Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dubious Honors I Present to Authors As I Glare At Them Reproachfully

I'm always reading something, so I've wondered for a long time how many books I read in a year. I really had no idea, since it takes a while to finish a book if I'm busy with other things, and other times I'll read a couple books a week.

This year I kept track for the first time. It turned out to be a pretty long list--thirty-nine books, including three audiobooks--but I not as long as I would have guessed. It's heavy in young adult novels, probably because that's what I was writing this year. I'll be catching up on my middle grade books now because I know there were a lot of good ones this year I don't want to miss out on.

I loved so many of the books I read, it's almost impossible to choose my favorites, but I'll mention a few in particular here. Some of the awesome books I read are 2011 releases; I'm not including those authors on my awards list below since this is about some of my 2010 favorites. Later I'll be saying more here or elsewhere about this year's releases, like agent-sister Veronica Roth's Divergent, Will Write For Cake member Christina Mandelski's The Sweetest Thing, and those by Elevensies authors I've interviewed for The Apocalypsies blog--Kristi Cook (Haven) and Beth Revis (Across the Universe).

I've seen a lot of "Best Books of the Year" and "Favorite Books of 2010" lists, so I'll do something a little different. 
It's an award list, of sorts.

Authors Of 2010 I Blame Things On 

1.  My year began with Jo Knowles and not enough exercise. As soon as I finished Lessons From A Dead Girl, I had to get Jumping Off Swings, which I liked even more. The guy I hated at the beginning had me crying by the end because I loved him so much. Although I read the books fairly quickly, there were a few days there when I really meant to get out and exercise, but couldn't bring myself to put the books down and get off the couch. So I am blaming you, Jo Knowles, for my big butt. Don't give me any excuses about too much chocolate having something to do with it, or how a few days couldn't make that much of a difference. This is all on you. Imagine my scowl as I hand you the Trophy of the Sofa Butt. (Don't imagine what the trophy looks like, just my scowl.)

2.  And you, C.J. Omololu. I love shows like Hoarders, so I was sure I'd love your book. But how's this for irony? As I read Dirty Little Secrets, about a home that's pathologically messy, my house just got messier. I really felt like cleaning my house. I honestly hoped there wouldn't be an emergency, because I would be too embarrassed to call 911 and risk paramedics seeing how long it had been since I did the dishes. But I had to keep reading to see what Lucy was going to do about her predicament. When I finished the book I was motivated to clean the house pretty well, but it was bad there for a while. So to you, C.J., I give the Failure of a Housekeeper Award. It's a mop. Don't worry, it's clean.

3.  Then there's Jandy Nelson. I must tell any writers who pick up The Sky Is Everywhere: you will throw this book down in despair and shake your fists at the heavens while you wail, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!" Don't say I didn't warn you people. How dare someone write a first novel that's that good? Sure, she's probably working on her 17th writing-related master's degree as I write this, but still, could she have been a little more considerate and toned down the awesomeness? It's enough to make the rest of us want to give up on the whole writing thing. For that reason, I present the Throw In The Towel award to Jandy Nelson, and I am throwing that towel really hard.

4.  You're next, Carrie Ryan. I'll admit, reading The Dead-Tossed Waves inspired me to make some cool little forts in the living room, but who am I kidding? My card table and couch cushions aren't going to protect me when the real zombie apocalypse hits. And when will that be? We don't know, do we? They could be at my window right now. How many nights did I lie awake and wonder about every noise I heard? And do you know how silly it feels to leap out of your chair and scream with fear, so startled when toast pops up? Not since Nightmare on Elm Street have I been so afraid to fall asleep. For you, Carrie Ryan, The Too Exhausted to Fight the Zombies Award. It's a black shopping bag, symbolic of what you've done to the area under my eyes.

5. And where do you think you're going, Josh Berk? Don't think you're off the hook. There I was, enjoying every minute of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin. How many people can pull off writing a murder mystery that's also laugh-out-loud funny? What a great character that Will Halpin is. And what part to I get to when I'm reading during a break at work? His post-lobster-ravioli um, "upset stomach," if I'm putting it euphemistically. ("Explosive diarrhea" if I'm not.) And what do you think I'd brought for lunch that day? Yes, lobster ravioli, dammit. Do you know the odds of this happening? About one in however-many-days-I've-been-alive, since I'd never had it before. I had it in an insulated lunch bag, but how reliable are those things, does anyone really know? So I threw it away. Which means I had to buy a replacement lunch which probably cost me like, $7 or something. So here, Josh Berk, The Lost Lunch Award, since you quite literally made me lose my lunch. Your trophy is a lunch sack filled with warm lobster ravioli and wrath. Enjoy.

Which authors deserve an award from you? Just make a list of your shortcomings and look over your reading list, you'll come up with something. Think how much better you'll feel.

And watch it, authors of 2011. I have my eye on you.


  1. I did precisely that when I read Jandy's book. No joke. I had also been working on a manuscript with a character wallowing in grief and realized, fuck it, I can't write grief, so I completely rewrote the entire manuscript to take that component out of the story. This is what Jandy does to people. And she's so sweet about it, too, which makes it worse. Plus she has a keen fashion sense. Damn her!!!!

  2. See, she could at least be badly dressed and surly. But no, she has to go and be all-around awesome. The nerve.

  3. Wow! I'm speechless! "Trophy of the Sofa Butt" sounds so prestigious! Thanks for the very kind words. I'm glad you liked Josh.



  4. You're welcome, Jo! It's a well-deserved award.

    And yes, I loved Josh and felt bad for thinking he was such a jerk.

  5. Ha! This made my day. I'll happily buy you lunch some day to make up for the wrath :)

  6. Thanks, Josh, sounds like a great plan!