. I remember being in a bookstore in Kansas with my aunts, debating buying it, but I was in an austere mood about purchasing hardbacks at the time. 😛 Still, I read so much fiction about Israel from a Jewish perspective; it’s time to turn my attention to a Palestinian experience. I listened to Alyan read a segment and the writing seems strong.

Predicted Winner: I’ve never heard of the book that has the most ratings, Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan (so much for my cred!) But Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders also has high numbers and it just won the Man Booker Prize. Why not another?

Fantasy
My TBR: The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. I just finished The Obelisk Gate! I’m a little iffy on Jemisin’s depiction of violence; I don’t like when it (sometimes) goes unquestioned. I also feel like the character, Nassun, is a little bit too much of an undeserving chosen one with her fast-growing powers. That being said, the worldbuilding is fascinating and I’m very taken with Jemisin’s writing style. I think her narrative choices link her world to our fundamental understanding of fantasy as myth and folklore. And of course, there’s great commentary on the cost of societal bigotry.

Predicted Winner: Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology has the most reads, but J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay is very close behind! Plus, I have faith in the Harry Potter fandom to turn up. 😛

Science Fiction
My TBR: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi and Provenance by Ann Leckie. I’m tentatively trying to find space societies in books that remind me of my favorite TV shows. Scalzi’s book chronicles a multi-planet empire built by pseudo-scientific travel, and Leckie’s leans more towards swashbuckling, it seems, with the protagonist breaking a thief out of jail in an attempt to save her planet from interstellar conflict. I keep hoping that the DC Library will order the audiobooks on Overdrive, but alas they aren’t listening to me! 😦

Predicted Winner: I would have gone with Artemis by Andy Weir, given the extreme popularity of his earlier The Martian, but the numbers don’t support it! Book 6 in The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey is at the top, which I suppose makes sense given the TV show. Fandom rules in SFF, so I think this might win.

Debut GoodReads Author
My TBR: The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker. Out of the slew of literary fiction that I noted at the beginning of the year, this title seems to be going somewhere! It’s about two childhood friends who struggle, then succeed, then contend with relationship drama, around the skill of making animated films. Pretty sure this has been compared to one of my favorite books, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

Predicted Winner: I didn’t even have to check the numbers for this one; I already knew that The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas would top the list. New York Times bestseller and soon to be made into a movie, this YA novel chronicles a Black girl who witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend by the police. Talk about cultural relevance.

Young Adult Fiction
My TBR: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Why? Well, see above.

Predicted Winner: Same.

Young Adult Fantasy
My TBR: PICK: Finally, we get to the book that I actually read! 😀 Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is a high fantasy novel about the aftermath of a grand coup. A huge citadel blocks the sky in the mysterious city of Weep, where humans are still haunted by the vicious, repelled gods, and four of the godspawn children are still secretly alive. Beyond teasing out the worldbuilding, I think Taylor does an excellent job in writing characters with complicated motivations, where we can truly grapple with questions of victimhood and villainy. Looking forward to book two!

Predicted TBR: Already, I was going to go with A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. I hear this series talked about all the time, and Maas is a bit of a GoodReads darling (she even has another book on this list!) Then I checked the numbers, and—yeah, they completely dwarf the competition. This one’s in the bag.


Nonfiction is almost completely alien terrain and I’d have no idea where to start with making predictions (other than by counting the read numbers. :P) But in the spirit of trying to expand my mind, I went into a couple of categories and picked out books that interested me. Will I actually get to reading them? *awkward whistling* Small steps here. 😛

Nonfiction: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Memoir and Autobiography: What Happened by Hilary Rodham Clinton

History and Biography: Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger

Science and Technology: Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini

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1 Comment »

  1. […] mind and expanding your horizons. And with that transition underway here is some follow up from last week’s post: the GoodReaads Choice semifinals are open and running! Cast your votes for your favorite books of […]


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