Monthly Archives: March 2009

This Place Matters

Alison Morris - March 30, 2009

What places matter to you? In my 2008 "year-end giving" I made a point of sending a check to The National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of the organizations I do my best to support every year. One of the perks of membership in the National Trust is a subscription to Preservation Magazine, which is a surprisingly interesting and well-written periodical about places of historical significance, structures being threatened, debates over how best to preserve and protect and make environmentally-sound improvements to existing structures. A recent issue of Preservation, though, contained something I hadn’t seen before: a tear-sheet of white paper on which the words "THIS PLACE MATTERS" had been printed. On the back of the sheet was the following explanation for why that piece of paper was there:

The National Trust exists because place matters and we are here to help people protect, enhance, and enjoy the places that matter to them. From a family home or a neighborhood school, to your local hangout or movie theatre — wherever you live and whoever you are, place matters.

Help us spread the word about the National Trust for Historic Preservation and our mission to save places by participating in our recently upgraded This Place Matters campaign. By showcasing the diverse places that matter to all of us, we can change the way people think about heritage and make a stronger case for preserving it.

What is it? This Place Matters is a photo-sharing campaign in which we ask people to take and post photos of themselves in whatever places matter to them. By sharing these photos, we can spread the word and get even more people involved in the preservation movement.

Living where I do, I couldn’t help but think of lots of places near me that have both historical and literary significance — to me these places matter. And this campaign makes participation VERY easy. So, one cold day this winter, I had my librarian pal Amanda Bock snap a photo of me in front of the place I most wanted to see included in the This Place Matters photo pool: Orchard House.

Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, was home to writer Louisa May Alcott and her family from 1858 to 1877. It was in this house that Louisa wrote and set the semi-autobiographical novel Little Women, based on the life she and her sisters shared a stone’s throw from fellow transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

Today Orchard House is owned and operated by the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association (a non-profit founded in 1911) and open to the public for guided tours. The house’s interior still looks much as it did during the Alcotts’ residence, so stepping through its rooms feels eerily like walking through the pages of Little Women — so many of the details mentioned in the book are visible within these walls. My parents brought me here when I was seven and at the time Little Women was my favorite book. Walking through this place, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven. I felt like I’d slipped right into Jo’s, Amy’s, Beth’s, and Meg’s shoes.

For anyone with an appreciation for history and/or literature, Orchard House is a place that matters. And it owes a debt of thanks to the National Trust, as a blurb on the website explains: "Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House – Home of Little Women is an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures, a public-private partnership between the White House Millenium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation dedicated to the preservation of our nation’s irreplaceable historic and cultural treasures for future generations."

What places matter to you, and how many of them have literary significance? Visit the National Trust’s website to read more about the This Place Matters campaign and consider adding your own photos to the photo pool on Flickr. You can even download your very own sign to pose with, so that passers-by will see you, read it, and hopefully get the message too.

All Hail Geraldine McCaughrean

Alison Morris - March 27, 2009

Last Saturday I vaporized my morning finishing one book (which was INCREDIBLE but about which I’m not allowed to talk just yet) and then another (which was also incredible and which I am allowed to talk about and will do so… NOW.)

A Pack of Lies by Geraldine McCaughrean (pronounced "Muh-cork-run") was first published in the U.K. way back in 1988, at which time it was awarded both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Award. Soon thereafter I believe Oxford University Press published it here, but at some point during in the many years that have passed since that time, the book went out of print. Thankfully, Marshall Cavendish has rectified that situation by bringing the book back into print this season in paperback (and with a great cover too). In so doing they’re giving American readers a renewed chance to read one HECK of a book by a woman who I happen to think is one of the world’s most talented writers for children and young adults.

I first fell in love with Geraldine McCaughrean’s writing when Simon and Schuster offered me the remarkable opportunity to read a manuscript copy of her then forthcoming book Peter Pan in Scarlet. At the time I hadn’t knowingly read anything by Geraldine and, while I recognized the good work of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, I was very suspicious of the very IDEA that Peter Pan needed or "ought to have" a sequel. I love the original Peter Pan, after all. I think it’s a fantastically fun book with a delightful tongue-in-cheek tone that feels fiendishly devilish as it mock adults from at the start, the finish, and everywhere in between. I thought of Peter Pan as rather holy ground and couldn’t bear the thought of any "contemporary" author defiling it.

