A few days ago, I read Newbery-committee member fairrosa's post about Newbery Award criteria, which is a very smart and insightful post indeed. I scrolled down to the bottom of the post, of course, to read it in its entirety, and I could see the first few lines of the previous post, which begins with: "In the middle of book 112..."
I suddenly remembered hearing about/seeing stacks of newbery contenders at committee members' homes. I thought about this same quantity of reading and books for the Printz.
And I had my selfishly motivated, destined to go unfulfilled wish, oddly enough the first time I'd ever even thought about this:
I wish I was on the Newbery committee! Or whoever selects the Printz. Or, OMG, both!
The thought of spending a year, or part of a year, reading dozens and dozens of children's/YA books with a certain goal, or set of criteria, as part of a small group of readers working with the same goals - this sounds like heaven to me.
I have no doubt it becomes tiresome, and stressful, to do one's normal life AND read 112+ books. I have no doubt it's a very, very, very difficult task, whittling down that tremendous list to just a handful of exceptional titles, with one book to rule them all.
But it sounds like a task I would excel at.
I've been reading middle-grade fiction recently for a personal project, and I have zipped through quite a stack of books - which also includes The Raven Boys, because it's due back at the library - in a very short time. I'm already reading books in insane quantities. And I don't have a small group of similarly-reading comrades with whom to share opinions, lists, quibble and debate with over relative merits. This is the sad/bad part about no longer taking classes - you lose an automatic 'book club,' defined as a set of people reading the same work at the same time and meeting to discuss it.
But I admit I get shivers of excitement at the prospect of having parcels of books delivered to my house, books I have a duty to read in certain careful, specific ways, and that I then have a duty to "grade," to make my case to others, to listen to/read their choices. Being able to have an opinion that actually turns out to be quite important and weighty is just a side bonus (I always have an opinion, and rarely are my opinions called for, or effectual). Newbery winners stay in print, and this is a huge big deal. Writers get a bump in sales, they become temporarily (or permanently!) famous, they get better contracts for future books (I hope). So it is an important task, but it isn't really the importance and opinion of it that gets me.
It's being officially charged with reading all those books that makes me long for committee membership.