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It’s Time To Vote In The 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards

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Jamie Canaves

Contributing Editor

Jamie Canavés is the Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator and Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter writer–in case you’re wondering what you do with a Liberal Arts degree. She’s never met a beach she didn’t like, always says yes to dessert, loves ‘80s nostalgia, all forms of entertainment, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. You can definitely talk books with her on Litsy and Goodreads. Depending on social media’s stability maybe also Twitter and Bluesky.

If you look forward to the end of the year when you get to not only shout about your favorite books but also actually cast a vote and root for them to win, your time has come: the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards are open for voting! There are seventeen genres/categories with 20 nominees each. Yay for all the nominees, but for many of these genres, it’s gonna be super tough to narrow down a favorite to vote from all the favorite options.

But first, how does this work?

The 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards have just opened which means we’re in round one: Between November 16 and November 28, you can vote for one book from each genre/category. There are a lot of genre/categories (17!) which include YA, middle grade, comic book, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, SFF, romance, mystery, and more. The eligibility and how they selected the first round nominees can be found under Voting Schedule > Rules & Eligibility. Goodreads analyzes statistics from the millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on site to nominate 20 books in each category. Opening round official nominees must have an average rating of 3.50 or higher at the time of launch.” The final round of voting will be November 30- December 5 and the winner will then be announced on December 9.

Books published between November 17, 2021 and November 15, 2022, will be eligible for the 2022 awards.

battle royal cover

However, if you don’t see your favorite book in the list and were planning to write-in your nomination, as we’ve done on previous years, that option doesn’t appear to exist anymore.

Take the Best Romance nominees for example. There are a lot of favorite authors and 2021 titles on this list (Yay! And ha-ha good luck picking between so many favorites.) You’ll also notice that the illustrated romance cover trend is strong! But where are the historical romances? Mass market? Unfortunately, if Lucy Parker’s Battle Royal or Alexis Hall’s Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake were your favorites this year, which didn’t make the nominees, you can’t put in a write-in vote for them.

Arsenic and Adobo cover

Back in 2016 I wrote about the problem with the Goodreads Choice Awards, specifically the lack of authors of color in the mystery & thriller category, and I noted the option for write-in and that there were 15 nominees. So it looks like we’ve gone up to 20 nominees to start with this year’s Best Mystery & Thrillers but lost the write-in votes option. This year there are authors of color to start with: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris; Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead; Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala; Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby. Is that why they eliminated the write-in, because they think it’s no longer needed to champion authors of color? What about indie authors? Was it too much work to tally the write-ins? I suspect many voters will be asking these question.

Something else that continues to be missing from the awards is a category for nonfiction for young readers.

And then there’s the good problem of categories having so many favorite books how can you ever choose just one to vote for? I immediately spotted many of my favorite reads this year including Justina Ireland’s Ophie’s Ghost, Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A For Aunties, and Talia Hibbert’s Act Your Age, Eve Brown–just to name a few.

Mediocre cover

2021 has been a standing ovation type of year for nonfiction/memoir titles, and the Best Nonfiction nominees include many favorites: A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib; Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo; The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee; Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green; The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein; Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach–let me just stop there before I list all the nominees.

Hola Papi cover image

Best Memoir & Autobiography is just as hard with exceptional reads like Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner; ¡Hola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer; Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford, to name a few. And there would certainly be many write-ins if it was still allowed including Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark by Cassandra Peterson.

Best Young Adult Fiction also has great voices nominated including Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo; Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé; The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4) by Maureen Johnson; The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe; Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley; Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar–and once again I’ll stop before listing the whole thing.

It’s amazing to see so many incredible voices nominated (How can I possibly decide between some of these amazing books?!) and if you like to take the time to vote be sure to check out all the categories!

And if you’ve never dipped your toe in poetry, the Best Poetry category is a hell of a great place to start.