But I’m a professional bookseller. I knew S&S was entrusting me with a rare opportunity, so I took it. And on the very first page of Peter Pan in Scarlet I had a revelation: HERE was an author who "got it." Geraldine McCaughrean had somehow done what I thought no one could do: she dusted off Barrie’s characters who (in her telling of their story) had been busy getting on with life for a few decades and breathed new life into them in a way that felt wholly authentic and wonderfully true. Her characters were Barrie’s characters. Her language was Barrie’s language. The more I read of the book, the more I couldn’t understand how Geraldine McCaughrean had done such perfect justice to someone else’s characters and story. SO, I read more of her books. And those impressed me so much I read still more. This was a true love affair. By the time Geraldine came to our store in the fall of 2006, I think I’d read quite a significant percentage of the 140 (!!) or so books she’d written, and there wasn’t one that I didn’t at least enjoy and in most cases marvel at. But I hadn’t read A Pack of Lies until last Saturday, so clearly my education was not complete.

A Pack of Lies is the story of a mother and teenage daughter, Ailsa, who barely make ends meet with the paltry sums they collect by way of sales in their small antique shop. Into their world of depressed near-poverty strides a man by the name of MCC Berkshire who is, it would appear, a compulsive liar. He quickly insinuates himself into their lives, taking up residence in their store and giving himself a job, for which he is paid in room, board, and books, the latter of which he devours constantly before heading out to purchase more (though not, of course, with his own money).

One of the few things that can make MCC put down a book is a disinterested customer — they’re MCC’s specialty. While Ailsa’s compulsively honest mother can’t help but reveal all the flaws in the items she sells and in so doing put off any interested buyer, MCC can take one look at a writing desk and conjure up a tale about its origins that is so rich, so remarkable, so replete with visceral details as to at least quadruple the object’s value. His listeners may not believe his stories, but they ARE enchanted by them, which has the same effect on their buying inclinations. Without MCC, customers leave the little antique shop with a knick-knack or a piece of furniture. With MCC they go home with a piece of history, with a work of art, with tangible evidence of a story.

MCC’s story, however, remains a complete mystery to Ailsa and her mother. Their initial suspicions of him fade and are replaced with an odd, befuddled fondness that grows, albeit a bit unsteadily, until Ailsa’s mother fears that her daughter’s doe-eyed fondness is becoming something more. Who is this MCC? Where does he come from? What is his story? Can a liar be trusted with anyone, let alone one’s daughter?

I’ve never described any book this way before, but I’m calling A Pack of Lies "wickedly delicious." It is puzzling and curious and clever and funny. Surprising, mystifying, beautiful, and then some. One of the great joys of the book is discovering that the short stories it contains (in the form of MCC’s lies) are each as complex and mysterious and spell-binding as the overarching story that contains them. While at first I worried that MCC’s stories would come to feel like lengthy diversions from the book’s central plot, I soon found myself grinning (literally) with eager anticipation of the next tale’s arrival, wondering what yarn MCC would spin next, in what style it would be written, and how many perfect metaphors and similes I’d find there.

Months ago I planned to write a post about Geraldine McCaughrean’s wicked sense of humor and her remarkable use of simile, metaphor, and alliteration, but I didn’t get any farther than to mark passages in a few of her books. Why? Because in marking those passages I wound up rereading large chunks of those books and in so doing eviscerated my post-writing time for that day. (Damn!) But let me give you two samples of Geraldine’s genius, and then you can go off and find all the rest. Or share one of your favorite McCaughrean passages here!

From Chapter Three of A Pack of Lies:

That night, the crickets and toads roared around the house like a migraine, and the moonlight plastered it with sweat, and the flickering shadows of bats flecked the moonbeams as thickly as motes in sunshine. Fireflies were setting a slow fuse to the world, and when it burned right down, there would come an explosion of Papa’s anger. Grace lay awake, trying to think of a lie that would get her out of trouble.

From Chapter Seven of A Pack of Lies:

Dafyd Tresillick wore an oilskin when it rained (and it rains a lot on the west coast of Wales. He wore an oilskin and a sou’wester, even though he was no longer a member of the lifeboat crew. The oilskin was so stiff that it stood up on its own account — a headless apparition haunting the corner of the shed. In light rain he wore only an oiled-wool aran pullover, which smelled of tarry sheep when it got warm but which would keep the rain off nicely so long as nobody washed it in detergent.

