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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Independent Literary Awards

Over the past couple of months, because I clearly needed more books to read, I served as a judge/panelist for the newly launched Independent Literary Awards. These are awards given out by Literary Bloggers...people like me, who blog about books and all things reading related.

I was very excited to serve on the Non-Fiction Award committee as this is a passion of mine.  From the nominations received, we determined a "short list" of 5 titles. After reading all 5, we chose our "Top 3." The titles making the cut were:

"At Home: a short history of private life" by Bill Bryson
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

"The Warmth of Other Suns: the epic story of America's Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson

And the winner was...(insert drumroll here)...
"The Warmth of Other Suns" (Wilkerson). This is a beautifully crafted book that chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson relates to readers by connecting personal stories with American History. This book is detailed, clearly well-researched, and amazingly written. It reminded me of reading Steinbeck.

Our runner up was actually my favorite book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." Henrietta Lacks was a poor African-American woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951, when she was only 31 years old. Doctors removed cells from a tumor during Lacks' cancer treatment. While she died from the disease, her cancer cells proved uncommonly hearty, reproducing at an unheard-of rate, and even today, years later, billions of these cells are used in laboratories around the world and have led to such discoveries as the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization. This book is a story about science but it is also so much more. It is incredibly well-researched and well-written. The science is completely accessible to anyone that might read this book, but it also satisfies science geeks like myself. Lacks' story is a tragic one, filled with injustice, ethical questions, right vs. wrong, history, and family dynamics. There is really something for every reader in this book.

To find out more about the awards, and to see all the category winners, click here. And I think that both of these books tie-in nicely with my Spotlight On: Black History Month books that I've been highlighting this month. Perfect! Not sure how I got so lucky, but I'll take it.

What do you think? Have you read any of these books? What was your favorite adult non-fiction title of 2010?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making me aware of this award. I've read Henrietta Lacks and have Warmth of Other Suns and these are books that would fit into any school media center. I'll have to follow these awards to find more such books.


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