We’ve spent the last few weeks reading furiously (in more ways than one at times), and we had some debates behind the scenes, but the Shadow Panel now has a shortlist!
A few of these books were obvious locks—everyone who read them liked them and felt they deserved a spot. Our separate shortlists brought eight of the original thirteen to the table, with five books getting no votes at all. So we confined our discussion to those eight books and began looking at rankings.
It was easy to see how these debates can lead to bland compromise choices if it comes down to a straight vote. The one book on every single list ranked low on all of them. (A couple of jurors hadn’t quite finished the full list.) And some friendly controversy arose when we noted that some people’s favorites were others’ least favorite. In the end, we have a list that’s close to most of our shortlists, but not a perfect match.
Here’s the full list, in alphabetical order, with links to panelists’ published comments about each:
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James: Shelf Love, Bibliographing, Of Books and Bicycles
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg: Shelf Love, Dolce Bellezza, Nonsuch Book, Of Books and Bicycles
Lila by Marilynne Robinson: Shelf Love
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy: Shelf Love, Bibliographing, Nonsuch Book
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy: Shelf Love, Dolce Belezza
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota: Shelf Love
This process was a lot of fun. I got to have some great conversations with other smart readers, and I read a few terrific books I probably wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise. On the whole, the joy of the process outweighed the frustration of the books I’d rather not have spent time on. Would I do it again? No promises. But I wouldn’t rule it out.