Ok, so hate is a strong word. I mean, I love books. I’ve helped judge a couple of book awards. But yesterday the National Book Critics Circle announced its finalists for 2012, and every time I see these notices on Twitter or The Millions or wherever, I just feel so…lethargic.
First off, I rarely read so much contemporary fiction that I have read all (or most) of the nominees. I’ll have heard of the titles, perhaps, but I’m not one to do award reading. Why? Most often, the awards are from one particular year. I don’t like limiting myself to contemporary fiction alone, especially from the preceding year only. Therefore, I’m not invested. I may have read one, sometimes two, on a list of ten or more, but that isn’t enough to feel like I can speculate on the nominations or eventual winners.
Second, awards are so completely subjective. Last year, the Pulitzer committee didn’t award a prize in fiction. When Michael Cunningham wrote a letter to the New Yorker regarding the jury’s decision, he cited lines he thought were brilliant and ones he thought were subpar. My opinion? Exactly the opposite of what he thought. Yes, he’s the genius writer, and I’m an instructor of English. But again, it’s opinion. I don’t like overly wordy prose. Can’t stand it, in fact.
So each time another award or nomination is announced, I stay silent, hoping no one will notice my complete lack of interest, feeling as though it makes me less connected in the bookish/blogging world. But who are we kidding? I’ve always been on the outskirts. I’m one of the few book blogs that doesn’t have the words book, read, or literary in the title. I don’t know another blogger who writes about home decor as much as I (once did) do. In the end, does it matter? No.
Instead, I’ll gladly keep picking my newest reads based on my mood, ignoring the articles about which book should win and how brilliant it is. Because in the end, books thought to be rubbish today may remain, while highly lauded books don’t always stand the test of time. I’m ok with that.