(Housekeeping note: we are still compiling the honor book votes, so look for that post shortly.)
We’re going to make some predictions for tomorrow. They will, doubtless, be wrong: never has there ever been a
cat so clever committee that didn’t surprise, well, everyone.
But we’re not just wildly guessing here either. Or, not entirely, anyway.
You may, perhaps, be thinking, Huh, didn’t they just do top 5s the other day? How is this different? The other day, what we listed were our individual picks. This time, we (in the Royal sense; today we’re speaking as a single blogging entity) are actually trying to anticipate the RealCommittee’s picks.
The RealCommittee process, as we’ve said before, is unique to each year, since every member brings their own sensibilities, preferences, and baggage with them. This means that it’s almost impossible to truly predict what a committee will select, because all of those elements that make up 9 individuals meld into something that has a personality of its own. In the end, there are a lot of excellent books that could wear the gold and silver this year, so the final decision can have a faint whiff of the arbitrary to those outside the committee — why this one and not that one, we ask? But for everyone sitting in that room, making the decision, the reason are many and completely clear.
So while we’ve been reading and discussing and reviewing in the context of the award all year, and we’d like to think that we have a not insignificant sense of the field, we’re bringing our own baggage to this prediction list, which means we aren’t just guessing — but we might still be way off base.
More caveats, explanations, &tc.:
We have no insider information (although we’re tickled at the idea of insider trading of award info, and wondering why no one has made a spoof film about the librarian underworld where these trades would presumably occur).
We’re handicapped by not knowing what books the RealCommittee has actually read — we feel confident that some committee member or other has read every book we’ve covered, but we also suspect the committee as a whole has read far more widely than we have (there are 9 of them, after all), so we might have skipped something that turns out to be among the best of the year.
(In fact, as we write this, we have in our respective homes piles of unread, wonderful 2012 titles that we just never quite got to. Those books are all laughing at us, and, we are convinced, just waiting to be named tomorrow morning to our everlasting chagrin. Crystal ballin’ is hard, yo.)
But we took a look at what we thought were the year’s best, drawing from our own reading and also the lively conversations here are elsewhere. We cross-referenced that against the various year-end lists, particularly the trade lists. We considered how these books might have fared in our own committee years, trying to think of the kinds of issues that might come up; we looked at things like the ways in which two books that are too similar pretty much never both make the list, because it’s one thing to say a Honeycrisp apple and a Pink Lady are both perfection on a core, but it’s harder to make a list of just Honeycrisps, because when you put them together one will be a little bit better and you’ll only want to recognize the very best one.
(Ok, that isn’t perfect, but go with it. Please.)
We’re not guessing a winner and honor books separately, just a slate of 5 books we think are most likely to get named Monday, in order from most to least likely.
- Code Name Verity
- No Crystal Stair
- The Brides of Rollrock Island
- The Fault in Our Stars
This might seem like cheating, or at least hedging our bets, but we are officially predicting a wildcard. As we tried to pick one last title, we were going in circles, and the whole list started feeling arbitrary. We have our personal favorites, of course (Seraphina, Keeping the Castle, Railsea, XXX). But as a consensus title? Nothing. The four we listed may not be the books we liked best, but we feel confident that they are really brilliant and admirable and the top of the top to many people. But there was no fifth book we thought had the same kind of universal support, so it was either go to 10 books or stop at 4.
So we figured we’d just call it a wild card, and open it up to you all. Any suggestions for that final slot? Got a favorite dark horse no one else is really talking about? Have your own prediction slate you’d like to record in the comments for posterity and/or shame tomorrow? The clock is ticking!