Mooning Over Book Lists

Voting for our first Nerdy Book Club Awards, the Nerdies, closed at midnight. We received 682 votes from all over the world. Thanks to everyone who voted. We will announce the top five winners in each category throughout the week in special posts. At this moment, I am the only person on Earth who knows the final results. I feel giddy. I will share the winning list with the other Nerdies panel members soon (and Colby Sharp if he is nice).

Reading our Nerdies Finalists list, I’m proud of what the Nerdy Book Club accomplished. The 97 books you nominated include those titles you believe represent the best children’s and young adult books of 2011. With librarians, teachers, parents, book reviewers, book vendors, authors, and scores of readers in the Nerdy Book Club, the 2011 Nerdies Finalists list came from the best reading community around. It’s a great list full of worthy titles, and it stands alongside the many Best Books lists flooding the Internet and review publications this time of year.

You might be a nerdy reader if you adore analyzing book lists.

I have a love/hate relationship with book lists. I love reading book lists because I discover so many things about myself as a reader when I do, and I hate reading book lists for the same reason. I love book lists for what they include and hate lists for what they omit. I question the categories, the nomination guidelines, or committee members’ taste. I’m still stunned that Moon Over Manifest won the Newbery Award last year, but my friend, Teri Lesesne, reminds me to, “Trust the process.”

It’s OK. I believe that all readers travel through similar stages while skimming book lists.

The Stages of Reading a Book List

  • Curiosity: Hmm. A book list? I wonder what books are on it?
  • Nostalgia: I fondly remember reading so many books on this list. Perhaps I should read them again/ share them with more people/ find more books by the same authors.
  • Validation: Hey, I have read a lot of books on this list! This proves that I am well-read and knowledgeable. Other readers like the same books I do.
  • Embarrassment: Gee, there are a lot of books on this list that I have never heard of—I wonder if this means that I am not as savvy about books as I thought. Although I have read almost 600 books this year, I still haven’t read some major book list titles.
  • Discovery: I haven’t heard of Bake Sale by Sara Varon, which appears on the Nerdies list. It sounds like another cupcake-themed middle grade romance. Dashing over to goodreads, I happily learn that it is a new graphic novel by the author of Robot Dreams, and order a copy.
  • Superiority: Several reviewers thought that (insert title here) was one of the best books of all time? Are they kidding? Can you say plot holes?
  • Inferiority: Colin Meloy’s Wildwood appears on many favorite 2011 books lists. I abandoned this book on page 75, desperately hoping that ravens would carry off the major characters for good. I must not be as smart as I thought– because I just didn’t get it.
  • Debate: I cannot believe (insert title here) is on the list. Closely followed by, I cannot believe (insert title here) is not on the list. I call my best friend, Mary, and discuss whether or not The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (a book we both loved) was really written for kids.
  • Goal Setting: Chime by Franny Billingsley has been sitting on my bookshelf all year. So many people liked it; I need to move it to the top of the pile. Determined to improve my reading chops, I order more books from Indie Bound and reserve four more from the library.
  • Rabbit Hole: I can make a better list than this one! What would be on my Best Books list this year?  I spend the next three hours combing through my goodreads shelves, making my own book list.
  • Reading: Looking at all of these titles makes me want to read something– anything!

No matter how many or what books you read, book lists provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our reading and make reading plans. I hope looking through end-of-year book lists provides you with inspiration and validation for your reading lives.

**For the ultimate book discussion of the year, join Colby Sharp and me for the monthly Twitter chat, #titletalk, which takes place tonight (Sunday, December 18th) at 8 pm EST. We will talk about how we use book lists to inform our reading lives and our book promotion to kids and invite participants to share their favorite of 2011.

**For an interesting analysis of four major book review lists, Kirkus, Horn Book, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, visit Kelly Jensen’s “Best of Lists By the Numbers” post on YALSA’s The Hub. You can access links to all of four lists through her post.

**I have created an annotated list of the 2011 Nerdy Book Club Award nominees and uploaded it to slideshare. Enjoy!

Donalyn Miller is a 6th grade language arts teacher at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School in Keller, TX. She currently writes a blog, The Book Whisperer, for Education Week Teacher. Donalyn lives atop a dragon’s hoard of unread books and spends her spare time traveling, visiting old friends, and daydreaming in the pages.