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Book Awards Anxiety?

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Do you suffer from Book Awards Anxiety? Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, sweating, panic attacks and repeated stammering of “Um, uh…” when asked how many books you have read from the Booker Shortlist, Governor General Shortlist, Giller Shortlist, Pulitzer Prize, Baileys Prize, Nobel Prize, etc., etc. My answer is usually, “Oh, about NONE of them!”

As someone who feels she is still in her reading infancy, I’ll be lucky if I’ve even heard some of the authors! I used to panic about all the classics I had catch up on, but this week alone I was overwhelmed with “must-reads” from multiple literary award announcements.

The only thing I can do is follow my usual strategy and let my cat pick my books. Kidding! Truthfully, I will probably just shovel more books onto the TBR and hope for the best. At least I’ll focus on the CanLit.

Do you suffer from Book Awards Anxiety? What books did you add to your TBR after hearing they were shortlisted or won a literary prize this year?

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26 comments on “Book Awards Anxiety?

  1. Julie
    October 9, 2014

    Not specific to this year, but I did read Half-Blood Blues, The Sister Brothers, and The Sentimentalist only because they were nominated/short-listed for or won some literary awards. I probably would not have read them otherwise as they probably wouldn’t have appeared on my radar as they are not otherwise “famous” authors. I don’t suffer from anxiety around the book awards, but I do like to see what’s new out there that I normally wouldn’t pick up. Honestly though, I wasn’t that impressed with the Sentimentalist, but I LOVED the Sister Brothers!!

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      I read Half-Blood Blues for Canada Reads because it was only book I could get at the library in the middle of the competition! But I’m glad I did because it was a very interesting book. Sometime the shortlisted books don’t interest, but I usually pay attention to the winner.

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  2. A.M.B.
    October 9, 2014

    It’s rare for me to see a book or author I recognize on the short list for any of these awards. I read a wide variety of genres, but not much literary fiction.

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      Hmm, it never occurred to me this might be only something that happens with literary fiction. I should probably read a wide variety of genres too.

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  3. lauratfrey
    October 9, 2014

    Yes. I had a real complex after the Giller long list announcement. I didn’t know ANYONE except Toews and O’Neill and I’d heard of Padma Viswanathan but never read her.. all those others ones though??? And I follow CanLit, like, specifically, I read 49th Shelf, National Post, Globe and local book columns, browse Quill and Quire etc so what the hell???

    I don’t think I added anything to the TBR though. I can’t check because I’m banned from Goodreads right now. Self-banning, obviously. I dunno what you’d have to do to get banned by Goodreads 🙂

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    • Naomi
      October 9, 2014

      I’m always surprised by the number of authors I don’t know, but it just makes me want to read them all even more! I want to every year, though, and I never do. Maybe when I’m 55 and the kids are gone. Something to look forward to!

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      I only knew Toews and O’Neill on the list as well. Another blogger and I talked about these mysterious authors, so we’re not the only ones who noticed. Are the publishing companies not promoting these books sufficiently?

      Goodreads should add a feature where you can’t login until a specific date. I stopped adding books in Goodreads because it was making me — surprise — anxious. So I just randomly write notes in my phone, draft emails, etc.

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  4. Ngan R.
    October 9, 2014

    Oh goodness, I always get book award anxiety and immediately add books to my shelf after the lists are released. Recently, off the Man Booker Longlist I added The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (currently reading, good so far), Joshua Ferris’ To Rise Again At a Decent Hour (disliked), The Dog by Joseph O’Neill (yet to read), and actually, pretty much all of them. I’m overwhelmed just looking at the list again. I probably won’t get through them all this decade because there are always new books coming out that I’m more interested in. This experience has taught me to not try to “keep up” with the “best of the best” out there. Reading is so subjective, too, that I can’t possibly like every single book on an awards list.

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      That’s a good point, I also realized that the taste of the judges isn’t necessarily going to be my taste. I also tried reading To Rise Against The Decent Hour, but right away I knew it wasn’t for me and didn’t continue. Good to know that The Bones Clocks is a good book. I haven’t read anything by David Mitchell.

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  5. Cecilia
    October 9, 2014

    Ha ha, great post 🙂 I do feel some degree of that anxiety and I love what you said about still being in your reading infancy. Me too. Although I was a voracious reader as a child and I ended up majoring in English lit, I’d always felt a bit of a fake, because I really didn’t read as well as I should have as an adult (starting from college). I am now trying to catch up with the classics, keep up with stuff that is coming out, AND read some award winners. Overwhelming! I relaxed a bit this year as my TBR list is just too much. I just started “Us” as you know, which is long listed for the Booker Prize, but that was a complete coincidence. I was interested in the book and then learned that it was a finalist. I do have lots of past award winners sitting around my house that I hope to get to eventually.

