5 Reasons to be cheerful

sundaysalonI’m often guilty of using this site to grumble so I thought I’d change tack and for share some positive news for once. Actually I have several things to feel cheerful about.

1. Awards. Justice at last for Jim Crace whose novel Harvest should have won the 2013 Booker Award because it was simply outstanding and far, far superior to the other shortlisted titles.  I was delighted to see this week’s announcement declaring this book the winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. It’s a recognition that is long overdue. If you don’t know this novel, take a look at my review 

2. Acquisitions. Two of my library reservations came through yesterday. Just in time because I was on the final few pages of Ghost Road by Pat Barker which I didn’t enjoy particularly.  I now have The World of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson to look forward to opening tonight. This is the second book by her which features Thomas Hawkins, a young ne’er-do-well in seventeenth century England who somehow can’t help getting involved in events which threaten his life. Her debut novel The Devil in the Marshalsea which I read just last month was so good I was delighted to find her follow up was just out.  The World of Thomas Hawkins is a sequel to The Devil in the Marshalsea but the publishers say it can also be read as a standalone historical mystery.

Here’s the blurb from the publishers Hodder & Stoughton:

Spring, 1728. A young, well-dressed man is dragged through the streets of London to the gallows at Tyburn. The crowds jeer and curse as he passes, calling him a murderer. He tries to remain calm. His name is Tom Hawkins and he is innocent. Somehow he has to prove it, before the rope squeezes the life out of him.

Doesn’t that just want to make you open the book immediately?? For me yes, but then I also collected another novel which I’ve had my eye on for some time. A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar, is a novel about revenge and redemption, that was named this week as a winner of a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. The UK publishers Hodder & Stoughton describe it as:

Deep in the heart of history’s most infamous concentration camp, a man lies dreaming. His name is Shomer, and before the war he was a pulp fiction author. Now, to escape the brutal reality of life in Auschwitz, Shomer spends his nights imagining another world – a world where a disgraced former dictator now known only as Wolf ekes out a miserable existence as a low-rent PI in London’s grimiest streets.

The subject matter will not make this a comfortable read I’m sure but it’s such an interesting premise that I’m looking forward to getting stuck in soon.

3. Progress. Although I’ve weened myself off doing challenges for the last few years, I still have a few reading projects underway.  While I haven’t made any conscious effort to make progress on them it seems I’m further ahead than I would have expected. With the completion of The Ghost Road, I find I’ve read 25 of the 47 Booker Prize titles on my list so well over the half way stage. I’m also exactly half way through my Classics Club project with just over two and half years left to read the remaining 25 novels. And I’m bang on target with the TBR Challenge run by Roof Beam Reader which is the one and only ‘challenge’ I’m doing this year. Usually I’m moaning that I’m behind schedule with my reading so it makes it a pleasant surprise to be right where I want to be.

4. Unplanned reading. A couple of months ago I decided that if I wanted to preserve my sanity I needed to stop creating reading schedules. I was spending too much time fretting about the fact that if I didn’t read book X then I’d be behind with my world literature project and if I didn’t read book Y I’d be late in delivering a review of an ARC.  Reading stops being fun when you’re having to read a particular book or following a prescribed schedule. So instead I just adopted the behaviour of picking up whatever book was on the top of the two piles nearest to hand – one is my TBR challenge listed books and the other is a motley collection of classics and Booker prizes. And if I don’t fancy what my hand rests on, then I just scan the vast number of titles yet unread in the bookshelf.  Hassle free reading is much more delightful than scheduled reading.

5. Library news. Progress this week on the campaign in which I’m involved to save our local library. A High Court judge has ordered our local authority to respond to our complaint within one week. We’ll then have a further week to make our own responses before the judge will rule if there is a case that needs to be heard. So though we’re not yet claiming victory, it’s at least some positive news.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on June 21, 2015, in Classics Club, IMPAC Dublin Award, Jerwood Fiction Uncovered, Sunday Salon and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. I keep my fingers crossed that your library campaign is successful. I’m hoping for more cheerful news.

  2. Good luck with your library support campaign, its too sad when these things happen, you can all make a difference I am sure, I hope you succeed.

  3. Sounds like you’ve made some really healthy decisions about books and reading. I too am weaning myself from challenges that just increase my stress and diminish the joy of reading. Because i rarely buy books my TBR pile is mostly virtual so I am constantly having to evaluate what to read next by what I place on hold at the library and when those books come in. sometimes I have five books arrive at once. Grr.r.r. and other times I am waiting, waiting, waiting. Lucky for m I am a high school librarian so I can just go and snag a book off the shelf. Happy reading.
    My Sunday Salon

    • Isn’t that maddening when the reserves all arrive at once. I got too carried away with reservations last week never thinking they would come through so fast.

  4. I haven’t noticed any grumbling.

    Anyway it’s always nice when the library comes through with books you want to read.

  5. I was so pleased about ‘Harvest’ which, as you know, I thought should have won the Booker that year. The Bears felt it was worth a celebration, so much cake was eaten!

  6. Glad that Jim Crace won that award I hadn’t heard that. I very much enjoyed Harvest when I read it last year it is a novel that has really stayed with me which is a sign of excellent writing. It is perhaps only in retrospect that I realise how very very good that novel was.

    • It’s so hard keeping up with all these awards Ali, I often miss the announcements. Your reaction to Harvest was mine also – the atmosphere and the voice just linger a long time.

  7. There are so many interesting looking books on the Fiction Uncovered Prize. Can’t wait to hear what you think of A Man Lies Dreaming. I also must borrow Harvest from my mother – I know she has it.
    Good luck with the library project. I hope you succeed!

  8. No 5. Wow. Good for you. Good luck. No 1. I have only read one Jim Crace book but that one I’ve read twice because I loved it. I must read more. As for No 4. Yes. And that’s all I have time for now, but I did enjoy this post.

  9. Yep. It’s easy to grumble on the blog. I know it, but it’s also good to highlight the positives too, and it looks like you have a lot to be cheerful for. I especially like the unplanned reading. It’s how I mostly operate with my reading…

    • I had you in mind when I made my decision to go down the unplanned route Bryan. You’d said last year I think that you had given planned reading a kick into touch so I thought, well if you can do it, I bet I can too

  10. These are some great reasons to be happy 🙂

We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: