On The Books: Let's hope you don't win a book prize

Eleanor-Catton.jpg

Image Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images. Eleanor Catton, author of 'The Luminarie'

You better hope you haven’t been nominated for any book prizes this year. (No, not really. Let’s hope you have.) A new study coming out in the March issue of Administrative Science Quarterly finds that prize winners face a backlash from readers. According to The Guardian, Amanda Sharkey and Balázs Kovács looked at 38,817 reader reviews on GoodReads.com. They compared the reviews of books that had won an award to reviews of books that had not. Apparently the reviews of the award winners took a notable nose dive after their authors’ accolades were announced. Sharkey and Kovács hypothesized that “many readers who are drawn in by prize-winning books tend to have tastes that are simply not predisposed to liking the types of books that win prizes.” That sounds like a circumspect way of calling us superficial social climbers for reading a book because it won an award. Doesn’t everyone presume something award-winning must be particularly outstanding and therefore worthy of our time? That doesn’t mean every book that wins a Booker Prize or every movie that wins an Oscar or every restaurant that wins a James Beard Award is going to be your favorite thing ever, but still it’s worth a shot. Also, checking Goodreads.com for your case study seems pretty amateur. What do you guys think? [The Guardian]

At least 265 copies of Anne Frank books have been vandalized in Tokyo public libraries over the past few weeks. For reasons that have yet to be determined, someone has been ripping pages out of books on the Holocaust victim at 31 different libraries.  [ABC News]

There are a lot of outlets for you to get your Olympics recaps this season, but you must take the time to try out the Los Angeles Review of Books‘ “Poetry Olympics.” Each author gets to put their own poetic spin on the recap process. Last night Lytton Smith, a creative writing lecturer at Plymouth University in England, covered women’s curling and offered a historical perspective on the sport, which is actually a Scottish game.

“And though the ghosts of Dickens’ char-women, of today’s low-waged Polish cleaners—almost always women—hover over the shoulders of curling’s sweepers, there’s no neat metaphor to be had. What we have instead is a suggestion, a moment of pause, like the admitted falsity of the simile, that in likening two things, signals their distance. Team GB is like Great Britain but also not it. Curling’s sweepers are like cleaners and so very much not them.” [LARB]


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