Book Award Recommendations?
June 4, 2013 6:09 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are starting a "book club" for the two of us. The plan is to read an award winning book each month. The first month we'll read a book that won an award in 2012, the second month an award-winner from 2011 and so on. There are many, many book awards to pick from so here's the question: What book awards do we use to determine the "nominees" for each month?

We'd like to have, say, 6-10 book awards that we use to create the short-list each month. We're interested in reading books from a large variety of categories - fiction, non-fiction, mystery, young adult, science fiction, etc.

Here's some possibilities we've considered so far:

- Booker Prize
- Pulitzer Prize (but which version?)
- National Book Award (but again which one?)
- Newberry Medal Winner (children's lit)
- Hugo Award for Best Novel (sci-fi/fantasy)
- James Beard Award for Writing and Literature (food)
- Printz Award (young adult lit)
- Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel (mysteries)

Other recommendations? Obscure and or unique awards are encouraged. Thanks.
posted by John Frum to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

Wikipedia has a list of American Book Awards.
Lambda award is for works with GLBT themes if that is of interest to you.
posted by pointystick at 6:24 AM on June 4, 2013

The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction) for literature by women authors.

The Texas Library Association has the Bluebonnet Award for children's literature, with about 20 nominees per year since 1980.

The Golden Spur, for writers of fiction and nonfiction about the American West.
posted by topophilia at 6:26 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I read a book recently which had won the Arthur C Clarke Award, and it was awesome. I do like science fiction anyway, but I'll be checking the nominees this year (in fact I am doing that right now) to get more recommendations.
posted by greenish at 7:02 AM on June 4, 2013

I like topophilia's idea of using a state library award. I've linked the Illinois one which has some lovely books every year.
posted by BibiRose at 7:05 AM on June 4, 2013

What about the Nobel Prize for Literature? It's for authors not books, but will still give you a good list books to choose from.
posted by zinon at 7:09 AM on June 4, 2013

If you're interested in poetry, the National Poetry Series chooses interesting books every year in a variety of styles, and of course the National Book Award for Poetry shortlist is also a good source of great books.

SFSite Reader's Choice of the Year

Something's been up with this fan award the last two years - I think maybe a fan of the endless Sharon Lee / Steve Miller series has figured out how to hack or otherwise game the vote process, since installments in one of these series won for both 2011 and 2012; nothing particular against Lee and Miller or quick-read formulaic series, but this seems nuts to me given all the amazing books published in the genre every year. Before 2011 this award looks pretty dependable, quality-wise. I'm sort of suprised the SF Site editors haven't looked into it.

- Booker Prize

Bear in mind it's now called the "Man-Booker Prize" and that there is also an International version, which was just awarded to Lydia Davis for this year.
posted by aught at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2013

SEA Write Award, for excellence in Southeast Asian literature.
posted by seemoreglass at 9:26 AM on June 4, 2013

Orange Prize winners. The Booker has... issues.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2013

Here is the extensive past reads from a local book club that specializes in "notable books" such as those that have won prestigious literary awards. The list is also pretty cool because they also focus on diversity in their choices including female authors and world lit.
posted by forkisbetter at 10:42 AM on June 4, 2013

The James Tiptree Award is "an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender...The aim of the award is not to look for work that falls into some narrow definition of political correctness, but rather to seek out work that is thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. The Tiptree Award is intended to reward those women and men who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society."

Some AMAZING books in there.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:44 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction, which has gone to some wonderful books.

The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.
posted by sock of ages at 11:56 AM on June 4, 2013

The Nebula Awards recognize the best sci-fi/fantasy works published in the previous year. They're awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
posted by duffell at 1:52 PM on June 4, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the input everyone. We'll be checking out all of these.
posted by John Frum at 3:54 PM on June 4, 2013

Forget all those. The Tournament of Books has everything you need and goes back 9 yrs now! archive is in the sidebar. the winners have all been great, but read the commentary and you will discover which books will please you the most. enjoy.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:12 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, Tournament of Books is great! My project for this year is to read (or at least start reading and then abandon) all the 2012 nominees.
So far: 7 attempted, 5 finished, 2 loved. Not bad!
posted by exceptinsects at 4:29 PM on June 4, 2013

I don't really know about the Booker Prize's issues, but I have read quite a few Booker Prize winning books and loved them. It has introduced me to many of my favorite authors.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 4:30 PM on June 4, 2013

For crime fiction, The Gold Dagger.
posted by pianissimo at 4:36 PM on June 4, 2013

There are a couple of "best translation" prizes that might be useful for finding non-English language books.
posted by mediareport at 7:43 AM on June 6, 2013

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