So, when I see someone critical of the work of a committee, especially one on which I have served, I cannot help but be a tad defensive. Committees read lots of books. Then, they reread books. Then they discuss books according to the criteria. More reading and rereading. Narrowing down. More reading. More rereading. Always that pesky criteria to consider.
I am incredibly pleased and proud of the National Book Award finalists and the shortlist:
This list represents thousands of pages read, many discussions with fellow committee members, reconsidering, rereading, more discussions. We are all passionate about books; we are all committed to the charge of our committee. It is fine for others to comment. But when the comments are about things outside of the purview of the committee, I have to shake my head and wonder. How is it okay to be critical of the list in light of things not part of the charge or criteria of the committee?
It is not just the NBA that is being questioned. Some other books are being criticized and, again, in light of things that have nothing to do with the criteria for books making the list. And that will continue, I have no doubt. It is a shame in many ways because it dismisses the hard work of the committees who put the lists together. I will say now (and I will repeat it in January when ALA announcements are made): if you disagree with the list, fine. Construct your own. Discuss how many dozens (sometimes hundreds) of other books you read and dismissed along the way. Specify your criteria. Publish the lists. Share them. I want to see more and more books get PR, get additional printings, stay in print, reach more hands and eyes.
But maybe, just maybe, thank the committees for their service, for their hard work, for their lists. Know that this is ONE out of many lists. Then, pick up that next book.