I’ve set myself a challenge/project this year. Call it a goal if you like, but I won’t coz I don’t do so well with goals! I want to read as many Man Booker Prize winners as I can. Notice the absence of an exact number and the relatively long frame of time I’ve chosen? That’s by design…told you I don’t do so well with goals! But a challenge – don’t we all need one?
The thought occurred to me after I read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, the winner of The 2011 Man Booker Prize. I have this thing about award-winning literature and the ‘classics’ – I stay away from most of it! That’s not to say I avoid it completely or haven’t read any at all. Au contraire, I’ve read my share of Pamuk and Hemingway, Martel & Dickens, but my favorite genre, crime and mysteries (Dame Agatha Christie is a favorite), isn’t exactly a hotbed of ‘serious’ literature, in the traditional sense. But I love it 🙂 As I do Enid Blyton, Tove Jansson, Madeliene L’Engle and a whole host of other books for children and young adults. Non-fiction is another genre I shy away from – dull & dreary come to mind, for the most part.
The best way I can describe my reluctance to read more ‘award-winners’ and ‘classics’, is that I’m not sure I’ll always ‘get’ what everyone else seems to be gushing on about and will then be embarrassed to admit it! Not through any fault of the author you understand, just my inferior reading skills! But The Sense of an Ending gave me hope, it allowed me to see that award winning literature can also make for an easy and interesting read! Of course the very next book I had to read, the 2010 Winner, The Finkler Question, was a whole ‘nother story, but I stuck to it and boy am I proud of myself 🙂
Why the Booker? No particular reason – just seemed the most obvious choice. They have a great site and I’ve decided to work my way backwards all the way to 1969, which is when they first began. Along the way, I plan to read nominated books that sound interesting to me as well. I wish I could say I would read them all, and who knows one day I might but…baby steps! The plan is to review the books as I read them here, so I have proof I did what I said I would;-) I’m a fairly quick reader and a book a week is what I’d like to do. 45 books have won since 1969, out of which I’ve read two (I have actually read a few more but might just read them again), and started on my 3rd – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Not a bad start as starts go! But I can already see books on the list that I’ve scrupulously avoided, some just out of pettiness and/or a dislike of the author for reasons unknown – Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things is one such, Kiran Desai‘s The Inheritance of Loss is another. Oh well, will cross that bridge when I come to it 😛
So now that I have a rough plan – Onwards! Hope to review Wolf Hall in a week or so. Meanwhile, am posting my reviews for the two books I’ve read so far. Wish me luck and feel free to share your views on books and everything else! Have you challenged yourself recently? It’s a great feeling actually – well more often than not!