Why madness? Because I've no deep and meaningful reason to do this ... other than I plain want to! My TBR list is already well out of control and I'm part of a book club where I get to choose no more than two books a year. Anyone sensible would be raising their eyebrows at the idiotic thought of adding an extra 6-13 books every summer. Entirely sensible (one would think) to read the books over the course of the year, but to impose a deadline too ... the bunny is clearly a tad bonkers. Especially as I'm doing this, well just because ...
There was a rational reason when I started this, but - like most daft projects - that's been lost along the way. Now it's all about the challenge. For the last two years, I've managed to read the complete shortlist and each year have read a number from the longlist. Because I'm bonkers, it remains a matter of regret that I've not - yet - managed the complete thirteen. So, this year, I've not wasted even one single day. The first off the longlist was loaded onto my kindle the day the list was announced and I started reading it before going to sleep that same night.
But what of the list itself - what is there to look forward to?
I noticed two immediate positives over last year. Firstly, only the Cotzee isn't immediately available, so my choice isn't limited till later. Secondly, there seem to be a goodly number of shorter books - two at under 200 pages and six at under 300 pages, with only one over 500. Last year, two of the shortlist, both of which were among the favourites, came in at over 700 pages. This last observation makes me feel that if I don't manage to read the full longlist this year, it's unlikely I will ever achieve it.
One negative - for me - is the limited country of origin of the authors, in particular the lack of authors from the Commonwealth. For me, the commonwealth voices gave this prize its unique feel and this year we have authors from only the UK, the US, South Africa and Canada.
And finally, the vast majority of authors is new to me; indeed, there is a decided absence of "the usual suspects". Clearly whether this falls on to the side of negative or positive is yet to be seen.
The first off the list to catch my eye was David Means' first novel "Hystopia". The synopsis mentions JFK, the establishment of a Psych Corp to ensure the mental health of the nation, Vietnam veterens and trauma. I've no idea if it's odd that this combination should tickle my fancy, but every aspect ticks a specific interest of mine; so it was certainly an easy selection with which to start my readathon.
What are your thoughts on this year's list? Are there stand-out contenders already? Any that you are particularly looking forward to reading?