Booker challenge: Time to start

Having been somewhat overwhelmed with the Booker challenge I set for myself, I have been procrastinating with the start of it. I have been finishing off books I’ve borrowed from others, keeping up with my book club reads, continually buying more books to fill my shelves, and starting other random books just to avoid commencing this mammoth task after I did the maths all those weeks ago. What scared me is that the projection of 21 years to complete the task was generous, and assumed no more Booker shortlists, ever. We know that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

So, yesterday, I thought I would finally tackle this thing head on. I loaded up my library search page, and thought I’d start looking for books from the 1969 shortlist. I hit a giant snag – not a single book found. My library is part of the One Card network, which means you can search for a book and it’ll look at catalogues from any of the South Australian public libraries on the network, and you can then get the book delivered to your local library. Well, that sucked… These are the books from the 1969 shortlist I need to try and find elsewhere:

  • Something to Answer For by PH Newby (Winner)
  • Figures in a Landscape by Barry England
  • The Impossible Object by Nicholas Moseley
  • The Nice and the Good by Iris Murdoch
  • The Public Image by Muriel Spark
  • From Scenes Like These by GM Williams

So, I moved on to the 1970 shortlist, but again got a bit disheartened when the winner in 1970, The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens, could not be found. I might have sworn a bit… I kept searching down the list and finally found one I could get delivered to my local library so I could make a start – Eva Trout by Elizabeth Bowen. All this time, I thought the actual reading of all these books would be the hard part. I didn’t even consider that it might be difficult to find them. Oh well, I’ll just get as many off the list as I can and read the majority, then try and locate the remainder later (in about 20 years time, I suspect).

I have also gone on a bit of a shopping spree lately, thanks to a sale at Book Depository and also the excellent books I keep finding at Adelaide’s Pop-up Bookshop. On top of that, it was my birthday yesterday and books are, understandably, a popular gift choice. I am told there are still some on their way to me, so I am yet to update my books-to-be-read-from-my-bookshelves tally. These are all distractions from my challenge! But getting back to this Booker challenge, the books I have already read off the Booker shortlist are:

  • True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2001 Winner)
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001 shortlist)
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2002 Winner)
  • A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (2008 shortlist)
  • In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut (2010 shortlist)

The challenge has already improved! Originally I thought I’d only read 4 off the list but turns out I’ve read 5 now I’ve done a recount. 250 to go (plus however many they shortlist in the meantime)!

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