Popular Paperbacks is a YALSA Selection Committee that in my humble opinion needs a better name to reflect just how awesome it is.
Because when I heard this name, at first, I thought, OK, it’s a list about popular titles…in paperback.
Well, that is only half the answer. The more important half of the answer it that the committee puts together themed booklists: the criteria is the books must meet the theme, popularity is important rather than literary merit, and the books must be available in paperback. Full policies and procedures are at the YALSA website.
So, in other words, this is a fantastic resource for librarians who are putting together displays or who run book clubs that discuss certain themes; or, for collection development, if they find one area of their collection on the thin side. Part of the fun of the lists is seeing just how diverse a list on one theme can be.
The most recent lists, with an annotation from the Popular Paperbacks Committee: Thrillers & Killers : May cause anxiety. . . don’t read at home alone; What’s Cooking? Tasty reads to fill your belly and warm your soul; What If…: It’s the end of the world as we know it; Zombies, Werewolves, and Things with Wings: Because vampires suck!
Take a closer look at What’s Cooking?: there are fiction titles, manga, nonfiction, and paranormal all around the “tasty reads” them.
The website has past lists going back to 1997.
Keep on eye on the YALSA Blog; the committee will announce what the selected themes are for the upcoming year. Anyone can nominate a title.
EDITED TO ADD:
Next year’s Popular Paperback Lists are: Adventure Seekers: Discover your destiny, accept the challenge; tights and cape not required; Forbidden Romance: Oh so wrong, but oh so right; Get Your Geek On: They could rule your world and Sticks & Stones: From cyberbullying to cold shoulders, it all hurts.
Anyone can nominate titles; the committee reads the titles, discusses what exactly the list themes mean (and don’t mean), and then creates annotated lists. (In other words…when you’re doing a official organization, that will represent that group, this is a great model.)