Halfway Through The Reading Year…

As July is now upon us (already, the sneaky thing) we are half way through the year and that of course means roughly halfway through all the books that we will read in 2012. I like to use this time to take stock of what I have read so far (my top ten of the year so far will appear on Saturday) and what I might want to make sure I read over the next sixth months.

The thing is I am now throwing myself into reading the submissions for The Green Carnation Prize which I think deserves a lovely picture of all the judges when we met a few weeks ago for the first time…

The Green Carnation Judges 2012; Dom Agius, Me, Katie Allen, Catherine Hall & Rodney Troubridge

Anyway, all these submissions (and there are a lot) means that until the end of August my reading will be limited. Here I need your advice… Should I review the books that are submitted on here, because after all my opinion is only one in five and I am not the chair this year so I could easily be out voted etc, etc? I would like to review what I am reading as I read but maybe if I don’t announce they are submissions that is ok? Or should I not mention these and just review some of the books (which will probably be short literary novellas, old gems and crime capers/thrillers) I read in between instead?

So could I please have your advice on the situation? Oh, and could you tell me what some of your favourite reads have been this year so far, just because I am nosey. Thanks.



Filed under Random Savidgeness

24 responses to “Halfway Through The Reading Year…

  1. Would it be better to review them but hold off posting until after the winner has been chosen?

    • I am actually doing just that Vivienne, every time I finish one I review it as I would normally but I am stockpiling them, I already have a fair few reviews for December after the announcement lol.

  2. sharkell

    This is a really difficult one and I am struggling with it as you obviously are. I love to read what you are reading when you have just finished. There’s something about the immediacy that appeals to me. And I’m sure you get that same satisfaction, almost like signing off on the book? But, I don’t know how I’d feel if I was an author and had submitted an entry for the competition and then read that you hadn’t liked it, knowing you were a judge and all, before the competition has been decided. I’m probably tending to side with vivienne, review them but don’t post them until after the winner has been chosen. It would mean that your blog is a bit slow but we can wear that, for a little while, anyway.

    And great reads so far this year – , All That I Am by Anna Funder, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWhitt and a few from your list – Half Blood Blues, Gillespie and I, Me Before You and The Snow Child. I hadn’t realised until I was drafting this how many books I’ve picked up based on your recommendations! I’ve almost finished reading Dogside Story by Patricia Grace which I am reading as part of AnzLitLovers Indigenous Literature Week and I’ll add this to the list of great reads too.

    • Ha, I am sure they weren’t just picked up on my recommendations, but that is lovely to hear. And they are some of my favourite books so it looks like I should be reading the ones you have recommended that I haven’t read yet as we may have similar tastes. Hoorah!

  3. David

    Hmm, a tricky one. I’m inclined to agree with vivienne and Sharkell: save the reviews for later. Much as I’d love to know what you think about the books as you’re reading them, I also think back to Susan Hill’s approach to judging the Booker last year – I know she didn’t review the submissions, but all that public hint-dropping seemed a bit, well, wrong.

    Reads of the year so far? Well, I’m currently on my 90th book of 2012 which is quite an achievement for me! I’ve finally got around to reading Alex Miller this year, having had a couple of his books on my shelves for years, and he is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite authors – ‘Journey to the Stone Country’, ‘Conditions of Faith’ and ‘Landscape of Farewell’ are all likely to feature on my end of year top ten, never mind half-year.

    Other favourites from the first six months, mostly new releases:
    Ben Fountain – ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’
    Elliot Perlman – ‘The Street Sweeper’
    Richard Wagamese – ‘Indian Horse’
    Ronan Bennett – ‘The Catastrophist’
    Daniel Griffin – ‘Stopping for Strangers’ (short stories)
    J. Jill Robinson – ‘More in Anger’
    Hilary Mantel – ‘Bring Up The Bodies’
    Dana Spiotta – ‘Stone Arabia’

    That’s 11 isn’t it, not 10? Oh well… all of them were fantastic.

  4. I guess I would be a little less cautious and maybe review the ones I was rooting for? After all, it would be unfair to review a book you didn’t love ahead of any shortlist and bring it to people’s attention while being critical… but if you were to write about something you loved that you just happened to discover as part of the reading of submissions, well it benefits your readers, the author and does no harm to the prize itself by showcasing the quality of submissions. 🙂

    • Last year, which I don’t think anyone has spotted, I raved about Catherine Hall’s ‘The Proof of Love’ before it won, but that was because I had loved it yet had no idea that it was going to be submitted. I am currently in almost the same position with a book I have utterly utterly loved and want to tell everyone about but I have a feeling it might be submitted in due course. Eek!

