Thoughts #32: The Influence Of The Book Award


A couple of weeks ago, whilst writing my post on my new challenge, A Decade Of Award Winners, I noticed a common occurrence on Goodreads. Many of these award-winning books, that experts had deemed the best of the year in their respective categories, had pretty average ratings on Goodreads, some even below three stars.

I have to say, I found that surprising.

When I think of award-winning books, I think of the very best. A classic that everyone should read, an epic adventure where you follow every step, a world that makes you want to live in it, an utterly captivating story in every way. Yet despite these books being given prestigious awards, it seems like their most important audience, the general reader rather than the professional reviewer, doesn’t see the book in the same way.

I do wonder whether it’s because these particular awards I’m talking about are genre specific – fantasy, science fiction and horror – which whilst popular, will probably always have a smaller reader base than contemporary fiction or books that often top the ‘bestseller’ charts in supermarkets etc.

Sometimes when I read award-winning books, this is how I feel...

Sometimes when I read award-winning books, this is how I feel…

When I compare one of these award-winning novels to one of my favourites, it has a rating of 2.94, which just doesn’t seem right for something deemed amazing enough to receive a coveted literature award. However, it has less than 2,500 ratings, compared to the 140,000+ of that of my favourite, so it could be that within that smaller number there is a much wider variety to drag it down.

I have to say, that book awards do not necessarily encourage me to read books. My recent challenge is the exception of course! But usually, I would not pick a book up off the shelf just because of a sticker on the front telling me it had won an award – nor would I let the fact that it had won one influence my opinion.

Personally, I feel that just because a book has won an award, that doesn’t mean it’s worth reading. My challenge is giving me the chance to try out some new science fiction and fantasy from the past ten years, but if I pick one of those books up and don’t enjoy it, I won’t feel obligated to finish it. I know for a fact that I REALLY didn’t enjoy one of the recent Hugo and Nebula award winners, for example.

... but then other times I feel like this.

… but then other times I feel like this.

What do you think? Do book awards encourage you to read a book? Have you ever been disappointed by an award-winning book?


Challenge: A Decade Of Award Winners

A Decade of Award Winners

I’m always up for new challenges, as well as finding some great new science fiction and fantasy – so why not combine them? I’ve decided to challenge myself to read the past decade of award winners for the following awards: Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction Association, Mythopoeic, Locus Science Fiction, Locus Fantasy, British Fantasy Society, Campbell Award, PKD Award, Clarke Award, Locus First Novel, Stoker, Locus Young Adult, Shirley Jackson Award, David Gemmell Legend Award and David Gemmell Morningstar Award. And using the fantastic website Worlds Without End, I’m going to keep track of my progress here! I’m aiming for this challenge to be an ongoing one, with no strict deadline, and I am counting books read before the creation of the challenge. I will cross a book off if I attempted it but did not finish – after all, this is about trying out celebrated fiction, and if I don’t enjoy it then I won’t make myself read it. If you want to join in, let me know!



Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan Doctor Sleep Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie



Jack Glass by Adam Roberts The Night Circus The Wise Man's Fear



The Graveyard Book Blood of Elves The Windup Girl



Emissaries from the Dead by Adam-Troy Castro His Majesty's Dragon Wintersmith