Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Goodreads Choice Awards

UPDATE (12/4/14): The winners have been announced. To see the results, click here or read my take on the winners here.

This week, the annual Goodreads Choice Awards kicked off its first round of voting. There are 20 categories and 15-20 books per category and three rounds of voting. The first one ends Saturday, Nov. 8, the semifinal voting period runs from Nov. 10-15 and the final round of voting goes from Nov. 17-24. More than 825,000 votes have already been cast for the first round.

This is the second year I'll be voting in the awards. I admit, most of these books are on my TBR list because of the backlog of books I have, but more often than not, I've downloaded previews of each book onto my Kindle. Here are three of the categories and some of my picks:

1) Best Fiction
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Algonquin)

This category was brutal to pick a winner. Fikry, post-apocalyptic drama Station Eleven and Phil Klay's military tale Redeployment all have spots on my TBR. I've read excerpts for both Zevin and Emily St. John Mandel's novels, even going so far as to buy Station practically unseen. Both Station Eleven and Redeployment are shortlisted for the National Book Award. And yet, I'm giving my vote to Zevin's titular book store owner. The novel's line "No man is an island; every book is a world" is an apt description of the novel's key themes of loneliness, the rapidly changing book industry and a love for reading. What's not to love about that?

Outside of those three, the nomination list is stacked. Rainbow Rowell's Landline is sure to draw her legion of fans as will Jojo Moyes' One Plus One and Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, not to mention David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks and Haruki Murakami's latest.

2) Best Memoir & Autobiography
Life, Animated by Ron Suskind (Kingswell)

I admit the chances of Suskind's book advancing to the later rounds is probably slim (other nominees are more high-profile), but I'm rooting for this one out of deeply personal interest. As someone who is a total Disney fanatic and diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I had rapt interest in this book from the moment I read the first excerpt. Below is a Lesley Stahl piece on the Suskind family that aired on CBS Sunday Morning. If you can't see the video below, click here.

The book is up against the likes of Robin Roberts, Elizabeth Warren, Cleveland kidnapping victim Michelle Knight, Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman and The Princess Bride actor Cary Elwes.

3) Best Historical Fiction
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

This was the easiest lock in the entire vote. I've read the first several chapters of this book and it is beautifully written, almost lyrically. This book is a finalist for the National Book Award and has received near universal praise from all over the literary community since its debut in the spring. I'm a sucker for World War II-era books, so this one literally had me at its description of a blind French girl and a German boy who's a whiz at the radio. Their paths eventually intersect in the French coastal town of Saint-Malo as Allied troops prepare to bomb the town.

As for the category itself, it's a good category, even taking into consideration the heavy tilt toward Doerr's novel. Other nominees in this category include Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings, Lisa See's China Dolls and Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist.

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