We Meet Again, Booker
Last year I decided to go ahead and read everything on the Booker Prize Short List, though after the prize had been given out. I've consciously read Booker noms before (most memorably Darkmans: amazing), but didn't really make an effort to make a reading list out of the prize nominees.
The 2009 stand-out for me was easily Simon Mawer's The Glass Room. I was completely invested in each character, and the ending, while a bit reliant on Victorian-style contrivance and coincidence, was completely satisfying.
Wolf Hall, winner of the 2009 Booker, was enjoyable but less moving. It almost felt like a "summer read" to me. I gifted it to my Dad for Christmas, since he loves a good historical novel. I certainly get that from him. It's not often these days that my Dad and I read the same book, so it was nice to have a bookish conversation with him again. He also filled me in on what happens to Cromwell after Wolf Hall ends. As one would expect from the court of Henry VIII, it's not good.
The Little Stranger was more enjoyable for me than Tipping the Velvet, which I found a bit heavy-handed. I'd read The Children's Book a good while before the Booker list was announced, because it's A.S. Byatt, and I am a slobbering fan girl. I don't really get Coetzee, and found myself hating the dreariness of everything in Summertime. I wanted to like The Quickening Maze more than I did, but as in the Coetzee, I found pretty much everyone unlikeable (perhaps I was too put off by the portrayal of Tennyson), and was thus unable to invest much feeling for the outcome of the characters.
Yesterday, the 2010 long-list was announced, and I've not read anything on it. Which means I'll have plenty of titles to add to my library queue come the announcement of the shortlist. I hope Lisa Moore makes it, because I keep meaning to read her, and keep getting distracted by shiny objects. I hope David Mitchell doesn't make it, because I really disliked Cloud Atlas. Hell, I didn't even finish Cloud Atlas and there are very, very few books I don't finish. I felt like I was reading Tristam Shandy again. Too convoluted and proud of it*. Not my scene, man.
I'm really looking forward to repeating my Booker Shortlist reading series. Not all the 2009 books were in the "win" column for me, but I read books I might not normally pick up, and I suppose that's the whole point of these things in the end: exposure.
*I realise the same could be said for critical theory.