This little African stool was George's before I knew him. I didn't think of stacking books on top of it, but it was a good idea. The content, and the location, have evolved. Last summer and fall the stool was stacked with the nominees for the 2017 Booker Prize, and they were removed as they were read. Paul Auster's 4321 is the only remaining book on the short list I have not gotten to, although there are actually three additional books from the 2017 longlist that I still haven't read, and still intend to read. I hope to do better this year.
Currently the stack contains the Booker winners from the past 5 years, plus the aforementioned 4321. I have not read them all, although I hope to do so. I also hope to read this year's longlist. I accept that although I may well read all these books, I may not do so in a timely fashion. Still, it costs me no more to hope.
The 2018 longlist was announced yesterday. The collage shown above was taken from The Telegraph, here. Of these books, I have already read Warlight, and I have a copy of the Overstory on my stack, just waiting for a little post-move defragmentation and a hoped for increase in my ability to concentrate. I've been of mixed minds about The Mars Room, but accept that I will indeed read it. In fact there are a couple of novels I would probably never have chosen to read were they not on the list, and so I shall be thankful in advance for expanded horizons.
But there are very few Booker-nominated books I have felt were a waste of time, and some have completely entranced or changed my way of thinking. The Sellout was one of those books and, in fact, it was a difficult read. Initially I was simply shocked and dismayed, but the novel won me over, and showed me a new way of looking at a culture, at people's hearts, and through the novel, at myself and my own assumptions.
But of course that is what fiction does. it doesn't have to be literary fiction. Three of my favorite books last year were on the short list for the Man Booker, and I probably would not have read two of them were it not for that list. My other favorite books were by Louise Penny; I don't consider them inferior, just different. In fact books chosen for the Booker Prize may not be better, just different. There is room for all kinds of books in the world, just as there are all kinds of readers. C.S. Lewis said something along the lines of: "there are no bad books, only poor readers", and I tend to think there is a lot of wisdom in that statement. That line has been running around in my head a lot this year, as has Abraham Rothberg's statement that "fiction is a lie that tells the truth". Lies are lies, except when they are not. The truth is the truth, except when it is not. I better not let my poor brain spin in circles.
Better, I think, to start looking for books. Last year, most books on the list were not available at my local library. I don't suppose this year will be much different.