  5. rosario001

    Waiting to post the reviews sounds like the best solution to me!

    My best reads of the year so far:
    – We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver (watching the fantastic film last year made me want to read the book, and it was even better),
    – The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
    -I Knew You’d Be Lovely, by Alethea Black (a collection of the most charming, beautiful, short stories I’ve ever read)
    – Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
    – Dark Matter, by Michelle Paver (although it scared me half to death)
    – The Report, by Jessica Francis Kane
    – Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (much as I find the author’s opinions repugnant, the book is excellent. At least I borrowed it from a friend, so I’m not giving him any money).
    – The first 4 books in PJ Tracy’s mystery series (probably my favourite ongoing series these days)
    – Into The Darkest Corner, by Elizabeth Haynes (for a brilliant portrayal of OCD).

    I also loved a few romance novels just as much, but they’re probably not the type of books visitors here would be interested in!

    • Oooh some books I haven’t yet read but have been meaning too here alongside some that I have read and have loved which gives promise taht i should enjoy the ones on my TBR – yippee.

  6. I haven’t had quite as good a reading year as I did last year, but favourite so far is probably Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson, or More Women Than Men by Ivy Compton-Burnett.

    • I think my reading year sounds a little bit like yours this year Simon, I have read some corking books but I wanted to be more focused with my reading this year and haven’t been.

  7. Yeah I agree with the above commenters, it’s a difficult one, but I think it’s probably not great to review something you disliked before the competition winner is announced.
    I’ve read 47 books so far this year, that’s almost as many as I read in the whole year last year, so I’m pleased.
    I’ve especially loved:
    Dark Matter – Michelle Paver
    Why be Happy When you Could be Normal? – Jeanette Winterson
    The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore
    The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
    The last two were read on your recommendation, so thanks!

  8. gaskella

    I can’t decide – what do your fellow judges think?

    My faves so far this year are: The Snow Child, some classic noir – The Killer inside me by Jim THompson, Jeanette Winterson’s memoir, plus BERYL!!!

  9. Barbara in southern California

    These are my favorites so far this year:
    – In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson
    – The Edge by Dick Francis (there’s hardly a story of his I don’t like)
    – Til Death by Ed McBain
    – Ax by Ed McBain
    – Doll by Ed McBain (all small in length but McBain is the BEST in
    police procedurals and dialogue)
    – The Paper Dragon by Evan Hunter (AKA Ed McBain). The whole
    story is a court trial in a most unusual way. Great.
    – The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle (fantastic writer)

  10. Marte

    I’ve read 94 books so far this year, and my favourites are:

    Madeline Miller – The song of Achilles
    Claire Keegan – Antarctica (short stories)
    Dorothy Whipple – Someone at a distance
    Jane Harris – Gillespie and I
    Owen Sheers – White Ravens (New stories from the Mabinogion)
    Ali Smith – There but for the
    Mark Dunn – Ella Minnow Pea
    Sarah Salway – You do not need another self-help book (poems)
    Edward St Aubyn – Mother’s milk
    Susanna Kearsley – The rose garden
    Erin Morgenstern – The night circus
    Lucy Wood – Diving belles (short stories)
    George R.R. Martin – A dance with dragons
    S.J. Watson – Before I go to sleep
    Christopher Reid – A scattering (poems)
    Helen Simonson – Major Pettigrew’s last stand

    Plus some excellent Norwegian books which are not available in English unfortunately.

    • Oooh again some books that I have loved mingled with some books I have been meaning to read. Interesting and fills me with hope. Also, which I love, some books I haven’t heard of and want to find more out about.

  11. cbjamess

    I was a judge for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week awards last year and so wanted to publish my thoughts about the blogs I judged and to write about the experience in general. But, I also thought it would be wrong of me to do so, certainly during the competition itself, definitely before the winners were announced. In the end I waited several months before publishing anything about how I judged the books and when I did I was very careful to make sure no blogger would see their own blog in my comments.

    For this situation, I think I would do the same. Judges should really keep their deliberations to themselves in my view. Unless there are rules that say otherwise; are there rules about this? I think literary prize winners should be announced without comment, then readers can celebrate, complain, wonder, or scream in rage whatever reaction is must called for.

    That’s part of the fun.

    If I were you, I’d wait a while before publishing my reviews so they can be seen as reviews instead of as the reviews of a judge.

  12. cbjamess

    I forgot….

    HHhH by Laurent Binet is the best thing I’ve read in quite some time.

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