And so, I’ve done it…. finished reading all the Man Booker Prize winners since the award began! 1316 days ago I set myself a challenge to read them all by my 30th birthday. However, the 30th Birthday came and went – on July 15th 2016 and I hadn’t finished them all. Frustrated but realistically, I reset my end date for before my 31st year, or in a more positive light – the end of my 30th birthday year! So finishing in May 2017 i can say that I’ve finished a couple of months early, not 10 months late!
Reflections on the challenge
I have read a lot of books I would never have normally picked up or considered reading if I wasn’t doing this, which is great. It takes you out of your comfort zone, challenges assumptions and wakes you up to whole new genres and author styles – I’ve read lots of book about post colonial India and Australia, about the slave trade and about strange old men!
However, I would say that whilst I enjoyed the challenge I have probably only actually enjoyed about half the books on the list. There have been lots of strange novels (The Famished Road, The Conservationist, G) and the ones that I’ve enjoyed (Schindlers Ark, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, The Blind Assassin, The Luminaries, Midnights Children, The White Tiger). I’ve definitely enjoyed a higher proportion of the more recent ones.
I’m really glad I went to the effort of writing even short reviews of every one I’ve read as it’s great to look back over them and remember not only the story but where I was when I read it or listened to it. On mentioning ‘listening’ to books, this has been a new thing for me since taking up the challenge, other than childhood story tapes at bedtime I’d never fancied the idea of an audio book, but having lost a 40minute a day bus commute where I used to do most of my reading to a 2 hour a day driving commute it seemed like a more appealing option.
So first off I exhausted the whole of the London boroughs audio book collection of Booker prize winners and then discovered Audible, the rest I read, library books, kindle downloads and a few of the more recent ones purchased.
I mentioned in my last book review that it is strange now to not have an automatic shortlist of what to read next (from the list). The positive side of this is that I’m really looking forward to reading the next book I’m given without feeling a bit guilty to read something that’s not on the list of winners (I’ve already started ‘All the light we cannot see’ by Anthony Doerr).
And so, to wrap this up, here’s a few things I’ve learnt from this challenge…
1. Just because a book was won a literature prize it doesn’t mean you’ll agree that it’s a good book
2. Just because it’s won a literary prize and the rest of the world seems to love it, it doesn’t mean you’ll agree – Wolf Hall.
3. The pain and suffering brought upon people by other people during and for decades after any conflict is horrendous – and we don’t seem to be learning much from it.
4. The early days of the Booker were all about colonial India. The good, the bad and the ugly.