Being Anne: Thoughts on the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize…

By | August 2, 2017

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.

Dark Water by Sara Bailey (Nightingale Editions)

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (Penguin)

The Other Twin by LV Hay (Orenda)

At First Light by Vanessa Lafaye (Orion)

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull (Hodder & Stoughton)

Skin Deep by Laura Wilkinson (Accent Press)

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…!

12 thoughts on “Being Anne: Thoughts on the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize…

  1. BiblioManiac

    Brilliant post Anne thank you! Great to draw attention to this prize and the books as well as seeing your choices and reviews again! Thank you!

    1. Anne Post author

      Thanks for the lovely comment Katherine! Hope you’ve voted…?

  2. Sue Featherstone

    Thanks Anne: this has been on my radar but your prompt to vote is very timely. x

  3. Short Book and Scribes

    Off to have a look at this. I must admit to having a quick look the other day and being a bit overwhelmed by the instructions and the volume of nominees though. Must try harder!

    1. Anne Post author

      The bit I like best in the guidance is “Please just make it look like you care”. Knowing your great reviews, I’m sure you’ll have no problem with that one ? x

      1. Short Book and Scribes

        Aw, thank you, Anne. There aren’t that many that I’ve actually read on the list so that’s not now the hard bit. The hard bit is deciding between them 🙁

  4. Helena Fairfax

    Really enjoyed your post, Anne. There is a great selection of books on this longlist. Many of the ones you mention are on my tbr. I voted for Skin Deep, but I also love your choices. I agree with the above comment – the hard bit is choosing just two!

  5. Sara Gethin

    Thank you for this great post, Anne – and also for nominating and voting for my little ‘Not Thomas’. I’m so proud and honoured you felt it deserved to be on the list.

    Yes, it’s such a shame that a few people forget to read the rules first – I’ve had four lovely, precious votes that I think won’t count in the final tally. Thankfully though, I’ve also had some votes that will definitely count, but by my reckoning a book needs around 100 votes to get through to the shortlist.
    That’s quite a mountain to climb!

    Anyway, good luck to every other author (all 179) on the longlist – and especially to Su Bristow, a wonderful choice by you. I loved ‘Skin Deep’ by Laura Wilkinson too, and she’ll be getting my vote.

    Thanks again, Anne. You’ve certainly made the start of August exceptionally exciting for me and little Tomos.

    Love, Sara x

  6. Ali - The Dragon Slayer

    Thanks for this great post Anne .. I have also voted for Not Thomas 🙂 and also The Other Twin .. two very different books but both worthy of recognition xx

  7. Wendy Janes

    Great post, Anne. What an amazing list. I really need to get my act together and get voting.

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