Your to-be-read list just got bigger. 

Earlier this month, Indiana Humanities released the nominees for the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards. The awards, which were established in 2009, honor the best books written by Indiana residents (or those with deep connections to the state). This year, there were more than 100 submissions across eight categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s, young adult, drama, genre, and emerging. 

Some books, like Sofi Keren’s Painted Over and Melissa Stephenson’s Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back, are nominated in multiple categories. The nonfiction category is similarly rich – a biography of Birch Bayh and the life story of J. Irwin Miller both made the shortlist. But how do the judges decide which books make the cut? 

“We form a panel for each category,” said Megan Telligman, senior program manager for Indiana Humanities. “Each panel has three or more judges who are librarians, bookstore owners, scholars, former winners, tutors, and writers from the state that have long careers and expertise here. They read and review all the books. It takes about four to five months.” It may sound like a lot of reading, but Telligman said the judges really seemed to enjoy the process “They are experienced readers and writers in their own right, so it was familiar to them to take a stack of 25 books and start reading,” she said. 

While it’s routine for each judge to read a couple dozen books, there are some things that are different about this year’s Indiana Authors Awards. For starters, it’s the first awards program since 2018. The awards were put on pause last year, to figure out how the program could reach people both in Indy and those around the Hoosier State, as you see in the video below. 

From here on out, the awards will take place every two years. This is also the first time the awards are based on an author’s book, rather than the author’s body of work. And of course, due to COVID-19, the awards “ceremony” is a little different, too. 

This year, winners will be announced at 11 am, September 1, via a Facebook video. If you’re unable to tune in, no worries. The video will be shared via social media, so you can check Indiana Humanities’ feed(s) when you have a free moment. On the following day, September 2, the Literary Champion will be announced (again, via social media). It’s a new award, but Telligman believes it will help increase people’s appreciation of literature. “One of the goals of this program is to connect Indiana readers and writers,” Telligman said. “We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the organizations and individuals who may not be writers, but who do amazing things for the writing community.”