I spent much of the day yesterday cleaning my office. I hadn’t planned to do it, but realized it was a necessary to take me from the end of one project to the beginning of another. BFYA is done!
That could have easily been a two year commitment but I just couldn’t do it for another year because I simply didn’t have the time. In the past year, each of the 15 members of the committee read 200+ books. We read some books we didn’t care for and still had to report on them to the committee and we read others that we did like and recommended them, thus requiring that the entire committee had to read them.
For the past few months, I was home reading most evenings and every weekend. I was so relieved this past weekend with not having to read another book that by time Sunday rolled around, it felt like I was having a three day weekend.
I enjoyed talking literature with committee members. I wish we had more online discussions but when we met at ALA and ALA midwinter, our exchanges were productive. Most of the committee’s work is quite transparent, our meetings are open to the public, but we were asked not to review books under consideration during the year. I’ve stated that my interest in being on the committee stemmed from wanting to see a more diverse representation on the list but I do have to say that I am not the only committee member who recommended books by authors of color and not all the books I recommended were written by authors of color. Did I recommend your book? I’ll never tell!
I like seeing lists of best books for teens that are diverse in every sense of the word if it is truly going to be the best.
I learned a lot being on this committee. I think I’ve admitted here before that my background is not in literature and this gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about YA lit! I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the women on the committee. We were a committee of 15 females and I was the only person of color. We came with such different backgrounds and interests that we couldn’t help but create a diverse list.
I keep learning more and more about what stalls the flow of books by people of color. There are so many things that seem specific to publishing, but really they’re not. They’re replicated throughout our society. Still in 2014, they’re pervasive enough to drive a crazy girl sane. We just can’t give up and we can’t burrow in.
So how diverse is this list?
31 were written by or with male authors.
23 were placed outside the US and/or written by non US authors.
14 were written by a person of color or had a person of color as a main character.
10 featured characters who are either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
10 are clearly historical fiction.
8 featured characters who were differently-abled.
2 feature music.
1 features sports.
I considered counting the number that are speculative fiction, but there are so many that blur the line! There are books that are mystical, magical, mysterious, monstrous and those that are so painful that they will bring you to tears.
So, my office is clean. BYFA books are on their way to high school libraries in Indiana. And, I’m digging into writing for tenure.