Heresy? !!!

Back in July, I was collating all things Booker at Shiny. One thing I did was to try to obtain a copy of every single Booker Prize winning novel for photos – I scoured the local charity shops and bought cheap copies online, and of course, I already had a goodly number of them on my own shelves. I managed to get all but the Newby, the very first winner which was too expensive. Revisiting all the prize-winning novels as the reviews came flowing in from Shiny’s wonderful team of reviewers around the glove was lovely.

There are many Booker winners I have read including: William Golding, Roddy Doyle, Margaret Atwood (need to re-read that one), Peter Carey’s Oscar & Lucinda, J.G.Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur, Kingsley Amis, J.M.Coetzee’s Disgrace, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Ondaatje, Pat Barker, Stanley Middleton and DBC Pierre.

There are many Booker winners I have long wanted to read: Penelope Fitzgerald, Penelope Lively, Kiran Desai, Anita Brookner, Julian Barnes, Graham Swift – and I’m still on the fence about A.S.Byatt and Salman Rushdie so they stay for now. Around half of these were already on my shelves.

There are winners I hadn’t considered reading but now want to: George Saunders, Paul Beatty, V.S.Naipaul (R.I.P.), Bernice Rubens, Jan Martel (yes, I’ve never read Life of Pi!),  Arundhati Roy,  even James Kelman.  Having bought copies of these and getting my Paul Beatty one signed, they’re staying on the shelf.

There are some Booker winners that I would never choose to read, unless for book group of course:  including Iris Murdoch, Ben Okri, David Storey, Barry Unsworth, and Nadine Gordimer, and not forgetting The Finkler Question! My copies of these will go to the charity shop – I know I’d have to re-buy them if book group picked them (which is unlikely), but it frees up the shelf-inches.


There are some winning titles I owned before that I no longer have an urge to read at all:  Can you guess which they might be?

In the case of The Luminaries, I think it was a case of automatic buying – in fact, I had to re-buy this one for the Booker photoshoot! I’d already got rid of my original hardback which I bought when it won.

I just can’t bring myself to devote the time and energy to Hilary’s epics though… I saw and really enjoyed Wolf Hall on the telly, and have read so much about it, the only reason to read it would be for appreciating Hilary’s prose, which having previously tried and failed with A Place of Greater Safety, is obviously not for me in her historical works.  I’ve decided that as Wolf Hall has conspicuously sat there on my shelves since 2009 when I bought it – OVER NINE YEARS AGO – always staring at me with its red spine, that I’m never going to read it, nor the sequel(s).

Don’t tell me these novels are the best thing since sliced bread – they’re just not for me. OK?


16 thoughts on “Heresy? !!!

  1. Rebecca Foster says:

    I could never do a reading all the Booker winners challenge like Karen has attempted because I know there are some I will never read and don’t want to, and others I’ve pushed myself through that were torture and not worth it (MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN!). However, I’d put in a good word for The Sea, The Sea and Bring Up the Bodies: the former is one of the best Murdochs I’ve read, and the latter can be read as a standalone and is so much better written than Wolf Hall. Possession is one of my all-time favourites.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I think I’m bored of the Tudors… If I suddenly have a change of heart, I’ll get cheap paperbacks. For now, I need the shelf-space! You’ve almost convinced me to add Midnight’s Children to the pile too. The Sea, The Sea goes though – I’ll stick to her shorter novels.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’ll bet you haven’t spent your pounds on books you’re never going to read though. I should have learnt by now! 😉

  2. Elle says:

    If you’re still on the fence about A.S. Byatt, I can say that Possession is in my top five novels of all time (so far). Which may or may not be considered a point in its favour!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I tried the Byatt some years ago but couldn’t get into it. But one day when the time is right, I probably will love Possession, so it stays for now.

  3. Ken Iltz says:

    I have many books that I would enjoy reading if I got beyond page 50. I give up early if I don’t like the style of writing or the subject. BUT, having said that, I think that you should give Hilary Mantel a chance. I am hooked on her historical books and eagerly look forward to the next in the series. Also, I found The Luminaries to be an enjoyable read. NONETHELESS, all of this is very subjective.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Different strokes as they say… I don’t like giving up early on a book, but did with Mantel’s French revolution one. I typically prefer to read more shorter books too, a chunkster REALLY has to grab me for me to give it a go.

      • Sly Wit says:

        Yes, I have a new rule with books (similar to my 2-hour-movie rule): Unless I really, really want to read something that is over 500 pages, I don’t even consider it, let alone read the first few pages. Life’s too short.

  4. Ed says:

    I treat the Booker Prize winners and short lists as suggestions. I don’t like to feel like I am obliged to read them. I think the only winners I have actually read are “Remains of the Day” and “Schindler’s Ark” and I liked them both, though I questioned the eligibility of the latter as it was really a non-fiction book written in the style of a novel. I have read a number of others which have been short listed, and I think that all were good books, but one or two were perhaps over-hyped.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I do have an urge to see whether I agree with the judges on the winning book, hence splashing the cash on any winners that attract… I do find the short and long lists more interesting with books I actually want to read in them. Remains of the Day is wonderful though – we’re in agreement there.

  5. Liz Dexter says:

    I can’t be bothered with the Mantels – I didn’t like her earlier books and have no need, in fact I don’t like fiction based on real people, anyway! Matthew my husband read The Luminaries and loved it, but I CBA. But Iris Murdoch’s “The Sea, The Sea” is brilliant, such a good story and a world you can see in front of you. So I AM going to tell you that’s worth keeping!

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