Long Buried Treasures

crocodile-on-the-sandbank-186x300Each year AAR features a list of staff members’ buried treasures for the past year. In last year’s blog announcing our 2009 buried treasures, Lynn described them as  “the books that we really liked this year that just didn’t seem to get nearly as much attention as we thought they deserved.”  While tabulating your votes for AAR’s 2010 Top 100 Poll, I’ve been reminded that many of us not only have buried treasures for a particular year, some of us actually have much-loved, and frequently re-read books that no one else seems to know about.

As we wrote when publishing our 2007 Top 100 Poll, 2,784 titles, or 56% of all the titles readers voted for, appeared on only one ballot. That’s a lot of books that only one AAR reader loved enough to place on their ballot. After looking over ballots for the first weeks of this cycle, I’m confident that we’ll have similar numbers again of books appearing on only one ballot.

Each time I prepare my Top 100 ballot (and I’ve voted in each one), I face the same quandary:  Should I vote only for titles that I think have a chance of placing in the top 100 (or even the top 200), or do I genuinely vote for my favorites? And each time, I just go with my favorites, no matter where I think they’ll end up. Before the 2007 poll, I figured if nothing else, some unknown pollster would read my selections, and know that someone out there loved those books. Now, as a pollster, I know that Lee or Cindy (Cindy this year) will at least know about the books that I think are wonderful.

A few of the buried treasure on my 2007 ballot were ones that have actually received a DIK review at AAR. Anyone who has read my first DIK review can probably guess that I always include the first Amelia Peabody mystery by Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank, in my Top 100 ballot. Happily, I discovered in 2007 that I’m not the only one who voted for it. While there weren’t many of us, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a few other AAR readers also think fondly of this very romantic mystery.

Three wonderful old contemporary romances by Mariah Stewart, featuring the Enright family, Wonderful You, Moon Dance, and Devlin’s Light were in 48th through 50th place on my 2007 ballot. I’ve read each of these books several times since 2007, and they will definitely be on my 2010 ballot. I wasn’t the only person to vote for each of these, but I nearly was. While Moon Dance received a B+ review here at AAR, I recently discovered that neither of the other two have been reviewed at AAR. Although they were published in the late 1990s, they’re still available for purchase, and I intend to submit reviews of them in the next few weeks, to share what I love about the two books.

Not a single contemporary, category romance made it in the 2007 Top 100. However, I placed three DIK-reviewed category romances on my 2007 ballot. Jan Freed’s The Wallflower was in 45th place on my 2007 ballot, and I know it will appear somewhere on my 2010 ballot. Another DIK-reviewed category romance, Stephanie Bond’s 1998 Wife is a Four Letter Word, was in 75th place on my 2007 ballot, while Kathleen Korbel’s 2003 release, Some Men’s Dreams, was in 69th place.

My 2007 ballot also included two category romances that I consider DIKs, but that haven’t been reviewed here at AAR. In each Top 100 poll, I’ve voted for Sally Tyler Hayes’ 2001 Magic in a Jelly Jar. This is one of my all-time favorite category romances. In previous polls, I held out hope that others were voting for it as well,  However, when I finished tabulating the 2007 votes, I realized that I was the only one voting for this hidden gem. Karen Templeton’s marvelous 2005 release, Swept Away, appeared in 89th place on my ballot. The strange thing is, until I started writing this post, I was positive that I’d read a review of Swept Away at AAR; since I can’t find one, I have to conclude that I read about it on one of the forums.  Look for reviews of these two gems to appear from me sometime over the next month.

So what do you do? Do you only vote for books that you think have a chance? Or, do you take the opportunity to truly list your most loved books, even if you’re positive that no one else will vote for them? What are your long-buried treasures? Have they been reviewed here at AAR? If not, and it’s truly a wonderful book, have you ever thought about submitting a reader-submitted DIK?

- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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13 Responses to “Long Buried Treasures”

  1. Tee says:

    LinnieGayl asked: “Do you only vote for books that you think have a chance? Or, do you take the opportunity to truly list your most loved books, even if you’re positive that no one else will vote for them?”

