We Need Big Award Shows for Books

Published on 5/12/2021

Let me just start by saying that I know there are awards for books. There’s the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker Prize, Costa Book Awards, and many more. But even though we have these literary awards, they would never be glammed up in the manner that film awards are. You miss the hype leading up to the event, the promotion and the cut-throat competition. You also miss the various scope of awards. A film can be awarded for acting, screenwriting, costume, lighting, cinematography, and so much more. Whilst a book is usually awarded within its genre and nothing else. We spend so much longer reading a book than watching a film, so why is the same care not provided to the intricate aspects of a book? It would be hard enough to pick a ‘better’ book given the subjectivity in writing and story, let alone if you can’t compare specific aspects such as the power of a character or plot lines.

Therefore, I propose that we create a big, bold award show for books—one to rival the Oscars or Grammys. Authors will arrive in all of their glory, and there will be dozens of awards handed out. And for these awards, I have a few possibilities in mind...

Photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash. Edited by the author on Canva.

Best character

There are nominations for best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress at film awards. This is because they want to acknowledge the various roles that make up a film. Someone could do an incredible performance in a movie that overall isn’t strong enough to win the best picture. I think the same can happen with books. You can read a book that wasn’t nominated, but had characters within that definitely could have been. The character that feels as close to you as a best friend or leaves the pages firmly imprinted in your mind. The character that represents a population that hasn’t had the voice it deserves, or the one that was painted so realistically in their dialogue and actions. I think there should be a separate category for supporting characters, as these can often play such an integral role in a book, despite not being the narrator or centre of the action.

Best antagonist

I have always preferred the antagonists in stories. This may be indicative of my unruly psyche, but it’s true. When all the girls loved Gabriella in High School Musical, I was firmly on Team Sharpay and feverishly hoping she would get everything she wanted. Antagonists are often bold and unafraid; they’re powerful and determined. I’m not saying that their actions can be excused, but rather that they’re fascinating characters to discover. I think this would be acknowledged at our awards, as we would recognise the power of a well-written antagonist.

Best plot development

There are plots that keep you on the edge of your seat; there are plots that flow so naturally you’re surprised that you didn’t think of them yourself; there are plots that comfort you as well as those that challenge you. The tricky part of this category is deciding which one stands out the most and recognising it for this achievement. The hard part of writing is not coming up with incredible plots, but rather putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, and writing the story that accompanies it; spending hour after hour dedicated to this plot and doing it justice.

Best plot twist

We both love and hate a good plot twist. Everything is going according to plan, and sometimes you’re wary of this, but other times you’re so lulled by the tranquillity that you don’t see it coming. A plot twist can transform all of the pages you read and make you see them so differently the second time through. It can make you flick back to specific pages or events and reread them with this fresh perspective, with the final puzzle piece. Writers who pull off a good plot twist deserve to be celebrated for it and recognised within this category.

Best cliffhanger

As infuriating as a cliffhanger is for the reader, take a moment to consider how it feels for the writer. They likely know what they’d bring next, and yet they’re taking the restraint required to make the story thrill you further. They’re leaving the characters they’ve grown to love in positions of peril or uncertainty. If it’s within a series, they’re testing your dedication and keeping you hooked. If it’s a book that won’t be followed, they’re giving you the gift of your own ending, choosing where these characters will go. As much as a cliffhanger can boil our blood, we have to respect the audacity of them, and this category will do precisely that.

Most tissues required

I have cried more to books than I ever have to films. I don’t know why that is precisely; perhaps it’s the first-person narration or the fact that you’re inputting emotion because you can’t directly see it. There are books that made me feel broken in the most satisfying way, which released emotion I had pent up and gave it an excuse to be open. I often say that the most incredible thing a writer can do is make you care enough for a character that you cry for them. They’re fictional, composed of only thoughts, and yet you shed real tears for them. This is a sniffly category, but one that I think is necessary. If only to highlight the next sob story that should be placed on your nightstand.

Lifetime Achievement Award

This is a tricky one, as it must be for film awards as well. Because what defines lifetime achievement: is the number of books written, the number sold, or the impact those books had? Sally Rooney’s novel ‘Normal People’ felt the closest to an accurate representation of depression. Yet, Jodi Picoult writes more books than I could keep up with, ensuring I always have possibilities to read. I think many things go into this category, but it would be reserved for the writers who have spent decades giving us the beauty of words. They’re written the books that people reread each Christmas or the ones that brought comfort when someone needed it. They devoted their life, and most likely eyesight, to creating works for us to escape into, and we commend them for it.

Recognising those behind the book

Several categories would be required for everything surrounding the story itself, as a book is more than the pages between covers. If you look at the first draft and the final product, the book can be so different. Scenes that mean the most to you could have been added at an editor’s suggestion or when the agent noticed something was missing. You may pick up a book because of the daring cover and stay for the story. But without that cover, you may have never discovered it. If an editor hadn’t gone through it with a thick red pen, you might have found the story dull or repetitive, perhaps stopping after the first chapter. So many things go into a book, and I’d hope to acknowledge these, such as:

  • Best Editor
  • Best Agent
  • Best Publisher
  • Best Book Design
  • Best Marketing Campaign
  • Best Blurb

These are all just suggestions, of course, as I’m sure so much more goes into a book or even book awards than someone like me can imagine. Consider it instead to be fanfiction for book awards and the possibility that they could gain the same traction that the film industry has. I’d love to know what awards you think are missing or any books and authors you would nominate for a category!

Fleur

Fleur

Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.

Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.

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