Awards question

Been having a discussion on the effectiveness of awards. Are there any book awards you follow? Any awards that you automatically read the winners or shorlisted books? Can be any genre.

If not, why do you think?



  1. Alys on #

    An award can be “effective” for a variety of reasons. From the context it looks like in this case you mean an increase in people reading that book?

    There aren’t any awards that will 100% get me to read a book, even if I have absolutely no interest in it. That being said, I’m a big fan of the Cybils, and will usually try to read their shortlist fiction choices. That’s a good award because they look at kid/ya-friendliness AND good writing. It’s hard to find awards that do both, so you either get incredibly good writing that may or may not be “fun” reads (the Newbery) or awards that just look at popularity and might not indicate good writing (the myriad of popularity awards). Although, that being said, I almost always read the Newbery if the winner is a book I haven’t already read. (Of course, I’m a youth librarian …)

  2. Megan Crewe on #

    Awards affect my reading habits only to the extent that when a book wins an award, other people start talking about it, which means I’m more likely to hear about it and consider picking it up myself. But I’m no more likely to pick up a book people are talking about because it won an award than a book people are talking about for some other reason. And I don’t check the winner lists myself.

    Why? Because I’ve never found that a book winning any particular award makes me noticeably more likely to enjoy it. 😉 And I have really disliked books that have won major awards. So I find it easier to stick to my ‘reading what sounds interesting based on what my trusted reader friends are saying about it’ strategy.

  3. Marko on #

    I generally pick up the winner and short list for the Hugo, but that’s because I’m a big SF/F geek.

    The Pulitzer winners are generally tolerable reads, too, for the kinds of novels what don’t have elves or space ships in them.

  4. Peter C. Hayward on #

    I follow the Hugos, only because a few of the bloggers whose blogs I read (namely John Scalzi) posts about them.

  5. marrije on #

    there’s not one particular award I follow these days, though it won’t hurt if I see an award sticker on a book I hadn’t heard about yet.

    I think awards are particularly useful if you want to give a gift in a genre or category you don’t read yourself. I know my parents and grandparents automatically bought me any of the books that got the “griffel” awards for children’s books in the netherlands when I was yea high.

  6. Kevin on #

    Awards tend to be indicators of books that are good reads and are well written. There are a couple of lists that I follow: Hugo and Nebula, of course, for SF; also, Booker Prize winners for good literature. (I’ve even read one Oprah pick: Pillars of the Earth.) I sometimes try to read the winners of these lists, and sometimes even the nominees, but there are many good books that don’t even get nominated, and so many other books I want to read, that I’ve only managed to make a small dent in these lists.

  7. El on #

    The buzz surrounding an award has more influence on whether I’ll read a book than whether it wins. But the buzz definitely matters. Also, which award it is makes a difference–I’d expect a Nebula to be more literary than a Hugo, for example, and I can only stand so much literary in my fiction. (The more self-consciously literary, the more I go ACK. Literary because it’s right for the book is fine. No, I don’t have a clue how to explain the difference.)

    I read Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union because it got FOUR awards (Hugo, Nebula, Sidewise, and Locus). Liked the book.

  8. Sherwood on #

    I tend to look askance at awards, as that signals to me a political component. That’s not to say I will refuse to read a book with lots of award buzz. But I’ll want to see the physical book first, whereas I’m more likely to buy something that comes with recommendations from readers. I don’t sense the political lens torquing between me, the recommender, and the text.

  9. Kelly McCullough on #

    I do follow awards news for the Hugo and Nebulas, but only in a social, industry-news sort of way. I can’t think of any book I’ve ever picked up because it won an award. The reason for that is that I’ve put down quite a few despite awards won. As far as I can tell there is no award that tracks well with what I enjoy as a reader. Whether I enjoy a book and if it has won an award seem to have only a coincidental connection.

  10. Robyn on #

    This year I tried to read everything short-listed for the Cybils awards, but I think I only read five of them, and then I got bogged down in something else. I figured that was a good goal, because it got me to read some books I never would have picked up otherwise. It’s easier to do something like that (for me anyway) with YA/middle years fiction, because each book doesn’t take that long to read. If I tried to read everything for, say, the Hugos, I’d probably fail.

    I should return to that Cybils awards activity (even though I know who won now). It was a worthwhile activity.

  11. Robyn on #

    This year I tried to read everything short-listed for the Cybils awards, but I think I only read five of them, and then I got bogged down in something else. I figured that was a good goal, because it got me to read some books I never would have picked up otherwise. It’s easier to do something like that (for me anyway) with YA/middle years fiction, because each book doesn’t take that long to read. If I tried to read everything for, say, the Hugos, I’d probably fail.

    I should return to that Cybils awards activity (even though I know who won now). It was worthwhile.

  12. Jennie on #

    I try to read nominees for the Campbell award. I’ve discovered the most fabulous authors that way. I found them to be much more to my taste than Hugo or Nebula award winners or nominees.

