With those extra days’ reprieve for online nomination for the BSFA Awards, I went back to see what I’d read that had been published in 2011. I knew it hadn’t been much. Six novels. Two short story collections.
I vowed I would do better this year.
The problem is, award season is such a distraction because it highlights all those interesting 2011 books I didn’t get around to reading in the calendar year itself, but which I bought, or noted, or for which I put in library requests. I want to finish reading the BSFA award shortlists. I’d like to read A Monster Calls, newly winner of the Red Tentacle at yesterday’s Kitschies. I know I’ll be tempted by the Clarke Award shortlist, the Hugo shortlists…. and it’s not as if one desire precludes the other goal.
Last year’s books are the shiny things I’m reading about right now, not the new ones, the potential winners of next years’ awards, the books which are only just beginning to be read. Last year’s are the ones I have handy already, the ones I know I’ll read at some point anyways, and I could just pick one up now since I already have it in the house….
I know it’ll be easier later in the year, when the awards peter out and novels published earlier in 2012 have had the time to accrue a critical mass of other peoples’ recommendations or reminders, in a way that the award-neglected books of Decembers’ publishings rarely do in time for the next round of award nominations.
There are still the better part of eleven months to go before other peoples’ “best of 2012” lists start appearing. But it sure feels like a betrayal of new resolution to begin 2012 by reading lots of last year’s books.
5 thoughts on “Reading Books of 2012”
I have a feeling that everyone gives up on the old year as the winners are announced. Is that right, or are there a lot of readers who start then, once the mass of critical opinion has formed and there is the chance to buy those winners in paperback?
If you want to get on with 2012, the only choice you really have is to decide to throw 2011 under the bus – to skip the shortlists and conversations about last years books; maybe even to pass on reading the winners. And then, reading more of what 2012 has to offer, you get the chance to create that critical opinion – or maybe just to find the duds and steer others away from them, which is the danger of being an early reader!
You’re right. And I’m still feeling sentimental about 2011, encouraged by all the award shortlists.
Reading the current year is an act of living dangerously in its way. There’s always the risk of ending up reading only the books which don’t make next year’s shortlists. As you observe, part of the act of doing so is to be able to help form them; but it’s still a risk.
Whether or not that matters is another question. It’s not reading the “wrong” books if they end up being those which don’t make awards lists (except to the degree that one goal is being able to participate in conversations), it’s reading the other books.
Hah. You beat me as I only managed to read three novels published in 2011 and sod-all short stories. Part of the problem is that I don’t buy trade paperbacks or hardbacks any more and so often by the time those editions come around, I’m about a year or more behind everyone else.
I was already realizing that downside of my goal: disproportionately needing to consider buying/the expense of hardbacks!
I also like being able to read books from the library when possible – and that has a built-in major delay for most books. It takes time to catalogue them, assuming the system receives them at all.
Or I could buy more ebooks, of course, but my default preference is still for paper when possible and not unreasonably priced.