AAR Annual Poll Panic Time

WomanHeadacheI had a mild panic attack this week while looking at my calendar for January. There, marked in red, on January 18th, were the words “First day AAR Annual Poll.” Yikes! How could this be? In one month, voting will start. While this is exciting for me as one of AAR’s pollsters, it struck terror for me as a romance reader.

I have voted in every one of AAR’s Annual Polls, and am usually one of the first to vote. Most years, I have used used elaborate record-keeping devices to keep track of my reading, solely to help with my Annual Poll ballot. All that has changed this year.  As we announced earlier, this year the Annual Poll will begin on Monday, January 18, but will last only two weeks, until Sunday, January 31. This leaves almost no time for catch-up reading during the polling period, meaning I really need to have done all of my major 2009 reading by January 18….and there’s my problem.

Due to some personal problems last spring, I pretty much didn’t read any 2009 books from mid-March until mid-May. When I did have time to read, I focused on some of my favorite comfort reads. Since then, I’ve been playing catch-up with reviewing. Now sometimes review books turn out to be great (and I’ll actually be voting for a couple I reviewed this year). But more often that not, it provides me with mediocre reads (can’t vote for them) or downright awful reads (have a few to choose from for my “worst” of 2009).

I’m going to try to do some quick 2009 reading over the next month, in addition to reading my review books. But first, I have to figure out what wonderful books I should select. As a first step, I looked over the books I’ve reviewed, and the two or three good books I’ve squeezed in on my own time. Among those books, I pretty much have the best contemporary romance, series romance, paranormal romance, and best chick lit book covered, as well as some pretty good ideas for romantic suspense.

Things completely fall apart, with historical romances, both those set in the U.K. and elsewhere. Hard as it is to believe, I haven’t read a single 2009 historical romance this year. Thanks to the AAR power search, I now have a listing of all of the 2009 European historical romances that received a grade of A or A- here. I’m planning to reread the reviews of each of them, to figure out which one or two seem most likely to appeal to me.

I also tweeted about my predicament, and got some recommendations (most appear on the AAR DIK list) from people on Twitter. Finally, I’ve been lurking more than usual on the AAR Forums to see what you — the readers — are saying about some of your favorite 2009 books.

So, fingers crossed, I’ll be able to squeeze in a few excellent historical romances between now and January 18.

How about you? Are you planning on doing any reading over the next month to get ready for the Annual Poll? What strategies — if any — do you use, to prepare your Annual Poll ballot? And finally, are there any other strategies you can suggest I use to pick a few “good books” to read over the next month?

- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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14 Responses to AAR Annual Poll Panic Time

  1. Tee says:

    First of all, maybe the voting should be in February next year, allowing an entire month beyond the holidays to get to all the late-year issued books.

    My one strategy is fairly simple. On an Excel sheet, I list only the books that I thoroughly enjoyed and would be classified A’s by me, no matter the classification, which I list.

    Then I make sure I list a couple of books (if there are any that year) that were truly horrible or very disappointing to me.

    That’s it. Any other questions can usually be answered from this list of books, because if I really liked them that much, then I enjoyed the characters, as well.

    This year I have 23 books on the list, but not all of them are romance fiction. Some are non-fiction and others are suspense and general fiction. It’s a good system for me, uncomplicated and details for recall of the stories can be obtained on Amazon.

  2. I do most of my reading in ebook format these days, and a lot of the books I read, historical or otherwise, are from the ebook publishers, so I doubt my ten best will be the same as yours!
    I don’t think I’ve read a 2009 historical romance that came out in print. I was so disappointed with recent reads and their ability to make up the history if it didn’t suit the plot, that I concentrated on contemporaries and paranormals. I might dip my toe in the water again next year.

  3. Katie Mack says:

    As I sit here looking at the piles of books waiting to be read, I am reminded of just how little reading I was able to do this year compared to the last few years. I don’t even want to think about all the 2009 books I won’t have had a chance to read before ballots are due. Argh. If only I didn’t have to put food on the table, I could get so much more reading done.

  4. MarissaB says:

    I have an Excel spreadsheet which I use to track my ratings on the books I have read. I have this mainly because 2 years ago I had a hard time in AAR’s Annual Poll. Now, did I spend time reading 2009 books this year? Well, yes, about a third of the time. It’s so hard to keep up when I am also trying to read books in a series or books in other genre that intrigue me. So now I am cramming. I am spending all of December and early January reading just 2009 books. Maybe then I’ll feel like I am ready to vote in January.

  5. Susan/DC says:

    This year was a banner year for me in terms of reading current year books. So far I’ve read 39 books with a 2009 copyright, which must be a personal record. Usually my problem is that I’ve so few books to choose from. I’ll see if having a larger set of possible picks makes the Poll any easier.

  6. LeeB. says:

    Thanks to my spreadsheets, I can state that last year I read 273 books and so far this year 228. I lost some reading time in May/June when I was on vacation in Europe and the weather was gorgeous so I had to go out and sight see most of the time. ; ) I have read a lot of 2009 historical romances, contemporaries and romantic suspense, so I feel pretty good about being able to complete my ballot.

  7. Tinabelle says:

    I am in the “YIKES!” category. I keep track of my books on Shelfari and when I brought up my 2009 tagged books, I was amazed at how many are still in my TBR pile. I have a tendency to get lost in backlists of authors that I have newly discovered and often take time to reread books on my DIK shelf. I guess I am not the most focused reader. I tend to read mostly historicals and this year I would have to say that many of them have already “blended together.” My top picks rarely show up on the final list, and I have few doubts that will be the case this year, too.

    I agree with Tee that maybe the poll should be conducted in February to give us time to get those November/December books read. With the holidays that is tough to do by mid-January. And with a number of anticipated books on my list due to be released on Dec. 29th, there is no way I’ll get them read. Just a thought.

  8. LinnieGayl says:

    Thanks for all of the input. Glad to know I’m not the only one in panic mode. I also realized over the weekend that I was drawing a complete blank on debut author.

    Tee and Tinabelle, am making a note of your suggestion for starting the poll in February next year. Can’t promise anything, but it’s been added to the list for next year.

  9. LinnieGayl says:

    If you haven’t caught it, there’s a great thread over on the forums talking about best debut authors of 2009:


  10. C. Hughes says:

    I haven’t voted in the AAR poll before. How are the nominees chosen?

  11. LinnieGayl says:

    C. Hughes: It’s completely open, and depends upon the readers. There are no nominees. We have categories, and readers just vote for their favorites in each of the categories.

  12. C. Hughes says:

    Thanks, Linnie.

  13. Jennifer P says:

    Do December 29th, 2009 releases count for 2009 or 2010?

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