    Being a huge fan of YA, I also try to read Newbery award nominees & winners.

    I’ve never heard of the Cybils but I’m seeing them mentioned in your comments, I’ll have to check them out.

  13. Alysa on #

    I follow the Cybils and keep my eyes open for books that win the Newbery or Printz — then if the winners strie my interest I give them a shot!

  14. Petréa Mitchell on #

    I automatically read all the Hugo-nominated short stories, novellas, and novellettes these days, primarily because I’m a Hugo voter and all the nominees in those categories are made available online now.

    Seeing which books are nominated for Hugos and other major sf awards sometimes induces me to put something on my mental list of stuff I should read (Brasyl and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union being the big ones this year), but it doesn’t usually cause me to go rushing out to the bookstore immediately.

  15. Katie on #

    If there’s a book in my To Be Read list and it shows up on an awards shortlist it might move it up the pile a bit. Other than that, there are great books that don’t get awards and crap books that do, so the mere fact that the book is an award winner/nominee probably won’t affect my chances of reading it.

  16. Beth on #

    I love the Caldecott, Newbery & Printz awards. I also follow the MI thumbs up because I am a Librarian (in Michigan) and I want to know what Teens are reading.

  17. cbjames on #

    I almost always read the Newberry Award winners but I am a middle school English teacher. I used to follow the Booker Prize, but not after this year. Anyone who could seriously consider Child 44….

    I have been paying much closer attention to the Hugo Award since I started reading so many short stories, including science fiction, this year.

  18. Carbonel on #

    The Andre Norton awards

    1. I am a died-in-the-wool geek with her own plushy chthulu and custom velvet dice bag.

    2. They are excellent value: as good as a Trina Shart Hyman cover for predicting hours-o-reading fun

    3. I’m supposed to be the local go-to-gal for YA SF&F and they keep me honest.

  19. caitlin on #

    I’m a big fan of the YA National Book Award winner and honors also the Printz. Paper Towns anyone?

  20. Vicki on #

    Newbury winners stand a better chance with me because I like a smart read and they usually qualify. I’m not a big s.f. reader, but I love fantasy so any fantasy novel that wins a big award – or earns interest by word of mouth – is going to attract my attention.

  21. Yanni on #

    I notice more now about the awards in the sf/f realm, however I almost never have read the stories nominated before the award is announced. Once upon a time I thought I should read all the Hugo and Nebula winners. Now I read things as they strike my fancy or as they are recommended to me, which tends to have more weight to whether or not I’ll read something.

  22. Jaye on #

    I tend to generally follow some awards, but not as a hard and fast rule. I think it would be a really interesting project to read something from every Nobel Prize author, for instance, to get a feel for the kinds of work the committee likes. The same goes for the Pulitzer, Booker, etc. It’s more of a pet project than a resource for finding all of my new reads, but in this case awards do have an influence on what I read.

    Also, I don’t know if the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list counts as a prize, but I’m trying to make my way eventually through that, too (Finnegans Wake…*shudder*).

  23. JW on #

    I actively avoid all awards news. I’m not sure why there are so many awards (especially for genre) and what anyone cares about them.

  24. Charlotte on #

    I had a great time reading the Cybil’s shortlists! Because a criteria for this award is that the books be the sort that kids will enjoy reading, the books tend to be ones that I enjoy reading as well…

  25. Bob on #

    When I first started reading SF around 1970 I read the Hugo Winners books edited by Isaac Asimov. I immediately wanted to read everything (from short stories to novels)that were nominated for the Hugo award. Then I bought Howard DeVore’s book about the International Fantasy, Hugo and Nebula awards and have since read everything nominated for thode awards. Then I found the Locus awards and I read the top five of almost every category there. I have since moved on to the BSFA awards, the John W. Campbell Memorial awards and the Arthur C. Clarke awards. (After all this reading, I find that I agree with some winners and not with others as being even the best of the lot. But no matter the year, the nominated works always contain some gems and some dogs!)

    As you can see I feel the awards are valuable to give me a good overview of what’s good. And even with all these various awards I follow I know I still miss out on great reads. But, we all do no matter how we choose our reading pleasure.

    Of course, in reading all these I have found authors that I read whether nominated or not. Because something has been nominated for an award it “forces” me to read new or different authors that I would never have picked up otherwise. (You are an example of that Justine. Without your win of the Andre Norton award I never would have read your Magic or Madness series. Which I am so glad I did – you see because it was so good it caused me to buy and read all three!) Sometimes this leads to an author I pray will never, ever be nominated again, other times it opens me up to a great and glorious read. Which then – like a long chain of others I will add to my “must read” list. This means I am never at a loss for something to read! I have a broad reading in the SF/F world and I have found authors I have enjoyed (and others I have hated!). But each book, whether an author I consider an old friend or completely new to me can be a revelation.

  26. Alpha Lyra on #

    Usually when the Newberry awards come out, I look at the list of the winner and the honor books, pick out the book I think sounds like the most fun, and read it.

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