For all sorts of reasons, I’m passionate about the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize. It’s not so much about the winning – in fact, I’ll be honest and say I can’t even name last year’s winner.* And I’m not really a big follower of book prizes in general – I do like the Costa Book Awards, sometimes the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, but I’m really far more likely to read the prize list of the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year awards than I am most books that make the Man Booker shortlist. But I do love Not the Booker because the books on their list are nominated and voted for by readers just like me.
OK, I’m not entirely wide-eyed and innocent, I know that some corporate shenanigans might just have crept in – but I think it’s pretty transparent when that’s happened, and I’m sure it’s equally so to the organisers. And I always think it’s a bit sad that self-published books can’t be included. But I do find it an immense thrill to work my way through my previous year’s reviews, first for a nomination, then for my two permitted votes on the long list, and finally to cast my final vote. But I suspect the thrill I get out of it is nothing compared with the joy experienced by the authors who discover that someone – hopefully several someones – has thought enough of their book to nominate, post a review or vote. Twitter is awash with authors saying “I don’t really have a chance of making the final cut” – but how wonderful that they just might!
I’ve already cast my votes on the long list – frustratingly limited to two, but that’s how it works. My votes this year were for the stunning Not Thomas by Sara Gethin (Honno Press – you can read my review again here) and the equally magnificent Sealskin by Su Bristow (Orenda Books – review here). If you haven’t read either yet… well, you have the most exquisite treats in store.
But I wanted to write this post today for two main reasons.
The first is an obvious one – to draw attention to the prize, and to urge everyone (should the spirit move you) to join in and cast your votes. But please, please read the rules – votes (allowed for two books) must be supported by a review of around 100 words for at least one of them. If you look through some of the votes cast, it’s immensely sad that so many will be discounted just because people haven’t read the instructions. Heavens, they’ve even provided a template for your votes. You’ll find everything you need to know HERE – and I hope you’ll enjoy being part of it as much as I always do. Voting closes at 23.59 BST on Monday 7th August.
The second is to share again my reviews of some of the other books I’ve read over the last year that have also made the long list. I so wish I could have voted for them all (I’m also rather sad that some personal favourites aren’t on the list at all), but sadly that’s not how the competition works. If you click on the book’s title, it’ll take you to my review – and the buying links will be in the original post.
There are many books on that long list that I really do wish I had read – and you’ll find reviews of many on the pages of my blogging friends. Many congratulations to everyone… and may the very best book win!
*Just in case you wanted to know, the 2016 winner was (of course) The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel – sadly still on my “must read” list a year later, but I can share the excellent interview she gave me…!