Books, Conferences, Professional organizations

Behind the locked door, part four – nearing the end

Our selection year is over – the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award covers books published between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31, so anything published after October 31, 2012 is eligible for the 2014 award but not the one to be awarded in a few short weeks.

Since my last post, I and the rest of the committee have continued to read, re-read, mull over and discuss the various books.  We had scheduled chats in ALA Connect and conference calls, all following the format I described earlier (first talk about the book’s pros, then the cons). Total, I’d guess we’ve at least looked at 90 books.  Of those, there were so very many books nominated (both from within the committee and from the field – aka you, the general reading public) for us to choose from.

Everyone reads differently, and everyone weighs elements of a book differently.  What was great about the discussions was that often the things I’d missed but that had struck the other members were things that changed my mind… and vice versa.  Hearing that others caught the same issues I’d caught, or had loved – LOVED – the same things I did validated my thinking.   It’s different from being in a book group, believe me.

As October wound down, we were asked to choose a preliminary top five from the eligible nominated books.  Some books were easily chosen, others easily left off.  But a few… really, it was quite difficult to choose from some of the titles.  The “good” part was that this was the Preliminary Top Five, not the Real Top Five.  Then we had a conference call to discuss that list.  We all felt that there were some books “on the bubble” but overall we were pleased that there was so much consensus.  Next task: the Real Top Five.

Again, weighing what everyone said during our first talks about the books, other comments made during the year, and this recent conference call, I re-read and pondered.  And came up with a Real Top Five.  Because this was such a difficult choice, it didn’t surprise me to learn that we were clear on four titles, and very very close on two others.  After some discussion, we have our Top Five (ALA has it, too, and will announce it later this week).  The e-mails after the list was finalized were so emotional – surprisingly so.  I mean, you hear about that from other committee members but until you’re there, well…

But wait, there’s more!

Remember how earlier in this post I said we’d had a lot of books nominated?  The Top Five, the shortlist for the award, are set.  But there’s still work to be done.  The books nominated by the committee that didn’t make the Top Five now need to be annotated and given out  (see previous years here – login required, sadly).   And of course, in January we’ll be meeting for one final session to talk about that Top Five – which one will be The Most Excellent Non-Fiction Book for Young Adults???  That, of course, will be announced during the Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 28, to be followed by a reception for the authors of all five books on the shortlist.

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