As every reader knows, there is no single definition of excellence when judging a book. And as every writer knows, readers’ opinions matter! Below are some prompts to help you get started.
What would you like to tell or ask the author?
Writers love to hear from their readers. Use this prompt as an invitation to share your thoughts with the author out in public. What was your experience of reading the book? What did you like about it or what did you think could have been done differently? Be specific about what stood out for you, and why, such as imagery, language, a relationship or conflict between characters, or maybe a particular scene or event. You might also ask the author a question about the story or even about their writing process.
Share how you felt about the book and let the writer—and all the other readers at this website—know what you think
Which character was most meaningful for you?
Characters in literature can give us new perspectives on ourselves and our experiences as we watch them react to different situations. Think about the characters in the book you read: were there any that you particularly identified with, or that seemed like someone you know (or would like to know)? Were there any that you didn’t like or didn’t understand? Or comment about how they reacted to the challenges of the plot or of their environment.
Tell readers here why these characters are meaningful for you and, perhaps, what we could learn from them.
How would you change or add to the story if you could?
Maybe the book got you feeling creative! Use the story as a starting point for your own creativity. You might imagine that you are writing a spin-off novel that makes a secondary character the protagonist—the focus of your story. Or create a missing chapter or scene, change the outcome of an event that you think should have ended differently, or give the characters new lives in a fictional world or an alternate universe.
Write, draw, record, or film your work and let us know how it’s connected to the original story.
Which book do you think should win the California Book Award?
You be the juror! Select a winner and tell us what it is about the book that seems amazing to you. Is it the plot or dialogue? The world the characters live in? Maybe it’s the actual writing itself. Does the book stir your emotions or make you think deeply? Why and how does it do this?
Share your selections for the California Book Award—even if they’re different from the jurors’!