Tresillick did not believe in umbrellas. Some people don’t believe in God; Tressilick didn’t believe in umbrellas. In fact, he disbelieved with a pagan f
vour. He did not own one. He would not be given one — not for birthdays or Christmas or to please his wife. He said that any man who used one was a pansy, and any woman a public pest.

It’s worth reading the rest of this book, just to find out what becomes of dear old Dafyd whose "bald head gleamed as the raindrops rolled in great curves across his scalp like tiny airliners flying over the North Pole."

(I couldn’t resist leaving you with that image.)

Cheap Threadless Shirts with Reader Appeal

Alison Morris - March 24, 2009

The clever t-shirt loving folks over at Threadless are having a "Spring Cleaning Sale" until Monday, March 30th, which means you can purchase shirts from them for just $5 or $10 each. This might not be so exciting if the sale didn’t include a reprint of their "Books Are Good for You" design, which I’ve always found to be both cute and clever, and several others I thought might be of interest to you shirt-wearing book lovers. (As opposed, um… you shirtless book lovers, I guess. Can’t say I know many folks who fit that bill on a routine basis. Sounds like it should be a calendar, though, doesn’t it?)

If any of the designs below strike your fancy, click on them to open a magical window into that shirt’s Threadless e-commerce page.

Those of you who (like me) grew up reading Choose Your Own Adventure books might appreciate this shirt that allows t-shirt readers to choose their favorite of three pictorial scenarios then read the back of the shirt to see the results of their selection. Do you want to ask the wizard a question, run away from the wizard, or shoot the wizard with an arrow?

Either way you’re going to be mauled by a bear. (OF course.)

I really like this recent design called "Capital" that shows Capital letters in 3D so they look like buildings in an alphabet city.

I think it’d be funny to see a teenager wearing this shirt (or any other saying "The definition of X is…") when he/she goes in to take the SAT’s. Suppose that’d be grounds for disqualification? Hmm. (Though I acknowledge that if "suspense" is now considered a difficult SAT word, we’ve got bigger problems to worry about than whether or not that counts as cheating.)

This shirt pretty much says it all.

Here’s a very entertaining one for you fantasy fans…

Threadless also prints a number of its designs on kids’ t-shirts or onesies, like this one, entitled "A is for Jerks!" which makes me chuckle.

But none of these beats my favorite, now a Threadless classic, which describes a phenomenon that is still largely true: "Movies: Ruining the Book Since 1920."

Happy shopping!

No Picture Book Sample? No Sale.

Alison Morris - March 23, 2009

I’m going to cut right to the chase here and just say it: I almost never, ever buy picture books if I can’t read them, myself, from start to finish. I will sometimes buy a picture book without reading it, if it’s by an author with an expert track record or an illustrator whose work I always enjoy, but these exceptions are few and far between. There’s just too much risk involved otherwise — too much room for errors in buying judgment. Yes, I’ll buy novels on spec, as there’s not time enough in the world to do otherwise. But with picture books, the time argument does not apply. Customers will want to flip through the pages of the picture book and read most (if not all of it) before they buy. Why, then, shouldn’t I want to do the same? I’m a customer too, after all.

This issue comes up every season because every season some of my sales reps are forced to show up to our sales calls with highly incomplete sales kits. Generally the books they aren’t able to show me are from very small publishers who just didn’t get things together in time to send the reps off with anything. To these publishers I say YOU ARE MISSING SALES and will continue to do so if you don’t give buyers something to go on. If you can’t send your sales reps out with finished books or F&G’s, at least make them color photocopies or (in a desperate situation) black-and-white photocopies. A manuscript-style page of the book’s text paired with one or two pages of illustration is just not enough.

Just because a picture book starts off well does NOT mean it’s going to end well. If I’m able to read just the first five pages of a picture book, how do I know it doesn’t fall apart somewhere in the middle? When I have to consider buying a picture book I’ve never read I ultimately wind up having to weigh the chance of whether or not that unknown-to-me book is likely to be any better than the majority of those known-to-me books already crowding our store’s shelves. Experience tells me those odds are incredibly slim, so…? I almost always pass.