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      “Us” sounds like a really good book. I recently did a Buzzfeed Quiz and it recommended that book to me for the Fall. I read sporadically during my teens and twenties, so I feel like I’m really behind. I guess we just have too take a deep breath and take things one book at a time.

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  6. Naomi
    October 9, 2014

    Ha! I was just thinking about this the other day. About how I wish I could read them all! But, then I find that if I go a couple of days without looking at any lists I start to calm down. Although, sometimes I realize I have forgotten them all, which bothers me, so I panic and look them up again. I just have to accept that I just can’t read them all. I was happy to already have read a few of them, and I requested a couple more from the library. For some reason I have concentrated on the Rogers Writers Prize. I want to read Girl Runner, Pastoral, and All Saints. There were a couple on the Giller list and one on the GGs I was interested in, too. Can’t remember what they were now, though. What does that tell me? Fun post! What books have caught your eye?

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  7. Naomi
    October 9, 2014

    Ooh… I just noticed that you’re reading Ellen in Pieces. That one sounds good. Are you liking it?

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      I completely forgot about the Rogers Writers Prize and they are going to announce the winners soon. I remember when Canada Reads was taking place I felt like I should read all of those books, but I’m not even sure if it’s an official award or just something the CBC organizes.

      I’m definitely going to read All My Puny Sorrows (my friend gave me her copy), The Confabulist, Sweetland, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and The Ever After of Ashwin Rao. I just finished Ellen In Pieces and enjoyed it. A few things that bothered me, but overall a good book.

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      • Naomi
        October 10, 2014

        I always want to read all the Canada Reads books, too! I forgot about that. That will be coming soon enough, as well.

        Loved all of the first three books you listed. Have fun reading them!

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  8. My Book Strings
    October 9, 2014

    I’m just happy that this year I had at least heard of some of the authors who are longlisted for various prices. That will have to be good enough for me… 🙂

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      Ha ha, we should just keep it simple shouldn’t we? I actually knew two names on the Booker prize list this year. Never heard of the guy who won the Nobel Prize.

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  9. kmn04books
    October 9, 2014

    I don’t get anxiety, per se, but like you, prize season always makes me realize just how little I’ve read! I feel like I’m in my reading infancy too (great term!). I’m going to make an effort to read some of the Giller Prize and GG-nominated books because I really want to focus on CanLit, but I say that every year and don’t ever get too far. Eep! Which books do you have your eye on?

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      I guess we need to try not to bow to the pressure and just take things one book at a time. I think focusing on CanLit is a great strategy. I think I will try reading All My Puny Sorrows, The Confabulist, Sweetland, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and The Ever After of Ashwin Rao. I think you have reviewed some of these books, right?

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      • kmn04books
        October 10, 2014

        Yes! I have All My Puny Sorrows, Sweetland, and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night reviewed! I have The Confabulist at home and I’m hoping to read that soon (I read half of it at the reference library and didn’t keep reading once I had bought it??). I hope you enjoy your reading – the ones that I’ve read from your list are goodies 🙂

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  10. rivercityreading
    October 10, 2014

    I don’t think I necessarily get anxiety, but I’m always interested in seeing what’s announced. The one prize I love following and actually try to read as much as I can is the Tournament of Books – maybe because it fits my reading taste best!

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    • ebookclassics
      October 10, 2014

      Ooh, I forgot about the Tournament of Books. I love the concept and it really does have a good mix of books. I tried to follow it this year, but it’s not clear to me how it works. It seems different from when I play the NCAA basketball brackets. 🙂

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  11. Darlyn
    October 12, 2014

    I feel the exact same way. I studied Literature in college, and I felt so ashamed when I saw the Times 100 list. I had read less than twenty-five percent of books in the list, which was kind of a wake up call.

    On the other hand, we shouldn’t let lists and awards dictate what we read. We could look to them for suggestions, but, in the end, I think we should read what catches our interest. Life is too short to read books we don’t find interesting. 😛

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    • ebookclassics
      October 14, 2014

      I completely agree. I guess we all feel the pressure to keep up or that we’re not as well read or something. I’m starting to not know what books I want to read anymore!

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  12. DoingDewey
    October 16, 2014

    I don’t stress out about reading books which are on short lists or which receive awards, but I do wish I had the time to read them. As is, I’ve usually scheduled my reading enough in advance that I don’t have time to pick up all the books on a short list before the winner is announced. I do think I’m going to try to read more Pulitzer Prize winning nonfiction though, since I’ve loved the few books in that category which I’ve read so far.

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    • ebookclassics
      October 17, 2014

      Ah, if there was only more time … It’s the same for me. I usually have months of books planned and it would have to be a very very interesting book for me to add it to the pile. What Pulitzer books were you thinking of reading?

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