I’ve always had the feeling that award-winning books don’t work well for me. But, it’s always been anecdotal…until now!
I decided to find out for sure exactly how my reading taste lines up with the literary awards committees’ taste.
I used a spreadsheet (you can download it below to find out which literary awards best match your own reading taste!) to calculate the percentage of each major literary award’s winners (from 2012 – present) that I liked / didn’t like. And, now I know which literary awards to pay attention to (and ignore!) so I can pick better books moving forward!
My Best Literary Awards
These literary awards best match my reading taste…
- The Audie Awards (29%)
- The Shirley Jackson Awards (17%)
- The Thriller Awards (13%)
- National Book Critics Circle Awards (8%)
- The Edgar Awards (6%)
- These top numbers are somewhat low overall…telling me that literary award winners just aren’t my thing in general. Award season rolls around, I run!
That being said…
- The Audie Awards is for audiobooks…and I counted an Audie winner as a success for me even if I read that particular book in print format. So, this one might be cheating.
- Three of my top awards are in the mystery / thriller category…which I don’t even read that much of! This is probably the most useful thing I learned from this exercise. Even though I don’t read a ton of mysteries / thrillers, when I am looking for one, The Shirley Jackson Awards, The Edgar Awards, and The Thriller Awards lists make good recommendation sources for me!
My Worst Literary Awards
These literary awards least match my reading taste…
- Well, there go the big U.S. literary awards for me! I can’t say I’m that surprised.
- Although, I am surprised at just how badly I line up with the National Book Award. Of all the big literary awards, I always thought I related most to that one. And, I did like some of the nominees, but the nominated books I like never seem to make it to the winners circle.
So, why do I tend to disagree with the big literary awards committees?
- I do love literary fiction, but I prefer the type that’s also accessible to the average reader. I like the sweet spot between literary and commercial. Sadly, the books that are likely to get nominated for the big literary awards are the highly literary ones…not necessarily the ones accessible to the average reader.
- Many books that won awards over the past few years are political / “issue” books. These aren’t my favorites, especially when it comes to fiction. I don’t mind political issues coming up in my reading, but I like the issues to be organic parts of the story and of the characters’ lives. An American Marriage and The Great Believers both did this really well. I don’t like it when the “issues” completely take over the story.
Find out if your reading taste matches the big literary awards!
- Download the spreadsheet via the sign-up form below.
- Follow the spreadsheet’s instructions to find your Top and Bottom literary awards.
- Use them to pick books moving forward. Though I just used the winners in my spreadsheet, most awards have short and long lists, which could be great recommendation sources for you! Maybe you’ll even find some new-to-you sources you didn’t even realize were in line with your taste!
- Be skeptical of book recommendations from your bottom literary awards.
Give it a go! What literary awards does your reading taste match up with? How do you feel about literary awards in general?