Is there such a thing as a good book – or are all judgements totally subjective? This is the perennial cry whenever Book Prizes are discussed and a recent discussion at Portsmouth University was no exception. I was on a panel with Truda Spruyt from The Book PR people Colman Getty who promote the Booker prize and Claire Shanahan from the book charity Booktrust that amongst other things administers prizes. The answer of course is there are books that do some things well and some things badly – so first pick your criteria – whether it be narrative drive, beautiful prose, new horizons or anything else and judge accordingly. There seems little doubt that the judges this year got most things right with Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk sweeping the board in the nonfiction categories of the big prizes and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, a popular winner of the Booker.
Apologies for the lack of a blog in recent weeks with the website requiring a complete overhaul. There have been lots of good books that have gone by without comment…. Recent top reads include A Spool of Blue Thread by the venerable Anne Tyler, her 19th novel and still going strong, The Skeleton Cupboard by clinical psychologist Tanya Byron which details the travails of her struggle during an arduous traineeship. I am currently loving the new Kate Atkinson A God In Ruins due out in May.