Tuesday, August 15, 2006 at 3:10 PM BST
For a good few years I have taken a keen interest in The Man Booker prize. I am intrigued by which books get chosen to be judged, and which is decided to be the best. I like to see if my own opinions of the books agree or not with the apparently knowledgeable judges decisions.
I have read 15 of the winning novels from the previous 37 years. A few of them I enjoyed immensely and rated highly enough to deserve such a prize. Others were quite forgettable. My all-time favourites have been Disgrace (JM Coetzee), The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood), Life of Pi (Yann Martel) and Vernon God Little (DBC Pierre).
In 2004 I decided to try to read a selection of the long-listed books while the prize was being judged. Through September and October I read 10 long-listed novels. Five out of six of those making the short-list were ones I had chosen to read. My favourites were Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) and The Electric Michelangelo (Sarah Hall). The winner was The Line of Beauty (Alan Hollinghurst) - which I hadn’t particularly enjoyed.
Summer 2005 was a fallow season for Booker reading - I managed only two titles - both short-listed, Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro) and The Accidental (Ali Smith). Both were superb. The winner was The Sea (John Banville) which I have yet to read.
This year I am planning to return to avid Booker reading form.