I should note that while I am interested in what is going on with the Hugos and would like for the Final Ballot to represent the best of SF for the previous year, I do not participate in the nominating process myself. My backlog of reading material is several decades long and I actually use the final ballot, or short list, to provide me some guidance for reading material for the current year. If I am able to get to a number of items on the list then I will participate in the voting in the appropriate categories.
Looking at the Hugo winners and runners-up over the years will give you good guidance to selecting a reading list. (My problem is not getting to them until the voting is well over.) It will also give you an idea of which authors were consistently honored by the community. (I am really surprised to see that Iain M. Banks only had one nomination in his career. Be sure to put Iain M. Banks on your reading list. To be confused with Iain Banks.)