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The Subjectivity of a “Favorites” List

Last week my writing group was discussing our group’s book-of-the-month, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart. We were going around, generally talking about the book and I mentioned how I’d really liked it but hadn’t loved it enough to pick up the next book in the series, while someone else had liked it too, but had read all the books in the series.

“But wait a second,” she said. “Isn’t that book on your favorites list on your blog?” (How she managed to link to my post while speaking, I’ll never know!)

And yes, it is. I did really like that book and I did *think* about reading the next in the series, but I wanted to read something else first and then after time went by, I found I didn’t care about reading the next in the series.

So here’s the thing: My “favorites” aren’t necessarily books that I OMG LOVED SO MUCH I COULD SCREAM IN ALL CAPS!! They are books that I thought were very good and worth recommending to others. There were very few in the list that I absolutely loved: the Chaos Walking Trilogy (yes, the whole trilogy since I loved them better as a whole than individually), Fire, and probably all the picture books on the list, since I now have a very soft spot for any and all picture books. But the thing is, if I only recommended those books, I think people would quickly stop listening to my suggestions.

The love for a book is just so, so subjective (as any writer who has submitted their manuscripts to agents and editors can tell you!) For example, I ZOMG LOVED the Harry Potter series, to the point where I really can’t be that objective when it comes to rating any of them, but many of the people in my writing group were like, “Meh. I couldn’t get through the first chapter.” (WHAT?!??!) And likewise, while I loved the Chaos Walking Trilogy, my sister actually kind of hated it, and we usually agree on most books.

Similarly, the Lemony Snicket books are so, so popular and yet, I didn’t like the voice or the premise and as such didn’t end up liking the series (though my copies of the books are so beautiful to hold and look at), but does that mean I think I couldn’t recommend them as good books to someone else? Well…maybe.

I don’t only recommend all the books that I’ve read that I thought were just okay. I only recommend ones that I genuinely liked and thought were enjoyable, written well, and that someone I know might actually love (which to me equates with a star rating of 4 or higher on my Goodreads list).

Fellow bloggers (and book lovers), do you do an end of the year favorites/recommendations list? How do you determine what makes the cut? Do you recommend only books that you LOVE, or do you recommend more broadly?

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