Best of List are starting to come out now. I like some more then others, in the end it comes down to personal opinion. Yesterday, I said its "Thanksgiving, no computer". I did last half the day before I logged on. At NPR, YA author Gayle Forman lists her favorite YA reads of the year. At first glance I didn't like this list. After sleeping on it, I liked it even less.
I am just going to go ahead and say it, its too White. If this list was on Forman's personal blog, I still wouldn't like it, however everyone would know its her personal opinion. Under the title of Oh, To Be Young: The Year's Best Teen Reads. It has much more influence on buyers. Some customers treat NPR suggestions like gospel, especially best of list.
I've read two of these titles and thought both were over hyped. Overall, I was not impressed by this list. If I was going to do a YA best of list with only White female authors it would be
Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe
Heist Society by Ally Carter
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
I would never make such a list. If I did I would call it what it was Favorite Teen Reads by White Female Authors. Chances are great 6 of the lets say 30 people who read this ( it's a holiday weekend) aren't going to like one or more of my five. A few more will love Forman's five picks. That's the great thing about personal opinions-,we are all allowed to have them.
Though, when someone's opinion will influence many there's a social responsibility that comes with that. I don't want a rainbow coalition or a United Nations best of list. However a broader selection of gender and race would be nice, and should be expected when the list is featured on a site like NPR.
I've referenced the title of this best of list, at least twice. So, I don't want to put this out in the world without saying I know NPR probably selected it, not Forman. To that end, NPR should take more care in choosing the title for this feature in the future. "My Favorite Teen Reads" would be more appropriate.
NPR should consider having more then one person submit their favorite YA reads of the year. I think this will allow for more inclusiveness. It would put less pressure on the submitters, knowing their five aren't the only five. It will also let readers know "best of" is relative.
I am going to end with two question.
Do you notice when Best of Lists feature authors/ protagonists of one race, one gender or all are straight?
If you do, does it matter?
I hope no thinks this NPR list is just one of many and this doesn't matter. One homogenous list can quickly turn into more. In April I did a post at Color Online called Would We Forget? I linked to four best of list. There were only nine female authors of color featured.