The OF Blog: What do these seemingly disparate lists have in common?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

What do these seemingly disparate lists have in common?

Late December has seen the usual proliferation of lists.  Best of 2012.  Best of "centuries."  Best of the rest.  Best upcoming books.  Maybe even a best of the rest of the best of the rest of that list of best something-or-other.  I have read several, both those linked to on Twitter and those I see when I visit certain sites.  But there's a growing set of commonalities with many of them.  Let's see if you can detect a few of the commonalities without me stating it directly.  Oh, and there are some striking differences as well, which make the sets of commonalities even more fascinating to consider.

Locus "Best of Centuries" Fantasy/SF

Top 10 Anticipated Fantasy Books for 2013 - Part One:  Readers' Choice

Best Fantasy Books of 2012

"The Hotties"

Top of the Scots:  Five Favourites

The Readers Episode 56 (list, podcast)

What We Enjoyed in 2012 & The Future

SFF World Reviewers' Top SF, Fantasy & Horror 2012

The Top 5 Books of 2012 in a Few Categories

Favorite Books of 2012

Only the Best (of the Year) - Top 10 New Releases of 2012

Top 10 Books of 2012

Publishers Weekly's SF/F Best 2012

Books I Loved in 2012

11 Favorite Small Press Reads of 2012

2012:  A Year in Reviews

TQC Favorites of 2012

2013 Resolutions (contains a list of 22 favorites from 2012)

This year, next year

Looking Forward to 2013

End of the Year Booklist:  What Are Your Favorites?

2012 in Review:  Reviewed by Our Reviewers

Fifty Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels to Look Forward to in 2013

15 Great Science Fiction/Fantasy Books to Read in 2013

Books of the Year

Looking forward, looking back

The Best Fantasy Releases of 2012

The Wertzone Awards 2012

Top 10 (11?) "Indie" Books of 2012

The patterns I noticed were interesting, but there are some gaps in the lists, not to mention who is devising the lists.  I wonder what would be the favorites of those "voiceless?"


Anonymous said...

many of those "best" lists hardly differ from "to be released" lists?

Larry Nolen said...

Well, there is something about what is being selected and by whom the selections are made.

Anonymous said...

ARC books?

lack of int'l authors?

lack of story collections?

I really only had time to glance at some of the lists.

Larry Nolen said...

Wasn't thinking of the first. The second is a small part of it, same for the third.

Jaime Tello said...

A lack of quality?

Larry Nolen said...

Some, especially those around the middle/last third of the list, do have quality works, but there's an interesting spectrum here.

Here's what I noticed, since this post's been up for a few days:

The ethnic/gender background of the list writers seems to shape those lists. Men, particularly younger white males, tend to select books targeted for their demographic. White women are more varied in their selection, with more women but not necessarily a majority of them on their lists, but the type of story chosen for their lists differs significantly.

Those who review realist/literary genres have a broader range of story types chosen, but they also broadly fall within the parameters I note above.

There are very few lists here from non-whites. This is a failure of searching, no doubt, but those that do appear mostly come from non-Anglo-American regions and their selections represent an interesting mixture of books selected.

This isn't condemning anyone as much as noting that it's so easy for group dynamics to play a role in list selection and promotion. I didn't put my Best of 2012 lists here in this links page, but what I noticed was out of the final list of 25 notable books (excluding the 10 honorable mentions), that I had this breakdown:

8/25 - women writers
17/25 - men writers
5/25 - translated fictions
7/25 - non-white (including biracial) writers
18-25 - white writers, including 12/25 being white male writers

And that's one of the better percentages I've noticed in the lists I linked to. Lots more out there in this world than what our group identification preferences are letting us discover, I fear.

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