Beyond just the simple need to know whether or not a book is any "good," there are other reasons that reading a book is a key part of a buyer’s work. When you read a book, you make connections and inferences to things, occasions, topics, or audiences that aren’t mentioned anywhere in the book’s catalog copy or printed on the jacket flap. When I read a book I will think, "This book is perfect for that teacher who wanted examples of the X writing technique," or "This book is perfect for all those customers who love Y." 

When you’re a good buyer, every book you read spills its sales secrets — some spill many, others very few. The books you haven’t read automatically offer fewer sales opportunities because you haven’t heard their secrets. Fewer sales opportunities = fewer reasons to take a chance on them.

Cue Abba music here.

What Do Customers Do That Irks YOU?

Alison Morris - March 18, 2009

Let me just begin by saying that we are BLESSED with great customers at our store. Truly! Most of our customer interactions are happy, positive experiences. But, um… some of them are not. Every now and again! Every bookseller has had the experience (probably multiple times a day) of working with a difficult or simply frustrating customer. And now one bookseller has gone public with his complaints about the types of behavior these folks tend to exhibit — in very, VERY funny fashion.

Fellow booksellers, watch the six videos made by one of our compatriots, and just try (TRY!) not to laugh! I wager you’ll be able to relate to most, if not all, of his bookselling experiences.

Start with this one:

And end with this one:

But be sure to also watch all the ones in between!

Then feel free to record your own personal rants here. Purge! Purge!

The World’s Most Interesting Bookstores

Alison Morris - March 17, 2009

I stumbled across a website the other day that features photos of what it calls the "Most Interesting Bookstores of the World" and thought, "Yep. Those are pretty interesting!" But ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE is actually more accurate. Take a look at the photos of "Most Interesting Libraries in the World" too.

I went digging on Flickr for more remarkable bookstores and found some other great examples. One is an underground manga shop in Shibuya, Tokyo. Another is El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, which is housed in a former theater. You can get a decent sense of its scale by watching this video:

My favorite, though, might be the Lello Bookshop (Livraria Lello) in Porto, Portugal. (More photos here and here.) You can feel what it’s like to stroll down the Lello’s incredible staircase by watching the video below.

Funny, but I don’t get the same feeling walking up OR down the stairs in our store. (Sigh.)

What some places lack in aesthetic virtures, though, they make up for in charm and sheer VOLUME. I was amazed to watch the video below, about an unbelievable book-filled farm in Princeton, Wisconsin. I think the only place I’ve seen more books might be at the Library of Congress.

What’s the most amazing bookstore you’ve ever visited?

How the Future Might Have Looked for HMH

Alison Morris - March 16, 2009

Well, shucks. In a world where publishing empires grow larger by the day, it came as no surprise to read in PW Daily last week that both Hachette and Random House were bidding to purchase the trade division of only-just-recently-merged Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The article mentioned that a third bidder was an "independent publishing house." But there was ZERO mention of who the fourth bidder might be.

Now that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is no longer for sale, I’ll confess: that fourth bidder was me. I was personally going to buy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Its new name was going to be Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Morris, or HMHM. (I wanted to use "Macmillan" but that name was already taken. Again.) If Gareth later decided that he too wanted to get involved we’d have changed the name to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Morris Hinds, or HMHMH, which has a nice ring to it, I think.

You might think a bookseller wouldn’t have the capital necessary for such an investment, but let me tell ya — living off ramen noodles for the past ten years is finally paying off, baby!! As of this week, I was gonna have me a publishing house. And a BIG one that!

BUT… no. Darn it.

IF HMH is up for sale up some point in the near future and I am then free (having not already bought another big publishing house), my first order of business will be to offer a whole BUNCH of talented people their jobs back. I say the more talent we have on board at HMHM(H), the better. Payroll, my foot. There will be no pink slips at HMHM(H)!! (But the lunch room will only serve ramen.)

My second order of business will be to publish MORE CYNTHIA RYLANT. And require everyone on the planet to read Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. And sign Margaret McMullen to write a LOT more novels. And plaster Curious George’s image on as many books as possible! (Oh, wait. That last bit’s already been done.)

My third order of business will be to mandate BIG BOOK PARTIES every month, here in Boston. You New York publishing types can head up here to party with US, for a change!

For now, though, I will have to set my sights on other horizons. Who knows how dreadfully long I’ll have to wait before another great publisher goes on the auction block! (A week? A month? Sigh.) In the meantime, let me know if any of you want to join me for a discussion of your favorite HMH books over a steaming hot bowl of ramen!