    You know, I take this poll at its full description by AAR. And that is to list your favorite romances of all time. So that means, to me, not worrying whether they have a chance or not of being others’ favorites, too. I’ve even taken it a little further and named books that aren’t necessarily strongly romance-centered, but contain a relationship, just the same.

    You also asked, “What are your long-buried treasures?”

    I have some books that I absolutely loved and hear very little about them here. Really, that’s not unexpected because some of them don’t have strong romantic relationships, but the stories held me just the same. Most of them did contain some kind of relationship, though.

    See Jane Run by Joy Fielding
    Homeplace by Dorothy Garlock
    A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
    A Rose for Maggie by Kathleen Korbel
    Long Night Moon by Theresa Weir
    Amazon Lily by Theresa Weir

    More recent issues include:

    Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
    The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian
    Still Alice by Lisa Genova

    I agree with you on the Mariah Stewart earlier series you mentioned. All of her books have been great. She’s still doing well, although her writing has changed a bit (not surprising, since we have seen this with other authors, too).

  2. This is my quandry every year with the oscars – go with what I know will win so I can win whatever office pool or friendly wager I’m in – or go with my heart. and I always go with my heart. I love a good buried treasrue and the Crocodile On The Sandbank gets reread almost every year at my house.

    I’ve been thinking about this list and I’m stuck at half way. I need to get focused…

  3. LeeB. says:

    As a pollster, I’m sometimes surprised by people’s ballots, especially when I see an author’s name I have never heard of — and I’ve been a pollster for a long time! ;) So I think it’s great when people vote for their favorites near and dear to their heart rather than hoping a book will make the Top 100.

    When it comes to my personal Top 100, I vote for the books I love, even if certain titles don’t receive votes by anyone else.

  4. Pat says:

    This was my first year voting–mainly because I realized from the beginning that this would be WORK. And it was.

    I started by culling the 350+ books on my Kindle and the same number (at least) in my books around the house. With my list of 274 books, I then started to group them: A, B, C. The A’s turned out to be 70 books, so I decided that’s what I’d go with–ranking those 70.

    So did I worry about if any of them would be “winners”? No, not at all.

    Of my top 10,
    1. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
    2. Slightly Dangerous, Mary Balogh
    3. The Temporary Wife, Mary Balogh
    4. Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
    5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    6. Suddenly You, Lisa Kleypas
    7. The More I See You, Lynn Kurland
    8. The Older Woman, Cheryl Reavis
    9. She’s Got It Bad, Sarah Mayberry
    10. A Reason to Live, Maureen McKade
    I’d guess that only #1, #2, and possibly #5 will make it into the general top 100. I’d also guess that very few people have even heard of #7, #8, #9, and #10, even though #9 was reviewed as an A- book here. (#7 and #8 were reviewed as B books while #10 wasn’t even reviewed.)

    I can’t wait to see what those who took the time to review and reflect on their collections came up with!

  5. library addict says:

    Ooh, I love Magic in a Jelly Jar and it was on my ballot this year. Glad to know I am not the only one.

    Many of my DIK books got C grades here at AAR and there are often books that get an A here that I didn’t care for. I think most of my choices will fit the “only on one ballot” category, but that’s life. I went with my heart rather than what I think others will choose just like I do with the annual reader poll.

  6. msaggie says:

    Tee, I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns too! However, it isn’t strictly a romance genre book.

    I voted for books which I loved, and even left out some of those I loved because I thought I didn’t love them enough! This is the first time I have done the top 100, and I am realising there are many books I love that I didn’t put in my poll! And I am sure there are several in my list which are the “only on one ballot” category. I think it would be great if LinnieGayl and the merry company of pollsters could list them all out on a supplementary link to an Excel spreadsheet so we could look at them and check them out.

  7. LinnieGayl says:

    Tee, I’ve read and enjoyed A Rose for Maggie as well; really touching book.

    Molly, hooray for another Crocodile on the Sandbank fan! I have it now on audio as well, so will be listening to it once a year.

    Lee, as someone who has tallied your ballots the past two times, I can guarantee you have some books that no one else votes for. You truly vote for the ones you love :)

    Pat, loved The More I See you by Lynn Kurland!

    Library Addict, hooray for another fan of Magic in a Jelly Jar!

  8. Tee says:

    msaggie said: “I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns too! However, it isn’t strictly a romance genre book.”

    I know, but darn it was such a great book, I just could not leave it off the list last time. Well, if you dig down, there is somewhat of a relationship with a secondary character; but, of course, the story was so much more than that. What a message it sends to women everywhere.

  9. melinda says:

    I think there is a quandary about what is romance for the poll – I think A Thousand Splendid Suns was wonderful but doesn’t belong in my list of romance books; I also don’t keep Amelia Peabody or The Time Traveler’s Wife, both favorites, in my romance book list. However, I keep the Outlander series in my romance list, even though I don’t think they are romance either. Confusing.

    I wasn’t yet reading romance when the last poll was done, so this is my first. I have a “favorites” list I keep in my book db, and I do have 3 or 4 absolute favorite romance books that took the top slots. Other than that – I just threw all my “favorites” into a spreadsheet and sorta vaguely organized them. I would say my romance reading is influenced by the various Top 100 lists, because after I started reading, I decided I needed to read what others thought were Top 100 material to get a sense of what I liked and what was considered popular and/or classic.

    But, bottom line, my top 100 submissions are books I truly loved, and I did not use whether or not anyone else liked them as criteria. I don’t think I have any “long buried treasure” books though – I’m still trying to catch up with everyone who has been reading longer than I have!

  10. CindyS says:

    This is the year I’m really over thinking and yet, I have good reason.

    It’s been years (and years and years) since I’ve read some of the books I would list on the Top 100 list so I keep asking myself if it’s the memory or the book that I love.

    I’m slowly drawing to the conclusion that I’ll be doing a Top 100 romance re-read in the near future. I’m not sure if it will AAR’s official list I’ll be re-reading or my own (probably my own). As a pollster I get to see so many titles and authors and I’ll think ‘oh yeah, I remember that story and I remember loving it – but how would I feel about it now?’.

    And I’m not sure I have hidden gems as much as I just trod along a different path at times. And seeing the ballots – I know I’m not the only one!

    CindyS (looking forward to LinnieGayl’s ballot – and yours too!)

  11. Mary Carver-Stiehler says:

    I am so very glad you have included Elizabeth Peter’s book. She is truly a treasure and I re-read her books all the time. She is like comfort food to me.

  12. Yuri says:

    I really love the idea of submitting a review for all those one-vote only books, but unfortunately its only the posters that know which ones those are. Of course we could all just submit reader DIKs for any book on our list that hasn’t been reviewed by AAR ;-)

    Personally I always just vote for the books I loved, even when I know other people won’t know them or didn’t like them. Afterall I have been surprised in the poll when something turned up in the final results that I wasn’t expecting. But I do limit my poll to those books that are strictly romance – it makes it easier apart from anything else.

  13. Sandy C. says:

    This will be my first time voting in this poll. I compiled a list, which so far is only about 70 books. I started with the books I reread the most, like “Dream Man” by Linda Howard and “Absolutely, Positively” by Jayne Ann Krentz. However, a lot of my older category books are also finding their way onto my list, like “The Morning Side of Dawn” by Justine Davis and “The Surprise of His Life” by Karen Keast. Will most of them be one-hit wonders? Probably, but rather than think of it as “wasting” a vote, I want my older books to have a voice. :) (I’m also going to post my list for others to see.)

    How do I choose certain books? For instance, right after it came out, I reread certain parts of “Force of Nature” by Suzanne Brockmann for about two weeks straight, and yet the book as a whole probably wouldn’t feature as a favorite. It’ll probably go on my list, but a lot further down than I would have originally thought.

    This has been an interesting process. I figured I’d have no trouble coming up with 100 titles, but it’s more difficult than I would have thought!