How do you choose a book to read? Reviews? The recommendations of friends? The cover? Serendipity?
Whilst over the years my choice has been influenced by all of the above, working through finalists in some of the world’s most prestigous competitions has probably been responsible for introducing me to some of my most treasured reading experiences.
There are those (and you know who you are) who scoff, labelling competitions like the Man Booker prize nothing more than a vehicle to ramp up sales by the established publishing industry and does not focus on promoting great writing.
The past few years have been dogged by criticism that the awards have become too populist and that they have recognised authors more for their reputation than the quality fo the individual book (Peter Carey and John Banville were cited as examples).
Tish tosh. For many years the Man Booker has provided me with endless personal entertainment as each year I try to read all of the short-listed books to see if I can choose who should be the winner, and who will be declared the winner. And rarely is that the same thing.
Yesterday the long list of 12 finalists was announced and the first stage of the race is on. There are 47 days until the shortlisted six will be announced.so clearly reading all on the long list is not going to happen (never mind the 146 entries).
So how to choose? Practicality has a big hand here. Many of the books are not on sale in Australia yet with some, including second favourite Will Self’s Umbrella and Andre Brink’s Philida, not available on Kindle until mid to late August.
Hilary Mantell’s Bring Up The Bodies had been almost at the top of the pile on the bedside table for some time and has now moved to the top. But first off, by a Kindle download, is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I am almost half way through and loving it.
So many books. So little time.