In Episode 74, Sara Hildreth from @fictionmatters and the Novel Pairings Podcast shares her experience judging the Aspen Words literary prize.
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- Whether publishers stuck to the stated mission of the prize when they submitted books.
- The role of the Reading Committee and how it works with the judges.
- How Sara was approached to do this and if she got paid.
- The types of people that are able to take on a role like this given the time commitment and small payment (and some ways the process could be streamlined to open up a role like this to a larger subset of people).
- Sara’s personal process for reading, rating, and ranking the 185 submissions.
- Whether Sara was allowed to DNF and what guidance the Prize gave her about DNF’ing.
- How Sara balanced her personal enjoyment of a submission with the book’s literary merit.
- How Sara handled books where her personal views on the issue being highlighted differed dramatically from the viewpoint put forth in the book.
- The book Sara would choose as the winner if she was the sole judge.
- The impact judging the prize had on Sara’s reading life (including what she read when she wasn’t reading Prize submissions, things she learned through this process that she’ll integrate into her reading life moving forward, and it she’d ever do something like this again).
Sara’s Book Recommendations [34:52]
Two OLD Books She Loves
- The Affairs of the Falcons by Melissa Rivero | Buy from Amazon [35:18]
- Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony | Buy from Amazon [36:56]
Two NEW Books She Loves
- Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford | Buy from Amazon [40:43]
- The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson | Buy from Amazon [43:10]
One Book She DIDN’T LOVE
One NEW RELEASE She’s Excited About
Last 5 Star Book Sara Read [50:02]
Other Books Mentioned
- Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa | Buy from Amazon [26:18]
- Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (My Review) | Buy from Amazon [28:26]
- Fiebre Tropical by Juliana Delgado Lopera | Buy from Amazon [29:07]
- In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado | Buy from Amazon [34:14]
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald | Buy from Amazon [36:28]
- We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper (My Review) | Buy from Amazon [52:15]
- Fiction Matters blog
- Novel Pairings Podcast
- Fiction Matters Patreon community
- Aspen Words Prize website
Sara Hildreth is a reader, teacher, and lifelong learner.
Prior to this year, Sara taught high school English at an all-girls school in Colorado.
While working on her MA in Literature at Georgetown University, Sara began sharing her reading life publicly on Instagram as a way to connect with bibliophiles outside of academia. Through her participation in this community, Sara fell in love with recommending books to a larger audience all while challenging her thinking and expanding her own reading taste.
She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and their puppy, Mr. Bingley.
There will not be a new episode next week since the podcast is on a bi-weekly schedule.
The following week, there will be a full length episode featuring Ashley Audrain, the author of January GMA Book Club pick The Push (airing February 3).
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