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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Goodreads Choice Awards: Final Round with comments on the choices and what they mean (by Liviu Suciu)

Goodreads is running their third annual Goodreads Choice Awards in three rounds. I talked about eligibility and process in the post about the first round HERE, while the semifinal choices have been covered HERE.

Now that the field has been winnowed down to ten per category, you have the last chance to participate until November 30.

Remember that there are 22 categories so lots of things to vote for - in addition to the 4 main categories for me below for which I will add more comments including my predictions, I also voted again in Historical Fiction (Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran), History & Biography (In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson) and Middle Grade & Children's (based on my son's reading and what I glimpsed from the books myself, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick) as all these previously chosen semifinalists made it to the final.

1: Favorite Book of 2011 (click for titles)

Voted: A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

Second Choice: none

Prediction: I have no idea how the non-adult_sff titles stack up but I would say that the extraordinary mainstream success of the awesome HBO adaption of Game of Thrones that raised GRRM's profile from a fantasy superstar to an all American one, will propel A Dance with Dragons to victory.

Comments: With nine out of ten titles being speculative fiction of a kind or another (epic, YA sff, paranormal), the heavy book readers that make their home on Goodreads show once again what dominates today in popularity among the habitual book reading public not the casual "only NYT bestseller library-show/work small talk buying" reader.

This is just the best kind of news sff can get, though the one downside for me is the lack of serious sf in those ten as opposed to say the GRRM and Rothfuss (whatever its faults) fantasies, but at least the YA are reading sf!

2: Best Fiction of 2011 (click for titles)

Voted: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Second Choice: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Prediction: I have no idea how most of the titles stack up in popularity and the Goodreads number crunching indicates the Ann Patchett book is the most read one, though of course early vs late release dates make this a little unreliable as true popularity goes.

I would say that either 1Q84 wins based on the author's huge world following and reputation or State of Wonder wins for the reasons above.

Comments: Here I limit myself to say that today's world strongly favors the popular literary novelist not only in sales but in recognition and endurance and ten years or more from now on the only book from the list I see still living is 1Q84, especially if its perennial Nobel candidate author wins the prize which is due to an Asian author soon anyway as the Nobel politics go...

3: Best Fantasy of 2011 (click for list of titles)

Voted: A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

Second Choice: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

Prediction: Goodreads numbers and all I said above strongly favor Martin, but I think that Rothfuss will give him a tough battle; still the HBO series puts GRRM well deservedly on top.

Comments: Thinking about the comments we got here on FBC to the reviews of both books and my very different reaction to very long and relatively slow moving but generally well written as style novels, I realized that essentially for me it boils down to "I generally dislike college novels and showy protagonists, while I love dark, multi-character intrigue and tortured characters" so if The Name of the Wind blew me away as original and beautifully written with an only partly prima donna protagonist, The Wise Man's Fear disappointed me as repetitive and with a now whining and quite annoying protagonist, while GRMM can write the daily diary of Tyrion, Danni and the rest and I would still love it...

4: Best SF of 2011 (click for list of titles)

Voted: Leviathan Wakes by James Corey

Second Choice: Embassytown by China Mieville

Prediction: Goodreads numbers and what I glimpsed from sff sites I read, strongly favor Ready Player One, while the close competition seems to be Robocalypse; I would say also that Stephen King must always be considered a favorite too based on his huge popularity and release dates skew numbers here like in the Murakami case above. Going with numbers and the favorable reviews here, so I predict Ready Player One will win.

Comments: I would love Leviathan Wakes or Embassytown to win especially that from the list they are the only serious sf, so the only books that have a shot of being still living ten or more years from now, but as mentioned in the comments above, such sf is not as popular as the more popcorn one that the three books above represent.

Not that I do not like the occasional popcorn sf, but growing up in a completely different culture left me utterly indifferent at the "US/UK geek nostalgia" of the Cline novel, Robocalypse is mediocre at best by all accounts and what I browsed myself only reinforced that, while I never found Stephen King particularly entertaining either.


E A M Harris said...

Thank you for the reminder. I had forgotten the vote. Your post is very encouraging.

Jay said...

Last year 'Feed' by Mira Grant won best sci fi so when it comes to goodreads voting you have to understand the demographic that uses the site.

Personally I did vote for Ready Player One, and I could see it winning. It was a fun read and I found its lot better than Robopocolypse. The only other book I read in the sf category was Embassytown and while a much better book on many levels I just can't help voting for a book that made me feel happy.

Liviu said...

agree with the above and no problem, just that i wish Leviathan to win; saw that Left Hand of God was 2nd and almost beat the Sanderson/Jordan juggernaut in fantasy so weird things can happen, but this year lots, lots more votes

JLV said...

I really don't understand why people love George RR Martin, I guess that's why reading is subjective. His books are incredibly boring to me.

Divergent and Wise Man's Fears were excellent reads, however I don't understand how A Discovery of Witches could possibly be mentioned in the same breath with all the other books.


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