Readers rejoice, there is a platform for the bookworms of the world, and it is called Goodreads. Be it an online library, virtual bookshelf or just a platform to track your reading goals and chat with pals, Goodreads really does have it all, and its annual Choice Awards are not to be missed. With that, it's that time of the year. The readers have spoken, and the votes for 2020 are in!
A whopping 5.6 million votes cast confirms this isn't your typical judges' panel. Since the voting commenced in late October, 8 December could not have come soon enough for the platform's faithful users. After waiting in anticipation, we can finally celebrate the winners of the 12th Goodreads Choice Awards. The well-known and inclusive award leaves no stone unturned with its twenty competing categories. From cookbooks to poetry, debut fiction to sci-fi, picture books to historical novels, the award ensures that everybody from foodies to aspiring writers have something to look forward to. If nothing else, it's a welcome opportunity to add a few more titles to the never-ending 'to be read' pile.
Without further ado, get your wish-list ready as we explore the chosen winners for 2020.
Arguably the most anticipated of the categories is Fiction, and with twenty nominees this was no easy fight for the title (indeed, there were a mere five votes between first and second place!). However, only one could come out on top as crowd-favourite, and that was Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library. Described by voters as ‘sci-fi dancing with fantasy’, the novel explores a library which holds infinite books detailing the story of every possible reality. Through the protagonist’s inner conflict, Haig encourages the reader to question carefully the decisions they make based on what is truly fulfilling in life.
The Non-Fiction category brings an interesting reflection on reader habits and preferences. With the four of the top five books exploring social issues such as racism and sexism, we see a move away from the non-fiction trend in self-help books and into a desire to help others with serious societal issues in the larger world. Coming in first place was Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, a remix of Kendi’s 2016 novel Stamped from the Beginning which has been updated and now made remarkably accessible for younger audiences to discuss race.
Unsurprisingly, Sarah J Maas’ House of Earth and Blood (the first book in the Crescent City series) was crowned the winner for the Fantasy category. Despite receiving mixed reviews, the novel really captured the hearts of many as it claimed first place. The #1 New York bestseller takes its readers into a world of fantasy as the two protagonists join forces to fight a dark power that threatens their world. However, whilst doing so they discover a ‘blazing passion’ between themselves. In one review, a reader described her experience with the novel: ‘‘Sarah J. Maas took the modern day world, folklore, myths and every story told to us at bedtime and blended them in a way that only she can.’ Therefore, there is no doubt why Maas’ latest novel, only published less than a year ago, received the most votes.
Claiming first place in the poetry category was Margaret Atwood’s Dearly: New Poems. The author of the well-known novel The Handmaid's Tale compiled an ensemble of poems which also happens to be her first collection of poetry in more than a decade. Described as a ‘sustained twinkle in Atwood’s ever-observant eyes,’ the poetry talks about absences and endings, ageing and retrospection, but also about gifts and renewals. The poems are known to bring together many of Atwood’s most recognisable and celebrated themes. Despite having written her last collection of poetry years ago and being up against authors such as Lana Del Ray and Rupi Kaur, it is evident Atwood still has a spark in her writing.
Illustrating the wonderfully diverse and eclectic Goodreads community, this year’s Goodreads Choice award winners have clearly not disappointed. Whether your fancy lies within the world of mystery, in a horror-filled narrative or in the beauty of a graphic novel, the list of winners and nominees has something for everyone.
Setting a new precedent in the world of literary awards, Goodreads gives its community of readers a voice to champion the peoples’ favourite books. Often disillusioned by some of the bigger awards, many would agree that the choice awards give back ownership of our community – to us, the readers. Regardless of your age and taste, it offers a collection of both bestsellers and more niche works favoured within smaller genres. This is while also managing to truly reflect wider sentiments within society, not bound by the notion of ‘literary’ works and the ‘critics favourite’.