I’ve decided to set myself a reading challenge. This isn’t a novel (no pun intended) idea, and there are plenty of other people reading through ‘top 100 books to read’ type lists or similar. My challenge will be to read all the winners of the Man Booker Prize.
I have a view that the winners of this accolade have a tendency to be overly complex and not all that readable to the average Jo(e), but when I think about the ones I have read, they’re actually pretty good. The Luminaries (winner 2013) is one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. The Blind Assassin (2000), Midnight’s Children (1981) and Life of Pi (2002) are all great. So I’m not sure where my opinion that they’re somehow unreadable has come from, given that it doesn’t reflect my own experiences.
Thus my challenge. I have a vague plan to read one a month, starting in July with last year’s winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. I might reread those that I’ve already read, but this is unlikely. I’m not much of a re-reader – there are just too many exciting new books out there! I’ll post a list of all the winners on a separate page, and will update as I’m reading through them.
As a complete aside, I’m an analyst by trade, and so here are some facts that I noticed when compiling the list:
- Four people have won the prize more than once – J. G. Farrell (1970 and 1973), J. M. Coetzee (1983 and 1999), Peter Carey (1988 and 2001) and Hilary Mantel (2009 and 2012)
- Iris Murdoch has been shortlisted for the award 6 times, making her the most shortlisted author
- Beryl Bainbridge fits the ‘always the bridesmaid never the bride category’ having been short-listed 5 times, but never going onto win the award
- Publishers Jonathan Cape have had the highest number of books shortlisted at 36
- Jonathan Cape also (unsurprisingly) have had the most winners, having published 8 of the winners
I’ll let you know how I get on!