Looking for a good book to read?
You won't have to look for long. The season of book awards is upon us, with a variety of organizations offering their recommendations of the best books published in 2011.
On Jan. 23 at its annual midwinter meeting in Dallas, the American Library Association announced its 2012 youth media award winners. Selected by librarians and other experts on children, these awards have long been guiding lights for parents, educators, and anyone else interested in books for children and young adults.
The John Newbery Medal for children's literature was awarded to Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, and the Randolph Caldecott Medal for children's picture book went to A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka.
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley received the Michael Prinz Award for young adult literature.
Three Coretta Scott King Awards were given. The author award went to Kadir Nelson for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans; the illustrator award went to Shane W. Evans for Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, and the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton lifetime achievement award went to Ashley Bryan, who in 1962 became the first African-American to both write and illustrate a published children's book.
For a complete list of award winners and more information, go to www.ala.org.
National Book Critics Circle
I spent a recent weekend in snowy New York as part of another book awards process. As a member of the board of the National Book Critics Circle, I joined two dozen other board members to select five finalists in each of six categories for NBCC's annual book awards.
We chose them in a marathon all-day meeting on Jan. 21 that was demanding but also a great deal of fun. The nominees were announced at a reception that evening. The board also selected Robert Silvers, longtime editor of the New York Review of Books, as the recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Kathryn Schulz won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.
On March 7, many of the nominees will participate in a reading at the New School in New York. The awards will be announced at a ceremony there on March 8.
The fiction nominees are: Teju Cole, Open City; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger's Child; Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision, and Dana Spiotta, Stone Arabia.
Nonfiction: Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War; James Gleick, The Information; Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918; Maya Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War, and John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead: Essays.
Autobiography: Diane Ackerman, One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing; Mira Bartok, The Memory Palace; Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America; Luis J. Rodriguez, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing, and Deb Olin Unferth, Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War.
Biography: Mary Gabriel, Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of the Revolution; John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life; Paul Hendrickson, Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961; Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, and Ezra F. Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China.
Criticism: David Bellos, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything; Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews; Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence; Dubravka Ugresic, Karaoke Culture, and Ellen Willis, Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music.
Poetry: Forrest Gander, Core Samples from the World; Aracelis Girmay, Kingdom Animalia; Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains; Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch, and Bruce Smith, Devotions.
In February "30 Books in 30 Days," reviews written by NBCC board members of all the nominated books, will be posted on the Critical Mass blog, bookcritics.org.
And finally, the Mystery Writers of America recently announced finalists for its Edgar Awards, and St. Petersburg author Lori Roy is on the list. Her chilling Bent Road is nominated for best first novel by an American author.
Another nominee with Tampa Bay area connections is former Tampa resident Ace Atkins, whose The Ranger is nominated for best novel.
For a complete list of nominees, go to www.theedgars.com. Awards will be given April 26 in New York.