Does an award negatively affect a book?

cattonResearch has found  that a book read after winning a prestigious award will likely be judged more negatively than if it’s read in its pre-award days.

“The Paradox of Publicity: How Awards Can Negatively Affect the Evaluation of Quality,” is to be published in the March issue of Administrative Science Quarterly. Researchers Amanda Sharkey and colleague Balázs Kovács of the University of Lugano analysed thousands of reader reviews of 32 pairs of . One book in each pair had won an award – like the Booker Prize, National Book Award or PEN/Faulkner Award – while the other book had been nominated but hadn’t won.

“We found that winning a prestigious prize in the literary world seems to go hand-in-hand with a particularly sharp reduction in ratings of perceived quality,” Sharkey says.

The researchers theorize that a book’s audience increases considerably after an award is announced, as do the diversity and personal tastes of readers. Therefore, a larger sampling of readers is drawn to a prize-winning book, not because of any intrinsic personal interest in the book, but because it has an award attached to it.

To test this theory, Sharkey and Kovács created “predicted” ratings for each book based on the readers’ past ratings of books in the same genre. They then studied the how a book’s predicted ratings change after an award is announced by comparing earlier predicted ratings to post-announcement predicted ratings.

They found that before an award is announced, the predicted ratings of a book about to win are equivalent to the ratings of a book about to lose. But after an award is announced, that shifts and award-winning books have lower predicted ratings than books that don’t win.

“This is direct evidence that prizewinning books tend to attract new readers who wouldn’t normally read and like this particular type of book,” Sharkey says.

These results are likely applicable to other media, including film, according to the researchers. “The types of movies that win Oscars may be very different from the types of movies we watch and like during the nine months of the year when it’s not awards season,” says Sharkey.
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National Book Awards – some American literature

image-medium (45)The National Book Awards is run by the National Book Foundation in the USA. The Fiction, Non Fiction, Young People’s and Poetry awards have been announced!

The fiction winner is the Good Lord Bird by James McBride. We don’t have all these in stock (links when we do have them) but reserve them if there are ones you’d like to read


Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers  Interview >

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland  – Interview >

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)

George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House) – Interview >


  • Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin – Interview >
  • Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields– Interview >
  • Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832– Interview >
  • Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief – Interview >

POETRY WINNER: Mary Szybist, Incarnadine: Poems (Graywolf Press) – Interview >


  • Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Interview >
  • Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Alfred A. Knopf) – Interview >
  • Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin Poets/Penguin Group USA) – Interview >
  • Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press) – Interview >

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE WINNER: Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck – Interview >


What’s on the Waterstone’s Book of the Year list?

beaThis year’s Waterstone’s shortlist – the winner will be announced on Tuesday 3rd December, includes a wide variety of writing talent and includes  début graphic novelist Stephen Collins who finds himself head-to-head with more well known literary figures Kate Atkinson and Julian Barnes, all competing for the title of Waterstone’s Book of the Year 2013.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, is a critically acclaimed pencil-drawn fairytale for adults, The other contenders are in it for – Kate Atkinson, her novel Life After Lifewhose protagonist has the opportunity to live her life again and again in a bid to get it right. Julain Barnes former Man Booker Prize-winner whose Levels of Life, is a blend of essay, fiction and memoir dealing with the death of his beloved wife, and it represents his most personal work to date.

Two of the books in contention are written by authors from overseas: Mapsan illustrated map of the world by Polish husband-and-wife team Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński; and the 1965 novel Stoner, by the late American author John Williams. This had been one of the most talked about books of the year, with Ian McEwan, Bret Easton Ellis and Tom Hanks amongst its high-profile admirers .

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life, Nina Stibbe’s completes the shortlist. This is a ‘charming collection of letters home to her sister, describing her trials and triumphs as a working-class nanny to a well-heeled London family’.

Waterstones booksellers across the country nominated the book they thought deserved the title of Book of the Year. They were asked to choose a book that stood out in its field, and that would speak to the company’s core customers – those people who love reading and that love books.

