#libfaves15 and the “Best Books” phenomenon

At the end of the year there are a lot of “best Books of” lists (and others of course), a chance for people to catch up on titles that they might have missed during the year. This seems to be a time when people want to show how smart they are, how many critically acclaimed books that they can mention in a post. But, no one should feel bad about not reading enough, or not enjoying the books that others are reading.

Or, like with movie lists, try and make sure that the list writer’s tastes match the reader’s tastes. Because I’ve known for years that what I like in a movie has very little to do with what a newspaper film critic enjoys in a movie.

There was an excellent tweet that I came across when working on gathering a list of all the books published in 2015 that I’ve read and enjoyed this year (spoiler, I only managed 5).


This reminder should bring you back to Raganathan’s 5 Laws of library science or more specifically the 2nd and 3rd laws.

“Every reader his/her book” and “Every book its reader”

Don’t judge a person by their request, don’t tell them that it is a “bad” book, and it isn’t your job to educate someone on better reading.

People read for different reasons. From entertainment, escapism, to learn, to be able to participate in conversations with their peers. People also read for different reasons at different times. I don’t work with Readers Advisory all that much and even I have had countless interactions with people sheepishly confessing, “well I’m going to be travelling so I want something a bit lighter to read”, like I might judge them on their favourite author or genre. (On the flip side there are also the super explicit requests for “cozy mysteries about female detectives by british authors, no violence, no bad language, no sex”).

Sometimes you start books, but can’t finish them until you are in the right headspace. Sometimes you just start and never finish a book.

And this is why I try and participate in projects like #libfaves15 , in my own small way, I can inject some non-typical titles into the “Best Books” arena, so that those who don’t see their reading tastes reflected, can see a bit of diversity. Scrolling through the list now I see graphic novels, romances, and lots of fantasy in additional to the expected favourites. Efforts like this help illustrate how diverse our reading habits and tastes are.