Well, guess what, grumpy people- these lists aren’t going anywhere.
First, let’s explore what bookish lists are NOT:
- proof that all of humanity is dumber than dumb
- proof that we like counting more than reading
- the lazy way out of writing about books
Ok, now let’s talk about why bookish lists are GREAT:
- They help you decide where to start with a genre, author, country, etc.– BR, as you know, publishes helpful lists on a regular basis, such as Swapna’s African Reading List, James’s list of the finalists for the Best Translated Book Award, and yours truly’s list of women who write awesome steampunk fiction, for example. Tor.com has published a list of “Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy in Translation,” and The Millions recently listed a bunch of books with “colloquial titles.”
- They round up older books you’ve never heard about- How about a nice, juicy list of
“7 Obscure Children’s Books by Authors of Grown-Up Literature” (Brain Pickings) or Open Culture’s list of neglected books that you should really check out?
- They give you previews of upcoming books- For instance, Kirkus Reviews put together a list of the “10 Most Addictive Books of 2015 (So Far)” and earlier this year on SF Signal, I wrote a list of upcoming SFF in Translation. BR regularly highlights upcoming books in such regular features as “Fresh Ink,” “Ready, Set, Hold,” and the new podcast “All the Books.”
- They make you think outside the literary canon and think more diversely – “Recommended Summer Reading: An Alternative List,” “Our Lists of the Greatest American Authors”
- They help you get organized- where would we be without our personal TBR lists???
- THEY’RE FUN, FERGODSSAKE.
So if you’re one of those list-haters, don’t write a long, boring essay about why bookish lists are long and boring. If you must express yourself, just put it in a list.
(first posted on Book Riot 6/11/15)