Reading for the Cybils

So, I’m a round 2 judge for the Cybils is YA Science Fiction and Fantasy. The time is approaching for the Round 1 Judges to reveal their short lists and the Round 2 judges to start reading to pick a finalist. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own prep for my part of the Cybils and thought I’d share a bit on my own thought processes (which might be boring, you have been warned).

I was thrilled to be chosen as a round two judge because the idea of reading every nominee (146 in my category) was completely overwhelming and I knew I would buckle under the load. But, starting January 1 I’ll have 5 to 7 books to read from the short list and a firm deadline by which to finish them all (and of course to help pick a winner). To try and make things easier I thought I’d read ahead which has led to several false starts with my Cybils reading.

First, I completely panicked when I saw there were 146 nominees and realized I had read fewer than ten of them back in October. Then I saw that some of them weren’t available from my extremely large library system, also worrisome. Somehow these facts translated to my needing to acquire every Cybils nominee to have just in case it was shortlisted. Then when I wound up with fifty books surrounding my desk at work I realized that wasn’t going to work.

Next I thought I’d try to catch up on all of the series books in the Cybils so I wouldn’t have to read out of order. But again, that was completely overwhelming (although Shiver was great and a read I’d been putting off for too long). That stopped when I lost momentum.

Lately I’ve been reading through books on the Cybils nomination list that are already on my own to read list and books that I’ve heard a lot about and think could be contenders. So far that’s been working out. I still have a ton of books in my locker at work that will need to be returned once the short list is announced and I actually know what I need to read.

The other catch is that once the short list is released, as a round 2 judge picking the winner, I can’t review any short list titles until after the winner is revealed. Since this blog operates with a buffer of pre-scheduled posts what that means is once my December reviews are all queued up (now, basically) I need shift from reading Cybils books to reading other titles (like items I’ve received for review) so I will have reviews up in January.

Anyway it’s been interesting because much as I love some sci-fi/fantasy action, I’ve realized sometimes I really do need a regular realistic book. It will also be interesting to see if all of my “pre-reading” comes to naught and the short list is a complete surprise. I’ll keep you all posted ;)