What Books Would/Should Characters Buy?

Alison Morris - March 12, 2009

Do you think Huck Finn would read The Dangerous Book for Boys? On Monday’s post about the clothes book characters might buy today, writer (and former bookseller!) Linda Mowry commented that the post’s title, What Would Nancy Drew Buy?, led her to believe that I’d be asking what BOOKS Nancy Drew might pick up were she browsing in today’s bookstores. This is a perfectly understandable mistake and a perfectly wonderful blog post suggestion! SO, running with Linda’s idea, I’m asking you: What books do you think Nancy Drew would buy? And, just to open the field a bit wider, what books do you think other characters would pick up on their store visits? Or (if that’s too tricky) what books would you recommend TO them?

Linda said she thinks Nancy Drew would pick the following books, for the following reasons: "Because of her keen sense of justice, Anderson’s Octavian books; because underneath all that daring and competence she feels a bit of an outsider, the Mysterious Benedict Society stories; and for adventure, Graceling."

I think these are all EXCELLENT suggestions!

Now it’s your turn. Tell what what you think different book characters would or should buy and (if you’ve got a minute and/or it’s not entirely clear) WHY.

Adult Authors + Kid Lit = Often Imperfect Fit?

Alison Morris - March 11, 2009

Last summer I was contacted by a reporter from Publishing Trends who was writing an article about adult authors writing for the children’s and young adult markets. She asked me several questions to which I e-mailed her some rather lengthy responses, snippets of which appeared in the final article, which I highly recommend reading.

I’ve been seeing a lot of adult authors’ names appearing on this year’s Spring and Summer lists and for that reason I’ve been thinking again about that Publishing Trends article and my answers to their interview questions. I thought I’d reprint my answers here to see if any of you have any particularly strong reactions to them, or thoughts about this subject.

(Note that we are not talking about "celebrity books" here, but books by practiced authors of books for adults, some of whom have now become "celebrities" in their own right, but they are "AUTHOR CELEBRITIES" — which is different from, say, film stars.)

The questions I was asked appear in red, followed by my responses.

Do you have any comments about the general trend of adult authors writing for teens/kids (think Michael Chabon, Sherman Alexie, James Patterson, etc.)?

I think that writing for children and teens is different from writing for adults. If an adult author is capable of writing for a young audience and doing so in a way that’s engaging, effective, interesting, and entertaining (all the things we’d hope for from their adult books), then GREAT! Why not have them cross over? What’s frustrating is that not all successful adult authors are actually skilled at writing for children or teens. Their books are therefore a disappointment to readers and a drain on the market. I am definitely tired of seeing poorly written or non "kid-friendly" books appear in the children’s market simply because they sport names by "big authors." To me what’s most important is that a book be good and well-suited to its audience. That’s what’s going to make it a success and that’s what’s going to keep kids reading.

I think it’s important to realize, too, that the ploy of putting a "big name" on a book is a tactic used to sell to parents, not children. The author’s name isn’t actually going to mean anything to a kid until they read the book and find that it means something to them. At THAT point they will start caring, and looking for more books by that person. Before that? Mr. "Big Name" might as well be "Mr. Nobody" for all a kid’s going to know or care.

Why do you think more authors are trying kids’ books?

I think some adult authors are discovering the high quality of children’s books on the market today by reading to their own kids. Some of them enjoy the books they’re reading with their children and then think, "I’d like to create one of these! What fun!" Or they see the impact and influence that books have on their children and are moved to want to create the same type of experience for others or to fill a gap in their child’s reading. Two of the most popular series in our store’s children’s section right now (the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan and the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan) were both penned by authors who’d previously written books only for adults but were each compelled to write stories that would engage their sons who struggled with reading. When their "at home experiments" were successful, that was sufficient encouragement for them to then submit those "children’s stories" to publishers. And lo and behold, both of them are now world-famous — on a scale they hadn’t yet achieved through their writing for adults.

Some other adult authors are no doubt compelled to write for children because they see or hear about successes like Rick’s and John’s and figure this might be a way for them to follow suit. Or perhaps because the level of enthusiasm kids show for the books they love far surpasses anything most adults can muster, and the desire to get a piece of that excitement is pretty irresistible. Or maybe it’s because their editors encourage them to give it a go, thinking it’s a way to expand their overall readership or just probe another part of the market.

