New year, new reading challenge

man booker

Hello! It’s not my first post of the year, but it’s (hopefully) the first post back after a bit of a hiatus from me. Everyone speaks about creating new year’s resolutions at this time of the year, and although it’s getting on a bit in January, it’s still kind of relevant.

The only resolution I ever make is to read a certain number of books, which this year is set at 52 – one for every week of the year. Will I achieve it? Who knows.

With it being January, I thought it was the best time to actually set myself challenges so that I am more motivated to stick to them. At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself by ensuring I was reading all the shortlisted books for the Man Booker Prize.

The award was established in 1969, with the shortlist announced in Autumn. Which means obviously I can’t start with the 2019 books as I won’t know what they are for a while, but I’m going to start by making sure I’m up to date with the 2018 list.

The full shortlist from last year is Milkman by Anna Burns (the winner), Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, The Overstory by Richard Powers and The Long Take by Robin Robertson.

I’ve read a fair few of them already, having picked The Mars Room up before I even knew it had been longlisted, but I still have a couple to get through, so I thought I’d read them all and pick my own ‘winner.’

As it stands, at the moment I’ve read The Mars Room (three stars), Milkman (four stars), Everything Under (three stars) and The Overstory, which I couldn’t decide on a star rating for. Four for the writing, two or three for the storyline?

Left in my challenge, I’ve got Washington Black which I’m hoping to get to soon, and I’m still waiting for The Long Take to become available at the library, as it’s the one I’m the most nervous about – not the biggest fan of poetry, or poetry prose.

So far, Milkman is the one I’ve enjoyed the most, which stands to reason as it was chosen for the winner. It’s set in the time of the Irish troubles, and follows an unnamed girl who is singled out because she is viewed as ‘different’ to other people, and involves how she is perceived by people following an unwanted love interest.

On the novel, Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 chair of judges, said: None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.”

You can hear more about Milkman straight from the author here:

Going forward, I plan to read all of this year’s shortlisted Man Booker Prize books. I’m also reading previous years winners, and shortlisted, as there’s a heap on my shelf that I’m keen to read, but haven’t gotten round to yet.

My hope is that I can read them all before the winner is announced, but I guess you’ll just have to watch this space.

Let me know if you’ve read the Man Booker books, and which one was your favourite!

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