|Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2016 Discussion Challenge.|
Last year, I decided that I wanted to read the entire backlist of a literary award. It took me a few weeks to choose which award because most of them didn’t interest me. Some of the well-known awards have been around for so long that it would take me the rest of my life to read all of the winners. I decided on the Printz Award because it has only been around since 2000, and most of the winners sounded intriguing. I started reading the winners in October 2015 and finished in January 2016.
The American Library Association gives the Michael L. Printz Award to the year’s “best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit.” The Printz Award is the young adult equivalent of the Newbery. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and anthologies are all eligible to win.
These are all of the winners. Click the titles to see my reviews.
I kept notes while I was reading these books, but I can’t come up with a way to organize them into a coherent and insightful post. So here are my random rambles about the Printz Award winners.
1. These books are ridiculously well-written. I love YA, but I’ll admit that the genre isn’t famous for its brilliant writing. Most of the YA books I’ve read have been fairly bland in the writing department. That’s not the case with these books. All of the winning authors have unique and distinctive ways of using language. If you want to learn how to write fiction, I’d suggest reading these books.
2. Reading an award backlist is a great way to discover new authors. I had heard of most of the winning authors, but not all of them. One author I discovered through reading the winners is Marcus Sedgwick. I think his book, Midwinterblood, was made just for me. It has everything I want in a book. I had never heard of that novel before looking at the award list. Now I want to read everything that Marcus Sedgwick has written.
3. Reading an award backlist got me (slightly) out of my comfort zone. I’m comfortable with reading YA, but some of these books I would have never picked up on my own. Getting out of my comfort zone helped me discover what I like and dislike in books.
4. Who is the Printz Award for? Who is the target audience for literary awards? I liked reading the winners, but I found myself wondering about this a lot. Who are the judges picking the winners for? If the judges are choosing the “best” YA books, you’d think they would be picking books that teens like, but I couldn’t imagine myself reading some of these books as a teen. I wouldn’t have had the patience for them. Some of the books remind me of the type of stuff that I was forced to read in high school English class. English class books were good for my brain but boring as hell. So is this award meant for teens, or educators, or librarians, or what?
5. I once heard that the goal of literary awards is to bring attention to overlooked books. That’s a goal that I would like to support. I haven’t seen many of the Printz Award books reviewed on blogs. Some of them definitely deserve more hype. I hope my reviews helped bring love to amazing under-hyped books.
6. I liked most of the winners. There were three winners that I didn’t like, a few that I felt “Meh” about, and a bunch that I fangirled over. I haven’t read all of the runners-up, but I think the award committee did a nice job of picking the winners.
7. Which winners were my favorites? Definitely Midwinterblood. Some other memorable ones are How I Live Now, Looking for Alaska, The White Darkness, and I’ll Give You the Sun.
8. I want to do this again. I want to read another award backlist. The Man Booker International Prize was reconfigured this year, so I might try to keep up with those winners. I’m also interested in the Iowa Short Fiction Award, but that award has been around since 1969. I don’t think I could read all of the winners. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Do you read award winners or pay attention to literary awards?