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Musing Monday: Awards

June 15, 2009

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about award winning books…

Do you feel compelled to read prize-winning (Giller, Booker, Pulitzer etc) books? Why, or why not? Is there, perhaps, one particular award that you favour? (question courtesy of MizB)

The answers already up at Musing Mondays lean towards the answer I would give.  It’s the book that matters, not the prize. When I run across an award list, I have fun looking for books I’ve already read, and using the others as a list of suggestions.  So it’s not that I’m determined to read award-winning books. It’s more that I see them as an excellent round-up of books that are similar to books I know I’ve liked.  Or books someone has judged to be well-crafted.

I see a difference sometimes, between liking a book and knowing that it’s well written, or that the story is well crafted.  There are some books where the story is harrowing or sad, about betrayal, violence, vividly written harsh realities.  Enjoyable, likeable to read?  Not always.  But, having read it, have I learned something, been affected, or even just seen sentences crafted in an elegant way that could, hopefully, influence my writing towards wider, better word choices?  I remember reading Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, in high school.  Terrible story of racial violence, descriptions so forthright and visually arresting that I kind of wanted to hold the book at the longest stretch of arm’s length, as a way to give myself emotional distance from what I was reading.  So: a brilliant book, one I’m glad I read- but the experience of reading it, not necessarily enjoyable.  More, appreciated.

Award-winners I’m usually sure I’m going to like? Mysteries.  As Dad observed, last time we went to Partners and Crime, there seem to be an infinite number of mystery awards.  Particularly British mystery awards.  The crowded shelves of Partners and Crime attest: there are a lot of mysteries out there.  And some of them are stunningly badly written, plots seemingly thrown together with duct tape, dust bunnies and cheap prose.  So the award list makes a very good guide to unfamiliar books and authors.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2009 7:47 am

    Great answer! I agree that it depends so much on the book itself.

  2. June 15, 2009 8:28 am

    I think I ought to check out the mystery awards. That should work fine!

    Mondays: Musings/Mailbox/whereabouts

  3. June 15, 2009 9:36 am

    I just don’t pay attention to prizes. My post is up. Also, I started a book discussion forum on my blog! I hope you’ll join.

  4. June 17, 2009 5:39 am

    Thanks for popping by to my blog!

    I agree great answer, if we want to read them, we will — prize-winners or not.

    Take care,


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