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Why I'm Not Participating in Best-Of Votes

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Loring Wirbel I have a lot of skepticism about readers' favorites awards (look at the low caliber of music that gets voted in during listener favorite awards), but I occasionally get some great leads on books through the awards process.

Nevertheless, the failure of Hallberg's "City On Fire" to get nominated this year was a joke. It was a 1000-page book that came out in October, so obviously few have finished it, but I put it up in my top five or ten pantheon with the likes of Wallace's "Infinite Jest" or Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow." It makes you wonder - would those two books have been nominated if Goodreads had been around at the time? I think not.

I'm deliberately not participating in any voting in any category. It's far more useful when individuals put out their own personal lists of favorite books, albums, etc., because popularity contests rarely reflect what was really exceptional in any given year.

Loring Wirbel


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita I wonder if it was because "City" came out late. I recently bought it but didn't have time, yet to read it. Can't wait, though. Almost none of the books on the list were appealing to me, but others do love them. I am frequently amazed at the winners of the big literature prizes. Obviously, a different criteria is given than how I judge a book.


Loring Wirbel Anita wrote: "I wonder if it was because "City" came out late. I recently bought it but didn't have time, yet to read it. Can't wait, though. Almost none of the books on the list were appealing to me, but others..."

Very likely the time element made a difference. But yes, I am always surprised by both official judges' calls and reader popularity calls, but then again, my tastes are strange.


message 4: by Anita (new)

Anita Loring, I suspect your reading preferences aren't strange at all--just not the best sellers! :) I have that problem, too.


Read On! I read this simply because it was on the bestseller list and it involved the punk rock movement which I vaguely remember and enjoyed, so I had high hopes for it.
My god! What a slog. WAY too long. Far too convoluted. Many subplots that are never concluded. Endless drug induced ramblings and to top it off a totally anticlimactic ending.
Plus an unbelievable $2M advance for a debut novel - INSANE!!
I'm glad I reached the end though. The feeling of self satisfaction in knowing I had more staying power than the majority of people who attempted this, was worth the disappointment of the book.


message 6: by Gene (new) - added it

Gene Heinrich This book was supposed to be a highlight for me - New York city in the late 1970's and the punk scene, WOW, and I'm there. While I believe it started off strong it quickly went downhill fast after about the first 400 pages. This novel needed to be cut down at least by half! It just kept going and going, and taking some of the strangest plot twists that came out of nowhere, or major incidents (death of a certain character, for instance) that take place in a sentence while riding the train could take pages. High hopes for this novel, and sadly disappointed...


Greg Loring wrote: "I have a lot of skepticism about readers' favorites awards (look at the low caliber of music that gets voted in during listener favorite awards), but I occasionally get some great leads on books th..."
I'm with you Loring, as I'll not participate in voting here on goodreads. "Go Set a Watchman" was hardly the best fiction of the year, and "Truth and Other Lies" was by far a better mystery than the standard fare "Girl on a Train". That said, I'm a huge fan of goodreads!


Greg Read On! wrote: "I read this simply because it was on the bestseller list and it involved the punk rock movement which I vaguely remember and enjoyed, so I had high hopes for it.
My god! What a slog. WAY too long. ..."

About that $2 million advance, how does that happen to a debut writer unless said writer knows somebody? I know how hard it is to get a big publisher to take your book, but $2 million? If I were Hallberg, I would gladly have taken the money, that's for sure, but the history of how that $2 million came about must be a fascinating one!


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