‘We have enjoyed another year of extraordinary publishing with our booksellers championing a great array of titles.” said Waterstones Managing Director James Daunt. “As you would expect, they have selected an eclectic and surprising shortlist for our Book of the Year, all fabulous books that are distinctively inspiring and which I am sure will provoke as much passionate interest from our customers as they already have from our booksellers.’


Roald Dahl Funny Prize shortlist announced

image-medium (20)Reviews and covers on Leeds Reads Pinterest

The author  Philip Ardagh,has been shortlisted for the 2013 Roald Dahl Funny Prize in the books for children aged 7-14 category.

The Grunts All At Sea, which is llustrated by Axel Scheffler, is one of the books in his new series about a family called The Grunts

It’s one of the books in his new series about a family called The Grunts. He’s a previous winner is up against five other books.

The other award is books for children aged six and under, and both awards carry a prize of £2,500.

Schools across the UK are involved in the judging process and  children’s votes are combined with the panel’s vote. The panel includes illustrator Sarah McIntyre and the chair is  Michael Rosen . Michael created the prize in 2008 with Booktrust and the Literary Estate of Roald Dahl.

The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under (We’re ordering these)

• Weasels by Elys Dolan (Nosy Crow)

• Spaghetti With the Yeti by Adam and Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Lee Wildish (Egmont)

• Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson (Nosy Crow)

• Monkey Nut by Simon Rickerty (Simon and Schuster)

 Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo by Amy Sparkes, illustrated by Sara Oglivie (Red Fox, Random House Children’s Books)

 Noisy Bottoms by Sam Taplin, illustrated by Mark Chambers (Usborne)

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize In Literature

image-medium (13)Congratulations to Alice Munro, the Canadian author who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, which the Swedish Academy announced this (Thursday)  morning. She is deemed to be “master of the contemporary short story,” and if you haven’t read any of her stories we have lots in stock or listen to ‘Dear Life’ one of her latest.

The Nobel committee press release says that the Canadian author’s “texts often feature depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning.”

In an interview, academy Permanent Secretary Peter Englund celebrated Munro’s focus on a small Canadian landscape of “broad rivers and small towns,” adding that “she has everything she needs in this small patch of earth.”

Alice Munro is 82 and recently announced that she likely will give up writing: “Not that I didn’t love writing, but I think you do get to a stage where you sort of think about your life in a different way. And perhaps, when you’re my age, you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be.”

Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

The Booker Prize 2013The shortlist for the Booker prize has been announced today. The Man Booker is recognised as the world’s most prestigious prize for fiction and winning the prize can change an author’s and their publisher’s fortunes. Following the announcement of the longlist back in July the panel of five judges have been reading and re-reading the books to come up with the following shortlist of six books.

The overall winning book will be announced on the 15th October and the lucky winning author will receive a cheque for £50,000. All of the shortlisted authors receive £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book.

The shortlist:-
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto)
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Granta)
Harvest by Jim Crace (Picador)
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin (Penguin)

All the books are available in Leeds Libraries apart from the Jhumpa Lahiri title and we will get this in as soon as possible. Follow the links on the book titles to reserve a copy.

I personally am quite excited by the books this year and I am looking forward to getting started. I think first on my list will be the Ruth Ozeki book, a modern story set in Tokyo.

Howard Jacobson amuses the judges

image-mediumThe 14th Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize –  which includes a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig to be called after the novel, champagne and a complete collection of PG Wodehouse works – has been won for the second time by Howard Jacobson.

Zoo Time (Bloomsbury) is about novelist Guy Ableman who is in thrall to his vivacious wife Vanessa. The trouble is, he is no less in thrall to her alluring mother, Poppy. His publisher has committed suicide and his agent is in hiding. In flight from personal disappointment and universal despair, Guy wonders if it’s time to take his love for Poppy to another level

Jacobson previously won the prize, which rewards comic novels, in 2000 with his novel The Mighty Walzer. In 2007 he was shortlisted for the prize with Kalooki Nights.

This year’s judges were Radio 4  Today’s James Naughtie, publisher David Campbell from Everyman’s Library and Hay Festival director Peter Florence.