One of the greatest privileges I’ve had as a bookseller is serving on the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Awards Committee. The Shortlist of finalists was announced November 18.
I didn’t know what to expect when I volunteered, but when the hundreds of nominated books began arriving at my house by the boxful I quickly realized into what I had gotten myself!
Whether self-published or published by a small or big press, each book had to go up against my own criteria: I looked for beautiful books that felt good in my hand. I wanted, whenever possible, for the subject matter or point of view to be uniquely from the Pacific Northwest region. I gave a second look to books that have sold well, or that were extremely well-written yet so far overlooked, and to those that called out to me to be read, because, frankly, sadly, it is impossible to read every book that is submitted for consideration in its entirety.
I was tickled when books I had missed were pointed out to me by other committee members, and then turned out to be some of my favorites. I tried to do the same for a few of my own personal favorites, with less success. No matter. In the end, the books can and do speak for themselves.
As the list was narrowed to the top 30 and then to the short list of 15, by a process of us each awarding points to the titles on a spreadsheet, I thought to myself, “Will I be proud to share this book? Is this author someone I want to encourage?” I’m sure other committee members asked themselves different questions as they went through the same process.
Choosing the winners feels, I suppose, like choosing which of your friends you love the best. Really, you love them all, for differing reasons, and you need them all in different ways.
–Carol Spurling, Co-owner of BookPeople of Moscow, PNBA Award Committee Member