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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Alex Awards 2014

Mark posted the Alex Award winners on Monday, but what would AB4T be without some post-game celebrating?

First, we need to make sure everyone is aware of the official nominations list. We reviewed most of these, but not all. My gut reaction to this list is that it is very brave. And by that I mean that it includes several titles that are best suited to the oldest age range of what is considered “teen.” In fact, I might even make an argument that it reads like a New Adult list more than a list of adult books that make good crossover for teen readers. (Yes, I expect some reaction to that statement!) It is also really, wonderfully diverse and shows an admirable open-mindedness toward teens and their interests.

Second, let’s do our annual tally of the Booklist Editors’ Choice, AB4T Best and Alex Awards lists. Where do the lists intersect?

All three lists
Golden Boy
Help for the Haunted

Two lists
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Reconstructing Amelia
The Sea of Tranquility
The Universe Versus Alex Woods

Finally, I would  like to point everyone to the most wonderful Ron Charles, fiction editor at the Washington Post, who has his ear to the ground when it comes to adult books with teen appeal. Charles did a great service by publishing a reaction from Mark Slouka to his Brewster win in the Washington Post Style blog yesterday. He included the entire Alex list and tweeted about it more than once.

This is just the sort of publicity the Alex needs. It is discouraging to members of the committee to sit in the ALA Youth Media Awards and watch their Award winners open the show with little to no fanfare. I will never understand this tradition, but YALSA is unwilling to consider a change. To add insult to injury this week, Publishers Weekly posted an article about Monday’s winners and left out the Alex Awards entirely. I think this whole attitude does a disservice to teen readers and the librarians who serve them.

Now I’m going to leap off my soapbox and congratulate the Alex Awards committee on their most excellent work. Adult books are long. It’s a lot (A LOT) of reading, discussing, nominating, re-reading, discussing, voting. All very exciting, but it tends to take over real life for a year. I hope you all had a wonderful time and feel satisfied by a job very well done.


Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. I am beyond thrilled that everyone has been supporting this list and promoting it (Thank you, Ron Charles) and is taking a look at the official nominations/ vetted list. There were some hard decisions to make and I couldn’t be prouder of the 2014 Alex Award Committee. – Danielle, 2014 Alex Award Chair

    • Great job, Danielle. I too am glad to see the nomination list and glad you considered titles by people of color – maybe more than other years? Anyway, great job!

  2. Thank you, Angela! YALSA’s explanation for not including the Alex Awards in the regular YALSA program at the YMAs make no sense and never has. Talk about the Red Headed Stepchild of the awards! Given the interest and buzz the Alex Awards generate, I really hope others add their voice to the chorus too. The Committee works so hard all year to create a terrific list and vetted nomination list and they should get the credit they deserve. At least YALSA is finally include the Alex Awards Committee in getting their picture taken with the other committee prior to the YMAs. They’ve only been included in the past few years (-5).

  3. John Sexton says:

    I think the main reason that the ALEX remains a sidenote at the YMAs has to do with the (natural) relationship between ALSC and YALSA and Children’s Publishers. The adult side of the publishing world generally operates on a much different level of integration with libraries and has been slow to appreciate the marketing aspect of awards such as ALEX. I have been vexed to see ALEX remain marginalized at the events while newer awards like Morris, NF, Stonewall are highlighted. But each of those awards recognizes books from the Children’s side of the publishing house. I also suspect ALSC has felt a bit beset by YALSA’s profusion of awards in recent years. By my count, the YMAs have 11 teen categories to 5 for children, and 4 that include both teen and children. Is it time for YALSA to have its own Teen Media Awards? Then maybe ALEX can get a better shout out!

  4. Thanks for weighing in too, John. You bring up some good points.

    Aren’t these awards supposed to be a tool for librarians? Does your average school librarian care how a publisher categorizes a book if they can use a YALSA award list as a guide for readers advisory and collection development? When I was on the Alex Committee we gave some serious thought and brainstormed ideas about how to raise the profile of the Award. I think and hope efforts of Committee members and those of us who love this award should continue.