Wednesday, 11 October 2006

The Award-Winning Book Bandwagonist

Sharon posted this little news on Kiran Desai winning the 2006 Man Booker Award for The Inheritance of Loss (I kinda like the title), and some of the commenters were talking about how they tend to buy award-winning books because of the hype.

That got me thinking. How many books do I have that I bought just because they won awards, and how many have I actually READ? I have to admit that fantasy novels aside, I rarely buy litetary novels or even general fiction, for that matter. However, I DO have a score of unread books that I'd bought just because they won awards, and/or was recommended to by more er.. literaturely-inclined friends.

Stuff like:

  • Soul Mountain (Gao Xing Jian) - I actually have both the English AND the Chinese version. Don't ask me to read the Chinese one though. The English one gives me enough of a headache as it is
  • The Life of Pi (Yann Martel) - Based on the feedback from peopel who've read it, you'll either love it or hate it. Personally, I haven't bothered to read it yet. Will probably get to it soon though, right after I finish Gaiman, Lawhead, Moers and Pratchett...
  • A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth) - It's been sitting on my shelf for a few years untouched now because I couldn't get past the first three pages... the mere thought of ploughing through the 1300+ pages makes my head spin...
  • True History of the Kelly Gang (Peter Carey) - I haven't even opened the damn book since I bought it from PayLess for RM9.90... Somehow the book cover reminds me of that interesting but unbeliveably depressing Angela's Ashes (which I also bought and read because it won an award. Sucker betul.)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon) - Ok, I admit I completely forgot I even had this book until I was sorting out my bookshelf in the weekend. And now that I've found it, I'll probably be reading it soon... I'm a sucker for weird book titles after all...
  • White Teeth (Zadie Smith) - Someone gave this to me years ago when I was on a cheap paperback book buying spree and told me, 'YOU HAVE TO READ THIS'. I put it on the booshelf and within a week or so, it got buried by 20 or so Marion Zimmer Bradley and Terry Brooks paperbacks I'd bought from Payless and was promptly forgotten about.

So I'm an award-winning book bandwagonist. So sue me.

To tell the truth, the only award-winning books I've actually bought, read and liked that I can name off the top of my head are Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie), Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri) and Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides).

Maybe I'll eventually get to reading those other unread award-winning books. Maybe I won't. As of now, all they are doing in my house right now is sit on my bookshelf and conning visitors into thinking I'm damn intellectual (well, at least until they see my Transformers comics....)

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