Shortlists, Longlists & Roald Dahl Day

Good evening, Bookworms!

As promised last night, or strictly speaking the early hours of this morning, I have returned as I have more to blog about on the book front. As today has progressed, I have even more book-related stuff to mention, but let us start with what I had promised to blog about just under 24 hours ago… the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize!

Apologies that it has taken me a week since the announcement to blog on this matter, but I was still on holiday in Turkey when the shortlist was announced last Tuesday, cutting the number of nominated books from 13 to a mere 6. The half dozen books that made the cut, and are in with a shout of winning the prize on 18th October, are as follows…

  • The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes
  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  • Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan
  • Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman
  • Snowdrops – A. D. Miller

The announcement caused something of a stir as Alan Hollinghurst’s latest novel didn’t make it to the shortlist, but then Mr Hollinghurst is a former Booker Prize winner, having won the big prize in 2004 for The Line of Beauty, so it’s not as though someone who’s never won the prize has been denied yet again, is it? Plus, looking through the Man Booker Prize booklet I have here, it is pretty bloody rare for anyone to have won it more than once, so if he HAD made the cut with his current book and gone on to take the prize next month, that would’ve been very unusual! As well as Pigeon English, which I have mentioned on a few occasions before, I am now also taking a shine to Jamrach’s Menagerie. The blurb on the back of this paperback makes it sound like a good read, and I do rather like the cover, particularly the shiny curly waves! I know, it’s a saying as old as time, that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but some books do have very nice covers! These curly waves on the cover are very reminiscent of those in some Japanese prints, the sleeve of the Keane album “Under The Iron Sea” and another novel that I have in my wardrobe but haven’t read yet, We The Drowned by Carsten Jensen. I think Jamrach’s Menagerie has the nicest curly waves of the lot, though!

As I’ve got other stuff to get through before sending this to be published to the net and clocking up the Zs, I wish the remaining 6 shortlisted books all the best for 18th October and may well blog in the intervening days about such matters as wondering what attracts people to books, particularly people on prize-judging panels for literary awards!  If I were judging some books for a prize, what would help a book’s cause in my eyes? But, for now, onto a longlist…

We now return to the matter of World Book Night 2012 and the Top 100 has been listed. Although some books may change, the cut-off point has been reached for finding 100 books from which 25 hugely popular ones will be chosen as the books to be given out on or around 23rd April next year for the second-ever World Book Night. One of my absolute favourites, The Book Thief, was 3rd on the list, bettered only by To Kill A Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice! Not bad going, is it?! I will put a link to the WBN website’s Top 100 page at the end of this blog entry so you can have a look and see what made it onto the list. I do question the inclusion of a boxed set, though. Surely this is about individual books, not entire sets of them counting as one, particularly given that 25 of these books are going to be given out for free in huge numbers come April next year?! I have read and loved the Harry Potter series as a whole, but even out of seven books, surely there are some diverse views as to which of the Potter books readers like the most? Also, how can you then have one of the books as an individual entry when you’ve had the entire set listed earlier on in the longlist?

Having said all that, though, there is only this one instance, in this top 100, of having a boxed set classed as one item. Compare that to the list the BBC drew up some time ago now which classed The Lord of the Rings as one item when it is three books and, even more ridiculously, classed the C S Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series as one item! Correct me if I am wrong, but there are, to my knowledge, even more books in the Narnia series than there are in the Harry Potter series and J K Rowling wrote SEVEN books about our favourite student wizard! Is it asking too much to just have a top 100 of 100 individual books? Even if your favourite book is part of a series, vote for it as an individual book. If you like the whole series, vote for each book in it as individual books. But no boxed sets!

The other good thing about the WBN drawing up a Top 100 is that it means some newer books get included on the list which weren’t around when the BBC drew up their list. Although their list was a mix of old and fairly new, it is now some time since it came out, probably in 2000 as part of all that Millennium palaver, and there have been some great books in recent years which deserved inclusion in a newer list. Room by Emma Donoghue was only published last year and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel the year before, and those have made it onto the World Book Night list. Further WBN news will come when I have it.

Some news now on the Kindle, as I had an email from Guardian Books today apologising for the delay, but informing me that they had just received the Kindles from Amazon today and were now getting them despatched to the recipients. I should receive mine in the next week or two. Looking forward to receiving it and also looking forward to finding out which books have been preloaded onto it.

Before I call it a night and snuggle down for some late reading and snoozing, I thought I’d take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Roald Dahl Day! Roald (1916-1990) was born on 13th September 1916 in Cardiff to Norwegian parents. He served in the RAF as a fighter pilot during the Second World War, but he is best known as an author, particularly an author of children’s books. He is certainly amongst my favourites. Both my sister and I enjoyed a fair few Dahl stories when we were kids and I am sure my niece Charlotte will also enjoy them when she’s older. Being a chocoholic as well as a bookworm, I’d have to plump for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory as my favourite Dahl story. My sister’s favourite, if I’m not mistaken, is The Twits, although George’s Marvellous Medicine is another classic!

Given that we’ve ended with legendary works of children’s literature, I hope you all live happily ever after! Take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Line of Beauty – Alan Hollinghurst
  • Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman
  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
  • We The Drowned – Carsten Jensen
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) – J.R.R. Tolkein
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (series) – C.S Lewis
  • Harry Potter (series) – J.K. Rowling
  • Room – Emma Donoghue
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  • The Twits – Roald Dahl
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl

P.S. As promised, here is that World Book Night longlist…



Filed under Books

2 responses to “Shortlists, Longlists & Roald Dahl Day

  1. Amanda Ball

    Another interesting post Joanne. I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of the Kindle as a reading experience. To me there is something lovely about the feel of the paper and the look of the pages, so Im curious to know what such an avid bookworm will make of it!

    • Hello! Thanks for the comment. I am looking forward to the Kindle and particularly to seeing which ebooks have been loaded onto it. However, I see myself using it when travelling, but nothing will ever be the same as actual books, that smell of fresh new books, the covers, the blurb on the back, the title in embossed lettering sometimes…

      What any e-reader device provides is a lightweight portable library for when you’re on the go, but it doesn’t give you that precious experience of browsing round bookshops for hours! Also, you can’t beat getting a new book and getting home, opening it, finding a blank page or the back of the front cover, and writing “This book belongs to:” followed by your name and address…. Nor can you beat a few pencilled notes in the margins of pages! Yes, some e-readers allow some “highlighting” and annotation, but it’s not your own handwriting, is it?

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