Can you give me examples of ways in which authors/publishers have reached out to you to promote these books? Any interesting publicity/marketing stunts?

I can’t think of anything particularly interesting or unusual that publishers have tried in this regard. I will say, though, that I can almost always tell when the cover of a book, the catalog copy, the marketing materials, and sometimes even the content of the book itself were produced by ADULT publishers who typically don’t edit or market or publish books for kids and teens. (As opposed to those books done by children’s publishers.) They invariably misgauge their audience on some level or use stock themes or excessive enthusiasm or just generally exhibit some sense of not quite knowing what they’re talking about. This drives me crazy! If you’re an adult author wanting to write for kids, for goodness sake try to sell your book to a children’s publisher or at least the children’s division of your usual house. THEY know the market, they know the audience, and they are considerably less likely to do things to or for your book that make us booksellers/librarians/others-in-the-know roll our eyes.

In the store, how do your customers react to these books? Do adult fans of the authors buy kids’ books for themselves or for their children?

I think there have now been enough of these books coming through the pipeline that our customers regard them with some degree of skepticism. They will ask booksellers IF, in fact, the book is actually any good, suggesting that they’ve tried other children’s or teen books written by adult authors and been woefully unimpressed. Or maybe they’re just aware that what works for them won’t necessarily work for their children. Or that reading a "children’s book" by their favorite adult author probably isn’t going to "feel" the same as reading that person’s books for adults. Whatever the case, we aren’t seeing books by big name authors (or by celebrity authors, for that matter) blowing out the door simply because of the name on their cover. But if there’s a big name on the cover AND we recommend it or they’ve read favorable reviews or they like what they read of it while they’re in the store, THEN they’re willing to take the plunge.

What types of crossovers have you seen that work particularly well? When do you think these books are less successful?

I don’t know that there’s any one type of crossover that I’ve seen work well, apart from the simple qualification of "a good, well-written book." These are what work well initially and continue to generate sales long after their immediate release. Carl Hiaasen’s children’s books, for example, are GREAT middle grade novels. They’ve continuously sold well for several years now, for that very reason. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a superb piece of literature that has been a tremendous hit with teens and adults — two audiences that I suspect are now buying up Sherman Alexie’s backlist titles at a new pace. It’s the books that just aren’t that good that by and large aren’t that successful. They aren’t the books that are going to pay off in the long run — both literally and metaphorically. 

(End of interview call & response.)


So, now it’s your turn to opine on this subject. Have you read many great books by traditionally "adult" authors who are now attempting to write books for children an
teens, and if so what are they? Have you read many awful ones? Who do think has been successful at making this age leap, and why do you think it is? Do you see adult authors routinely meeting the same pitfalls when they write for a younger audience, and if so, what are they? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And, adult authors? Listen up!

Awards That Went to the Wrong Books

Alison Morris - March 10, 2009

There are now almost 200 comments on my post from last May in which I asked you to name the books that are loved by everyone but you, and I’m still in awe of the fact that so people clearly needed that confession outlet! It’s been so much fun to read your comments on that post and see how many of you are THRILLED to learn that you’re not the only ones who hated such-and-such bestseller or doesn’t understand the hype about so-and-so. Your relief is palpable! And wonderfully entertaining! So keep those comments coming.

Since confessing seems to provide such relief to so many of you, though, I thought I’d open another vein here and ask this: What award winners really aggravated you, in this or in any year?

I KNOW there are a lot of you who have gripes about specific books or specific authors having won or having NOT won this award or that award in 2008 or in 1997 or… ever. And of course you do! No matter how good any awards committee might be, they aren’t you. They don’t necessarily have your taste, your viewpoint, your take on things. You’re one person, with opinions, many of which you may have been stifling for some time now…? Hmm…? You couldn’t BELIEVE that the Newbery committee would find something of value in X. Or you were horrified that the Nobel committee overlooked Y. You’re still shaking your head over the fact that 15 years ago your favorite local author failed to win your state’s biggest literary prize and your favorite children’s non-fiction author has repeatedly been passed over for a Sibert. If so, purge those complaints here, where you can even do so anonymously! 

I’m convinced you’ll feel better if you just get these gripes off your chest. (Especially when you see others chime in with their agreement.)