Reflections and predictions on The Booker long list


Well, I’ve done it. I’ve read the thirteen books that make up the Booker long list. And I’m glad I’ve done it. I’ve just taken a photo of the books that I’ve still got. As I usually do, with my books, I’ve been giving them away, finding them new homes as I’ve worked my way through. I love stories but am fairly casual about the vehicle that delivers them. Right now, that seems a bit foolhardy. I rather wish I could look at all thirteen in a pile, keep all thirteen on a special shelf to remember the year I read the longlist. Even add up the pages, that’s what I’d be tempted to do right now if I still had all the books. I’d quite like to be able to say just how many pages of literary fiction I’ve consumed in the last few weeks.

So, to the predictions.

I’m predicting my shortlist in order of love.

The Stranger’s Child – Alan Hollinghurst

On Canaan’s Side – Sebastian Barry

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

The Sisters Brothers – Patrick de Witt

Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan

A Cupboard Full of Coats – Yvette Edwards

I very much think of it as a top three and then the rest. I know that I’ve plumped for the established dudes, for the literary lions. I promise that nobody would have been happier than me if I’d thought that the best book was from a debut author and a tiny press but I just didn’t. Sorry! Hollinghurst, Barry, Barnes are very firmly on my podium, and a fair whack of distance from the rest of the field.

So, over the past few weeks I have seen the world through the eyes of a young boy and an old woman, and everyone in  between. I’ve been in thrall to beautiful girls and dubious villains and have done all sorts of terrible things to survive. I’ve inhabited the past and feared the future. The only landscape I’d like to live in would be that in The Stranger’s Child, but I’d be happy to invite some of the other characters around for a drink. Jaffy Brown would be welcome to sleep on my sofa and I’d warily hang out with Eli Sisters and maybe even try to find him a nice girlfriend.

What I’ve most enjoyed about doing this is that it has lead me to read things that I wouldn’t have tried. Half Blood Blues and The Sisters Brothers are seriously good books that I would have dismissed as being not quite up my street. Even the books I was least keen on taught me something.

The downside of doing this challenge is that I love the randomness of reading. I like choosing. I always have a TBR pile but I don’t usually do it in order or at all.

So, I’m liberated, now. Free to decide for myself what to read.

Will I did this again next year? I might. If I do I’ll be keeping all the books.

14 responses to “Reflections and predictions on The Booker long list”

  1. What an achievement Cathy! To my shame, I’m only half way through my first. In my defence though, I have been doing a lot of reading for other projects.

    As always, great writing which makes me want to read everything you recommend.

  2. Bloody hell Cathy… well done you! That’s partly for getting through the long list in such a short time, but more for being able to give some of those books away… not one of my forte’s!

  3. I’ve just finished my Booker reading too (although I did abandon a few of them) I agree about the big three being the best and agree that it is a shame there isn’t an amazing debut on the list. I’m looking forward to the short list annoucement and to some random reading.

    1. I definately feel more involved and excited about it because of doing the reading. Which is perhaps obvious, though maybe not as I did find a few of the books a struggle to get through.

  4. Well done, Cathy! Marvellous. Next time you’re free for a drink, we should all meet up – want to pick your brains more on what you thought about the longlist!

    1. Yes, let’s. I can’t get enough long list chat.

  5. Well done Cathy. I haven’t read any of them and don’t know if I will. At the risk of being condemned as a heretic I’ve rarely enjoyed the prestigious award wining books that I’ve read. Maybe I’m a bit shallow in the reading stakes! In fact I’m currently reading the set books for the Children’s Lit module and thoroughly enjoying them. But well done you for persevering.

    1. If you’re time short and want just one to feel confident that you’ll get something from then the Julian Barnes is the one to go for. 150 pages of perception. I am a Barnes junkie, I must admit.

      I always worry when inaccessible books win prizes because I know it will put ‘normal’ people off future winners. Which of course isn’t to say that only easy books should win….

  6. Larraine Nicholls Avatar
    Larraine Nicholls

    Excellent, Cathy. What a wonderful journey.

  7. Really well done Cathy, great achievement. Not many people can say they have read the Booker Longlist, even in our line of work. Sounds like we’ll need more bookshelves, if you are going to start hanging on to books like me… Who is Jaffy Brown?!

    1. Jaffy Brown is the loveable boy who gets chased by a tiger and ends up going off on a ship to look for a dragon to join Jamrach’s Menagerie. Actually, have only just realised this but he is a bit like you.
      More book shelves. Yes. Don’t think I’ve mentioned it to you yet but I have a cunning plan.

  8. Great achievement, serious stuff. Well done.
    Just to say, can you ask the people to give you the books back?

    1. Would seem a bit mean. I love passing books on. Though I have already decided I’ll do it again next year and keep them.

  9. Great blog I enjoyed readinng

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