I’ve reached the quarter-century mark in my Cybils reads (aka 25 books) and thought it might be a good time to check-in.
Some fun stats: in the three weeks since nominations have opened (and subsequently closed), 147 eligible titles were nominated in the Young Adult Fiction category (thank you for nominating!). As I mentioned, I’ve read 25, which is about 5 short of where I’d like to be, but overall I’m happy with my pace. (This is starting to sound like one of my old sports reports…) Nine books I read pre-Cybils, so I’ve read 16 in three weeks. I’m hovering somewhere around 7,500 read pages total.
Discussions are starting to gear up as more and more panelists read more and more books. Which, honestly, is one of the best parts of this whole experience.
I had major insomnia last night and I couldn’t help thinking about the Cybils process and what sets it apart from just normal reading and discussion/reviews throughout the year. And I started using this crazy comparison to a museum. (This is the part of the post where things get a bit weird. Feel free to skip down below.)
So, the Cybils process is like walking into an uncurated museum of art. There are a bunch of works of art on the wall with no real guiding theme grouping the art together. As panelists, we get a huge list of books and then we just start reading them. At the moment, I’m reading based solely on what I have access to and when. This means there’s no order of what’s following what, how things will compliment each other, etc.
Which ALSO means books can seem better or worse depending on what you read immediately before or after the book. It can be like having a Pop Art piece next to an Impressionist and the Pop Art looks gaudy or the Impression piece looks pale when put right next to each other. Or you can have a Big, Huge Dynamic piece that’s epic in scale next to a postcard-size portrait that’s rich in details and it can seem nearly impossible on how you compare the two.
But good things also come from this Museum of Random Placement: you start to see odd connections and similarities that you wouldn’t see between things. Like, you read two books and discover a common oddity (i.e. both books have working in a Taco Bell) that you never would have realized if you read one in January and one in December and the books were so different you never would have thought about one regarding the other anyway.
It’s a really weird, interesting and unique way to look at books (and presumably art). And it can be hard comparing the bold with the quiet and the detailed with the grand. And you could read one book and hate it because it’s the sixth Super Sad Book you’ve read in a row and you really, really are just Over Them. And normally, with out Super Sad Books #1-5, you would have loved #6.
This is where the panelists come in – they are reading from the exact same list of public-nominated, eligible titles (aka viewing the same works of Random, Uncurated Art), but reading them, likely, in a different order and with a different perspective (aka the art has been rearranged – still with no theme). So when I look/read something that I have opinions about, they can – like DOCENTS – bring intelligent thoughts to the conversation, which usually, in some way, changes how I think about a book. Or how it was framed (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED) by the books I read before it. Etc. Etc. Etc. And while you can get this from reviews, to have a back and forth about the books (ENGAGEMENT), it’s easier to step away from the things that are preventing you from judging a book independently from the others.
To sum up this incredibly lengthy and wandering simile: Serving as a panelist on Cybils is like going into a Museum of Random and In No Order Paintings, trying to compare works of art even though they are vastly different and not always in a pleasing order that will benefit all pieces and you are forced to rely on your fellow docents (aka panelists) to help you make sense of the chaos. Amazing, awesome chaos. But chaos, nonetheless.
So, basically, (and this is where you want to join back in People Who Understandably Skipped That Craziness Above) Cybils are going well. I probably email my fellow panelists far too often. And use too many exclamation marks. And run-on sentences. And fragments.
But, in general, good. And we’ve only just started!*
Hope all is well, fellow readers (and homework helper seekers). Read something wonderful today.**
*meaning there are only MOAR exclamation marks to come!!!!!!!I!I!I!II!I!I!I!I!I
**That was totally cheesy. But, as with the exclamation marks, also how I roll.