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A Literary & Poetry Column
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Carolyn Offers Up her Sixth Annual Noble Prize For Literature

They say self-deprecating humor can be a good thing. So, know that the authors I pick for my Noble will never get famous for the prestige it bestows on the book or the writer. The award is an opportunity, of course, for some bragging rights, maybe in one's local press and online. But it's really all about giving writers of literary fiction and poetry a little recognition, appreciation for their talents and, yes, a little love.

For those considering applying for the award, books considered should show literary excellence in use of the English language. They should present themes or premises that might help readers recognize and curtail bigotry, or explore the human condition in other important ways. The contest is free except for the cost of the book. You may reach me at for instructions on where to mail it. I'm also happy to let you know whether a particular book fits my parameters, just in case there are doubts. Because we don't want to waste even one good book. On the other hand, I don't want to miss seeing one I might give an award to!

I also do a Ten Best List for and sometimes books that don't make the Noble award are on that list because I don't duplicate. Go back to the home page of this month and click on the Ten Best. Each of the MyShelf reviewers contributes a list. It's a great way to find more good reading and you'll also be able to tell what kinds of books reviewers like; that's valuable information if you're looking to get reviews for your book.

I also glean winners from the books readers nominate, the books written by my UCLA students and fellow instructors, books my editors assign me to review, and even a few that I pick up in second-hand book stores. I try to avoid books that have been hanging around bestseller lists (readers can access those without me) and those that have already won awards.

So now you know a little more about this award, let's enjoy the 2008 winners of my Noble Prize for Literature. That's "Noble," not "Nobel." Here they are.

Carolyn's 2008 Noble List for Reading in 2009

These books are in no particular order.

Dear Anais by Diana M. Raab Diana M. Raab for her Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You with a preface by Tristine Rainer. This title is a good indication of what you will find within. The poetry is very simple, accessible and elegant. The ISBN is 978-1-892386-41-1
A Golden Age by Tahmina Anam Tahmina Anam is the author of A Golden Age, a novel set in wartime Bangladesh. She paints an unforgettable portrait of that time and place. The ISBN is 978-0-06-147874-1
Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freeze Mathias B. Freeze is the author of Down to a Sunless Sea, a book of short stories. The author of The i Tetralogy tells stories daringly, like none you've read before. ISBN: 978-1-58736-733-5
The Lit World: Poems from History by Tim Miller Tim Miller is author of The Lit World: Poems from History. It is a book of prose poems that includes a series on Hitler's Bunker. ISBN: 978-0-9798707-0-5
Months and Seasons by Christopher Meeks Christopher Meeks is the author of Months and Seasons. A prolific writer and producer of his own books, this is his most recent from White Whisker Books. It's entertaining and wise. ISBN: 978-0-6151-8870-6
Running from Coyote: A White Family among the Navajo by Danalee Buhler Danalee Buhler is the author of Running from Coyote: A White Family among the Navajo. It's a literary page-turner that was nominated by Christine Alexanians, a reader who helped me out this year. ISBN: 978-0-595-40543-5
Tall Tales & Sonnets of the South by Stephen Douglas Hedrick Thank you Stephen Douglas Hedrick for Tall Tales & Sonnets of the South, a book of poetry full of the kind of music and story-poetry we remember from childhood. The photography is by Jack Anthony. It's so lovely, it's a small coffee table book. ISBN: 978-0-9792557-1-7


Tips and Tidbits

(Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote better. She will also include a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)

The Frugal Book Editor by Carolyn Howard-Johnson Writers of all patterns and stripes will enjoy the quick tips and questions and answers format of my blog, The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. Guidelines for submitting questions are in the left column of the blog. It is inspired by The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, which won USA Book News Best Book 2007 Award, Reader Views Literary Award and was a finalist in the New Generations Indie Award.

Readers' Tip: Avid readers will enjoy TheNewReviewBlogspot where they'll find reviews of books sent in by readers and reviewers. It's a source that offers alternatives to the big review journals and bestseller lists. Please feel to send a review of your favorite, too.

2009 Past Columns

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