Unsung Books

by - 2/23/2006

Two things happened yesterday, apart from the whole blog template saga you can read about below. I heard from author Lynn Michaels (see previous post) and read about an interesting "unsung" award in a yahoo group I belong to. The reason I mention these two apparently different things in the same breath is because of what they share - namely the "unsung" part.

As I've mentioned before, I particularly liked Lynn's "Mother of the Bride" which I thought was a rollicking good read with some surprising elements. (Want to know what? Like I'll read and tell! GO read the book.) I felt it was way better than some highly-publicized chick-lit books released at around the same time. Imagine my surprise when I talked to my friends, ardent romance fans since long before I got hooked, and they'd never even heard of her. Same with some other reviewer colleagues of mine. Even I myself had never heard of her when I picked up MOTB. It was pure chance that I did, but I'm glad of it. I went back and picked up "Honeymoon Suite" as well and even that was a winner.

That set me wondering - in today's age of publicity and hype, how many more such wonderful authors slip through the cracks all because no one trumpets about them? How many more "UNSUNG" books, bookworms like me miss out on, each and every day? (I believe I'm channeling Carrie Bradshaw here)

I thought I knew about them all. After all, I'm on countless author and publisher mailing lists, get book news from publicists and agents all the time, etc. But no single place tells me about all the books and genres I'm interested in, upcoming and otherwise. Amazon is a good place, but I don't want to and don't have time to click link after link after link just to find out who the publisher is or even the release date! Just a simple table would be great but as I said, no such central place - at least not to my knowledge.

Getting back to the original 'unsung' issue which started this rant - in one of the countless YGs I belong to, author Cyndi Redding mentioned that she's decided to create an 'Unsung Book Award' - a personal award for books that have captured her attention and forced her to cut other priorities short so that she can continue to read. She was talking about ebooks, but it sounds like quite an interesting concept overall. I know there are industry awards galore, books feted in this conference or that and countless bestseller lists. Frankly, not many of those make my personal bestseller list. But which ones would YOU personally like to recommend?

Off the top of my head and not including the ones above, these made my short list -

1) Harry Potter books, the latter ones especially. [The darker, the more intense, the better.]

2) Da Vinci Code ['nuf said]

3) Crichton's Prey [frightening concept that hints darkly of things to come]

4) Books in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series [to read them is to get hooked]

5) The Sano Ichiro series books by Laura Joh Rowland [Japanese historical mystery series]

6) P.G. Wodehouse books [penultimate British comedy]

7) R.K. Narayan books [Indian author with his own inimitable style]

8) The initial Stephanie Plum series books [The recent ones seem to be barely coasting along on the hype built by the original books in the series. But that's issue for blog another day]

I'll add more as and when I remember them.

---- Addendum -----

In reply to an email I sent asking her permission to blog about her award idea, Cyndi Redding not only graciously consented, but also informed me -"I'm probably going to be making this whole idea into a yahoo loop! That way readers can share some of their favorites with me and with each other! I'm looking at April as a start up date, and will post more about how to sign up later. I've already contacted the first recipient and she's delighted to accept."

Wonderful news, Cyndi!

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