A Booker reader's shortlist

<p>So what to make of this year's longlist out here at the buying and paying end of the book world? I've been sent several as free copies, some have exchanged around the blogosphere (many thanks to <a href="http://theasylum.wordpress.com/">John Self's Asylum</a>) but I've paid hard-earned cash for the rest, sadly including the one I have liked the least.</p>
<p>I've been a Booker Prize Winner reader since 1988, Peter Carey's <em>Oscar and Lucinda</em>. But this is the third year I've attempted to read the longlist and the first year I've actually managed to do it before the shortlist is announced.</p>
<p>Helped in part by fewer books, my three babies now being in their twenties, a week's holiday and the fact that I'd already read four of them.</p>
<p>I've relished the reading challenge and have grown very fond of this manageable row of books in front of me on my desk. Just looking at the spines has extended my thinking time about each one and I'm still cross that I couldn't get on with one because the cover had almost persuaded me that I'd love it.&nbsp;</p>
<p>I haven't had time to check but I assume arguments and cynicism rage about the standard and predictable range of the books with their token gestures towards all corners of life, but as a representative selection of what's out there, and some of it less than obvious, for me this list ranks as the one that it could be argued has spawned a new genre of Booker book.</p>
<p>New genre? Well they are all readable for a start and that hasn't always been the case in my humble experience.You wouldn't be disappointed to find yourself stuck on a long train journey with most of these, in fact several make it worth going on one specially so that you could read them cover to cover.</p>
<p>Some have moved me, some have challenged, some have enthralled and some have made me smile. Posting thoughts on the blog has generated some compelling debate about all the books and what we as readers are looking for, coupled with an awareness that this might be an entirely different remit to that of the judges. I'm not the only one who has read these and it has been fascinating to see a consensus emerge about which books quite a few of us have seen as great reads.</p>
<p>But I suppose I must stick my neck out and put my head on the block whilst raising it over the parapet and pronounce. I've been locked in a room with me for several agonizing hours, the debate has been heated but always friendly, and I'm still on speaking terms with myself.</p>
<p>The moment has come for my shortlist,</p>
<p><img width="74" height="114" alt="" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Bookseller%20Images/AnimalsPeople.JPG" /><img width="74" height="114" alt="Darkmans" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Bookseller%20Images/Darkmans.JPG" /><img width="74" height="114" alt="Mister Pip" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Bookseller%20Images/MisterPip.JPG" /></p>
<p><img width="74" height="114" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Bookseller%20Images/SelfHelp.JPG" alt="Self Help" /><img width="74" height="114" alt="The Gathering" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Bookseller%20Images/TheGathering.JPG" /><img width="74" height="114" alt="" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Bookseller%20Images/TheWelshGirl.JPG" /></p>
<p>Darkmans - Nicola Barker<br />
The Welsh Girl - Peter Ho Davies<br />
Self Help - Edward Docx<br />
The Gathering - Anne Enright<br />
Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones<br />
Animal's People&nbsp; - Indra Sinha</p>
<p>No declaration on the dovegreyreader winner because the real shortlist has yet to appear and the judge has to meet with herself again on 16th October and I think there's lunch included that day.<br />
<br />
<strong>Dovegreyreader's shortlist . . .</strong><br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/08/booke... People by Indra Sinha</a><br />
Time and again he hits the bull's eye, straight to the core, the fundamental truth in any given situation. . . Animal's People absolutely does make my shortlist . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/07/miste... Pip by Lloyd Jones</a><br />
Lloyd Jones is a New Zealand writer, this the first of his eight books to be published in the UK, and we can but hope that John Murray are picking up some more because I for one would love to read them . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/08/booke... Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies</a><br />
Now for those of you sitting out in my (waiting room) comments section nursing a relapse of hyper-sheerbloodymindedness about reading anything off a prize list ever, Sally that's you, I am going to prescribe a seven day course of The Welsh Girl&nbsp; . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/08/booke... Gathering by Anne Enright </a><br />
So I started The Gathering by Anne Enright thinking I was going to hate it, no, why mess about, I was going to absolutely loath it . . . The more I read the more I was dragged in kicking and screaming and made to stay . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/05/self_... Help by Edward Docx</a><br />
Self Help did not feel like a page-turner to me, more a slow burner of a book that gets under your skin and takes hold as you follow the undulating course of all these lives as they move towards an unexpected twist in the tale that I hadn't really seen coming . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/09/booke... by Nicola Barker</a><br />
For me Darkmans checks in as the ultimate latter-day social novel, reflecting like a multi-faceted crystal so many aspects of people's lives today and I suspect it's another of those love-hate books on the Booker longlist. I'm a fully paid-up member of The Loved Every Word Club . . .<br />
<br />
<strong>&nbsp;. . . And the rest of the Booker dozen</strong><br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/09/booke... by Nikita Lalwani</a><br />
Ultimately a sad book and a reflection of so much that can go so wrong with very clever children all bound up in the complexities of cross-cultural differences and the need to excel as a means of proving worth . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/08/booke... and Wolf by A N Wilson</a><br />
I have flogged and struggled and strained pitifully with every sinew to like this book, to tune into it, to bond with it and I'm floundering so much I'm going to stop . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/04/what_... Was Lost : Catherine O'Flynn</a><br />
Well this is indeed high quality writing and innovative plotting as the losses rack up and on just about every level from the physical tangible objects, to the people, to a way of life, to the basics of human existence. You can pick and choose and I suspect it would be possible to delve quite deeply into this book and emerge with a blueprint for life . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/08/on-ch... Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan</a><br />
I've just finished On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and I quite enjoyed it, in fact no, I really quite enjoyed it. On reflection I think it's the plethora of in-depth reviews that have put me off. That and opening it randomly in a bookshop and catching one or two lines completely out of context and being put right off my lunch . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/08/booke... Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid</a><br />
Last year The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud, this year The Reluctant Fundamentalist for the archetypal post 9/11 novel slot, because I assume this is now a genre of its own . . . A good read and a longlister worthy of inclusion . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/03/the_g... Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng</a><br />
I've finally finished The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng, another very enjoyable read from Myrmidon Books and unlike The Painted Messiah by Craig Smith this was not a book that I wanted to rush and nor would it be rushed . . .<br />
<br />
<a href="http://dovegreyreader.typepad.com/dovegreyreader_scribbles/2007/09/booke... by Michael Redhill</a><br />
Well yes, this certainly felt like a book of two halves and though I wasn't disappointed by the second half the pace certainly slowed as all the explanations for the first half were played out towards a twist that didn't have the impact with me that it should have done, I know why and perhaps you will spot it too when you read this one . . .</p>