Never mind the critics: “Go Set a Watchman,” the second novel by reclusive author Harper Lee, is a hit with readers.
The voting readers of Goodreads, the free website where readers share their reviews and recommendations with other bibliophiles, picked Lee’s prequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” as the best fiction book of 2015.
Lee’s hotly anticipated second novel was published in July amid claims that she was no longer able to make her own decisions, a charge that her caretakers denied. Published in 1960, “Mockingbird” won the Pulitzer Prize and sold more than 40 million copies.
Don’t want to learn more about Atticus Finch? There’s more to enjoy in the annual Goodreads Choice Awards beyond “Watchman.” Readers cast more than 3 million votes for their favorites in 20 categories for the annual awards, including fiction, science fiction, poetry, cookbooks and children’s picture books.
“What makes the Goodreads Choice Awards different from any other book award out there?” asked Jessica Donaghy, senior editor at Goodreads. “It’s all decided by the people who actually buy and read books, not a small committee of people. To figure out the first round of nominees, we dig into statistics from the millions of books added, rated and reviewed by Goodreads members in 2015.
“And then we open it up to voting by our members to make the final decision,” she said.
Celebrities Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari won in their categories, and two young adult authors have already nailed down movie deals for their award-winning works.
“The winners of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards encapsulate some of the year’s biggest trends in publishing,” Donaghy said. “From a Tumblr poet to a YouTube star’s memoir and from one of the fastest selling debut books in publishing history to the return of one of the most beloved authors in America.”
Check the list of winners here.
Fiction: “Go Set A Watchman” was the book everyone talked about in 2015, and the Goodreads readers were no different: More than 30,000 people gave “Go Set a Watchman” a four- or five-star rating.
Mystery and thriller: “The Girl on the Train,” the debut novel by Paula Hawkins, became very popular very quickly and won its category by an “overwhelming majority,” Goodreads says.
Historical fiction: “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah tells the story of French women living under Nazi occupation during World War II. Hannah calls it “the most difficult book I’ve ever written,” and all that work earned her a rare high average rating of 4.53 (from more than 81,000 ratings).
Young adult: “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven has gotten a lot of buzz, before publication and (importantly) after readers got hold of the book. It doesn’t hurt that a movie version is planned, and Elle Fanning will star.
Memoir and autobiography: “A Work in Progress” by Connor Franta is a win for the YouTube-famous generation. Franta, just 22 years old, offers a tale of a teen struggling in the small-town Midwest who becomes an Internet star. Along the way, he shares the lessons of his struggles to help teens and other young adults.
Poetry: “The Dogs I Have Kissed” by Trista Mateer, her second book, proves that young poets are creating communities of fans who love poetry on social media.
Humor: “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling shows the love that readers have for the star of “The Office” and “The Mindy Project.”
Nonfiction: “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari is the second celebrity book to nab a Goodreads award this year. The “Parks and Recreation” star became a voice for romance in modern times and got some academic backup for his take on love around the world.
History and biography: “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson, marking the centennial anniversary of the ship’s sinking, will keep you engrossed in the true story until the end.
Science and technology: Learn more about killer whales in “Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish” by former orca trainer John Hargrove, who is also featured in the CNN documentary “Blackfish.”
Romance: Having just one book nominated in this category allowed popular author Colleen Hoover to win outright for “Confess.” (When she had two books in this category in the past, the fans split their votes.)
Science fiction: “Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy No. 2)” by Pierce Brown earned him his second consecutive Goodreads Choice Award. Last year, he was chosen as “Best debut Goodreads author.”
Fantasy: “Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances” is Neil Gaiman’s third win. This anthology of short stories includes a Doctor Who story written for the show’s 50th anniversary and a never-before-published American Gods story.
Horror: “Saint Odd (Odd Thomas No. 7)” by Dean Koontz continues the adventures of a short-order cook in a small desert town who can communicate with the dead. Shockingly, it’s Koontz’s first Goodreads Choice Awards win.
Graphic novels and comics: Every Saga book has been nominated for these awards, and “Saga, Volume 4” by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples finally took the award home.
Food and cookbooks: “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime” is Ree Drummond’s second Goodreads Choice Award. Drummond hosts a Food Network show and lives on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.
Young adult fantasy and science fiction: “Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass No. 4)” by Sarah J. Maas took the win in what Goodreads says was a hotly contested category. Fans struggled to pick a winner, which means fans of Maas’ might also enjoy the other nominees.
Middle grade and children’s: Rick Riordan won this category for the fifth consecutive year with “The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard No. 1).”
Picture books: “The Day the Crayons Came Home” by Drew Daywalt and illustrator Oliver Jeffers delights parent and young fans of the team’s first book, “The Day the Crayons Quit.” That won in 2013.
Debut Goodreads author: Victoria Aveyard, author of “Red Queen,” started the year with a lot of buzz. Her debut novel opened at the top of “The New York Times” young adult best-seller list, and the book’s movie rights were sold before publication.