crocodile-on-the-sandbank-186x300Each year AAR features a list of staff members’ buried treasures for the past year. In last year’s blog announcing our 2009 buried treasures, Lynn described them as  “the books that we really liked this year that just didn’t seem to get nearly as much attention as we thought they deserved.”  While tabulating your votes for AAR’s 2010 Top 100 Poll, I’ve been reminded that many of us not only have buried treasures for a particular year, some of us actually have much-loved, and frequently re-read books that no one else seems to know about.

As we wrote when publishing our 2007 Top 100 Poll, 2,784 titles, or 56% of all the titles readers voted for, appeared on only one ballot. That’s a lot of books that only one AAR reader loved enough to place on their ballot. After looking over ballots for the first weeks of this cycle, I’m confident that we’ll have similar numbers again of books appearing on only one ballot.

Each time I prepare my Top 100 ballot (and I’ve voted in each one), I face the same quandary:  Should I vote only for titles that I think have a chance of placing in the top 100 (or even the top 200), or do I genuinely vote for my favorites? And each time, I just go with my favorites, no matter where I think they’ll end up. Before the 2007 poll, I figured if nothing else, some unknown pollster would read my selections, and know that someone out there loved those books. Now, as a pollster, I know that Lee or Cindy (Cindy this year) will at least know about the books that I think are wonderful.

A few of the buried treasure on my 2007 ballot were ones that have actually received a DIK review at AAR. Anyone who has read my first DIK review can probably guess that I always include the first Amelia Peabody mystery by Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank, in my Top 100 ballot. Happily, I discovered in 2007 that I’m not the only one who voted for it. While there weren’t many of us, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a few other AAR readers also think fondly of this very romantic mystery.

Three wonderful old contemporary romances by Mariah Stewart, featuring the Enright family, Wonderful You, Moon Dance, and Devlin’s Light were in 48th through 50th place on my 2007 ballot. I’ve read each of these books several times since 2007, and they will definitely be on my 2010 ballot. I wasn’t the only person to vote for each of these, but I nearly was. While Moon Dance received a B+ review here at AAR, I recently discovered that neither of the other two have been reviewed at AAR. Although they were published in the late 1990s, they’re still available for purchase, and I intend to submit reviews of them in the next few weeks, to share what I love about the two books.

Not a single contemporary, category romance made it in the 2007 Top 100. However, I placed three DIK-reviewed category romances on my 2007 ballot. Jan Freed’s The Wallflower was in 45th place on my 2007 ballot, and I know it will appear somewhere on my 2010 ballot. Another DIK-reviewed category romance, Stephanie Bond’s 1998 Wife is a Four Letter Word, was in 75th place on my 2007 ballot, while Kathleen Korbel’s 2003 release, Some Men’s Dreams, was in 69th place.

My 2007 ballot also included two category romances that I consider DIKs, but that haven’t been reviewed here at AAR. In each Top 100 poll, I’ve voted for Sally Tyler Hayes’ 2001 Magic in a Jelly Jar. This is one of my all-time favorite category romances. In previous polls, I held out hope that others were voting for it as well,  However, when I finished tabulating the 2007 votes, I realized that I was the only one voting for this hidden gem. Karen Templeton’s marvelous 2005 release, Swept Away, appeared in 89th place on my ballot. The strange thing is, until I started writing this post, I was positive that I’d read a review of Swept Away at AAR; since I can’t find one, I have to conclude that I read about it on one of the forums.  Look for reviews of these two gems to appear from me sometime over the next month.

So what do you do? Do you only vote for books that you think have a chance? Or, do you take the opportunity to truly list your most loved books, even if you’re positive that no one else will vote for them? What are your long-buried treasures? Have they been reviewed here at AAR? If not, and it’s truly a wonderful book, have you ever thought about submitting a reader-submitted DIK?

– LinnieGayl Kimmel