Three months ago, I set myself a challenge to increase the number of award-winning and award-nominated authors that I’d read. An examination of a list of Booker nominees and winners embarrassed me – although I did have a lot of books by authors on the list waiting to be read. So I said I’d try and do better. The proof of the pudding is in the eating – how am I getting on? And the week of the announcement of this year’s winner (Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North) seemed like a good time to check in.
Well it’s like a litany of failure on this blog. I’m not bringing the to-read pile down, I’m not managing to curb my buying habits as much as I hoped and my literary fiction reading over the last quarter has been a bit patchy. Back in July, the total was seven books that were nominated – of which two had won. Here we are in October, and we’re up to… eight with two winners. Drat.
So the new book on the list is NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names – one of last year’s nominees. And to be honest, it didn’t do much to dispel my preconceptions about award nominated books being hard going. And not hard going because of the subject matter (although that was fairly tough in places) but just hard to read. But it deals with a very important topic and an area of life that I know I don’t know much about and really ought to. So I’m glad I read it, even if it wasn’t the best book I’ve read this year.
It’s not all doom and gloom though (I’m frantically searching for bright sides). I started Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch on holiday – although The Boy borrowed it off me when he ran out of reading material and I haven’t finished it yet. And this year’s shortlist included Karen Joy Fowler – and whilst I haven’t read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (yet), I have read an earlier novel of hers – The Jane Austen Book Club. So that’s another author who’s been nominated for stuff that I’ve read. And I’ve read another Muriel Spark, so whilst she was already on the list of author’s I’d read, I have at least reduced the award-nominee backlog on the to-read pile slightly.
Another must do better for Verity. Here’s hoping I grow some willpower and stick to a reading order in the next quarter…