Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lists are nice, but...

Yesterday YALSA announced some of their annual lists, including Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA), Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and Popular Paperbacks.

THE DAY BEFORE was nominated for the BFYA and Quick Picks, and CHASING BROOKLYN for the Popular Paperbacks list (a huge thank you to the people who nominated them).

In the end, one panned out - THE DAY BEFORE made the 2012 Quick Pick List for Reluctant Readers. I love that there is a list like this to help librarians when teens come to them and say, I have to read a book for xyz, but I hate reading. I think this happens more than we might think. And I'm really honored and appreciative that THE DAY BEFORE made the list. My book, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, made the same list in 2009. And it's true, my books are great for reluctant readers. I know because I get notes all the time that say, "I usually hate to read but I love your books."

But honestly, I always sort of dread the day the lists are announced. Because while there are many happy people, I also know there are just as many disappointed people. People who have written wonderful books, and get no recognition on any of the lists.

Making one of those lists, especially the BFYA list, feels good. Well, I can only assume it does, because I've never made that list. It means a committee of librarians, after getting teen feedback, felt your book deserved to be named "one of the best of the year." It's a huge honor!

So, somehow, when you don't make the list, you have to come to terms with the fact that yours is not one of "the best."

Except, I'm here to tell you, it is.

Your book may not be one of the best to that group of librarians. But somewhere, I'm pretty sure, there is a kid who loves YOUR book more than any other book. And that's what you, and I, have to hold in our hearts.

Occasionally I find myself wishing I could write like Sara Zarr or John Green or Nina LaCour or Lindsey Leavitt or Stephanie Perkins or Sarah Ockler or... (I could go on forever). But as I've talked about before, that will never happen. I am who I am. I write what I write. And lists or no lists, stars or no stars, riches or no riches, my books do have a place on the shelves.


It is hard to feel "less than." I know, because I feel it sometimes as a writer. And I hate that. This isn't high school. I shouldn't feel like I don't fit in because I don't have the best jeans and the cutest shoes. My YA novels are different, and sometimes different is ground breaking and transcending, and sometimes it's just... different. And like I tell kids all the time at school visits, it's okay to be different! But different isn't always popular, and that's what's hard.

Anyway... I guess I just wanted to send out a note to anyone who might be feeling a little down about not making one of the lists yesterday. Or any of the "Best of" lists that come out at the end of every year.

As Sara Zarr once said, one of my favorite quotes of all time: "A book is a wonderful, miraculous thing. But in some sense, it's also just a book."

It's all about perspective, really.

Last year, when CHASING BROOKLYN didn't make any of the lists, I remember it didn't phase me at all. I was so consumed with worry, and praying and hoping for my friend, Lisa Madigan, who had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was fighting for her life. There's some perspective, right there. I remember reading tweets and blog posts about the lists and all I could think was, who cares? My friend is dying.

No BFYA for me. Oh well. Life goes on, and because it does, I get to write more books, and that's really the thing worth celebrating, right there, I believe!


  1. You are like this beacon of insight and wisdom in the YA world, you know that Lisa, right? Your blog is one of the few I read regularly because you always have something smart and kind and wise and funny to say. I adore you! And I FREAKING LOVE YOUR BOOKS! I have read all of them! Can't say that about many authors

    1. Thanks my dearest Daisy! I adore you. Let's hang out again sometime, k? :)

  2. Thank you so much for this post, Lisa. *hugs*

  3. You are on my BFFYA list (best friends forever in YA) And just last night I was driving a girl in Rylee's dance class home and I asked what her favorite book is and she said "It's called It's Raining Cupcakes, but I like the new one just as much" (naturally, Rylee freaked out and said that you hang out at our house "Like every weekend"--don't I wish). Anyway, just to add to your theory. You're a favorite of MANY, me included.

    1. Oh wow, that is funny.

      Love you to the moon and back, LL. Am counting the days 'til that milkshake!

  4. Such a great, inspiring post. You are right, touching kids with our stories is far more important than any list. (But I am so happy for you..the thing about lists is that sometimes they help get the books into more hands, which is the best part about them!)



  5. You're on my favorite list!! I think lists like this are good but also hard to make, especially since the nominations are open. But you know what makes me excited? That you write such amazing books and that I get to share them with my teens! Here's hoping we'll get to meet in person again someday!:)