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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't normally buy books shortlisted for big awards but have always wondered if I should as I have friends who get all the ones shortlisted for the biggies. So this year I did start getting all the shortlisted titles from the Man Booker. I really enjoyed Alison Moore's The Lighthouse Loved it really. I got stuck on Will Self's Umbrella which I can see is very good, but such hard going and it was depressing me. Now I'm on Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall: A Novel which I thought I should read first before moving onto the Booker winner Bring Up the Bodies. Well, I think she won with both. I did expect more from the Hilary Mantel. It's ok but I thought I was going to find novels that really let me see something spectacular that won the judges over.

Do you get influenced by big awards to buy the shortlisted books? Perhaps I should have been more original and read all the books by new names that had got through to the shortlist. If Tan Twan Eng is as good as Alison Moore it would have been worth it. ;)
 

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I'll look at awards lists mainly because they usually have books on them that I've never heard of.  I don't buy them because of that; they then go through my usual vetting process.  Most of the time they're above my price point, but if they then sound interesting, I'll put them on my wish list.  At which I point I forget why I put them on the list.

Betsy
 

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The Booker prize is a major British literary award.  Short listed is basically nominated -- there could be a few or a dozen.
 

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I definitely take notice of Nobels, Pulitzers, Bookers and the (now renamed) Orange prize, but won't necessarily buy because of them. Locally I tend to use awards as a gauge when buying new children's books by authors I might not otherwise know.

There are just so many awards out there now that some of the smaller ones just feel a bit meaningless--it feels like we're trying to be egalitarian by giving every author ever an award!
 

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I definitely read the final one...!
 

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I often pick up books qualifying for the Auroras (Canadian SF&F award). Then, pick up a few more when it's time to vote from the nominated list. That's about the only award I care about TBH, since it's books I love and authors I enjoy reading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm not the only one who hasn't been influenced by book awards then. I always wonder about this because I've always been such a booklover and yet I don't take much notice of them. I'm starting to, but if the winners are disappointing like Mantel I'll stop. I have always liked the Orange Prize, though. I think it's now called the Women's Writing Awards. They concentrate on novels by women and have shortlisted and awarded the prize to some fantastic writers.

It's interesting the biggest awards aren't really as well known as I thought in other countries. The Booker is the huge one here - that would be like the Pulitzer in the US I suppose. Then we also have the Costa and the newly named Orange/Women's Writing Awards.
 

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I do look at the Bookers but don't tend to pay attention to other awards. Some of my favorite books have been shorlisted or won the Booker (The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Schinder's Ark(List), The Handmaid's Tale...) as well as many other books I have enjoyed. That doesn't mean I read the book just because it has been shortlisted or won the Booker. But it does mean I will find out more about the book and will often buy and enjoy the book.
 

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No, I don't really consider the book awards, in much the same way that I don't go out of my way to watch a movie just because it was nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globes. However, if I'm already considering a book anyway, and I see that it won a book award that I've heard of, then it might push me over the edge to make the purchase.
 

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I almost never read books nominated for awards. I made an exception with Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall because I am interested in the career of Thomas Cromwell but it just confirmed that I was right. I found Wolf Hall very disappointing. It's well written but almost nothing happens! I kept waiting for the plot to unfold. Having said that, curiosity alone will probably persuade me to at least look at Bring up the Bodies.

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh no! Don't tell me nothing happens in Wolf Hall. I was hoping it might at least be a good plot. I find it badly written and badly edited. Mantel keeps calling everybody 'he' in scenes where there's more than one man, so we have no idea who 'he' is, although the author can imagine it. An editor normally picks that out and adds a few names here and there to make it clear. Cromwell moves from being a boy in the first chapter to a man of 40 in the second and we only find that out at the end of the chapter so I thought he was in his first job and quite a young man. The author knew, and historians probably knew, but I didn't. I like to read historical fiction to find out about history as I didn't study it so I am enjoying it for that, but it's very flawed and in constant, irritating ways. Most big publishers do edit better, contrary to rumour. I find Simon and Schuster novels very well edited for example, so it isn't a case of this being a dumbing down of editing. I sometimes wonder if editors respect the very big name authors too much and don't change the sentences, but the kind of thing I've pointed out could even be done by a proofreader without annoying an author.
 

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I don't actively go about looking for nominated/awarded books for any award, but sometimes stumble across an article mentioning some such award that piques my interest, at which point I might look further into the mentioned books to see if anything looks good. The most likely culprits for me would be the Nebula or Hugo awards (SF/Fantasy). I once saw something or other about the Booker nominees a year or two ago, looked through them, sampled one, and couldn't even finish the sample -- but then "literary fiction" (from the Department of Redundancy Department, or, "Is everything else illiterate fiction?") seldom appeals to me, it seems.
 

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I pay no attention to literary awards because the majority of the books I've enjoyed reading aren't mainstream enough to win them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Non-mainstream books do get shortlisted. With the Booker this year, Will Self's Umbrella and Alison Moore's The Lighthouse are both very unusual books, and The Lighthouse is from a small publisher.

I was surprised to see Jenni Fagan's The Panopticon chosen by Waterstones, our main bookshop chain, in its 'Top 11 books most likely to be named in major literary awards'. It's definitely not mainstream. Probably one of the most shocking books I've read for a long time. It was good to see a major publisher would take such a risk on a debut novelist and that Waterstones would select it. I don't know how readers have responded to it.

The Orange Prize has always had unusual books and has discovered unknown authors. It's a pity Orange stopped sponsoring it, but it's still going as the Women's Writing Awards.
 

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hs said:
No, I don't really consider the book awards, in much the same way that I don't go out of my way to watch a movie just because it was nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globes.
So much this! I generally will consider something first, based upon how my music, film, or book-savvy friends with similar tastes reacted to it, and secondly, whether or not I'd find it generally appealing.

I mean, the absolute last thing I'd ever consider is popular press and/or an award show; because really, wouldn't you expect me to give myself first place in a "smartest, sexiest, strongest person I know" award? ;)
 
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