books and reading · pop culture

Rankings, Best of Lists, and Why I Love Them


If you’re a nerd like me, the end of the year means one thing: Best of Lists.  I love these lists so dearly.  I eagerly anticipate their arrival and then pour over them, comparing what I’ve seen/read/heard and what I haven’t, what I loved and what I hated.  For years, it’s been movies and books and maybe music.  This year, I had a sort of falling out with movies, and fell back in love with music (and by “fell back in love” I mean “became obsessive-compulsive about collecting”).  For the first time in a while, I’ve heard almost every album that’s making the best of music lists.  Even the really obscure ones.  Amazing?  Yes.

But I digress.

This post isn’t about the best of music (although I will be doing a post on that–so brace yourselves!).  This is a post about other dorks just like me who love to compile best of lists.  Like Kelly Jenson at The Hub, who has taken a look at the best of lists for YA books and done some hardcore awesome analysis.  It is amazing.

She looked at the superfecta (I had to look that one up, Readers) of review journals: Kirkus, School Library Journal, the Horn Book, and Publishers Weekly.  What she found is interesting, to say the least.  A few of the statistics:

  • Combining all four lists, a total of 63 titles appeared, written by 69 authors and illustrators.
  • The gender breakdown was 42% male, 58% female.
  • 4 books–Chime, Anya’s Ghost, The Scorpio Races, and Blink & Caution–made all four lists.
  • 3 books–A Monster Calls, Between Shades of Gray, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone–made three of the lists.
  • 8 books featured a main character of color
  • 2 had LGBTQ teens.

You should really go check out Jenson’s research–because it’s really interesting and has a lot of shiny graphs.  What’s most disconcerting to me is the lack of LGBTQ representation in books, as well as the relatively small number of books featuring characters of color.

Also, it would be interesting to compare the genders of authors making the list for children’s/YA with those on the best of adult fiction lists.  I have a feeling it would be very, very different.

Thoughts?  Opinions?


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