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Reading the Winners

By Sue Smith

This book club blog is being created to develop a forum for information about books. If you’ve got a comment or some books to share, please post back.

How often do we go into a book shop and find ourselves faced with an unfathomable amount of choice? Given the vast numbers of books published each year, and the cost of books, especially here in Hong Kong, what are some of the trusted ways of picking a book that you will enjoy, rather one that leaves you thinking you’ve been wasting your time and your money?

Of course, you can choose a novel written by a writer you’ve read and enjoyed before.  But this is a bit limiting as it doesn’t introduce you to new writers.  You can do research about different books online and in a future blog post I’d be happy to share some of my favorite websites for finding out about books.

I often check the long and short lists of well known literary prizes and read some of the comments written about those books.  I’ve found this to be a great way of finding out about new books and new writers.

There are a number of well-known literary prizes – The Man Booker Prize, The Orange Prize, The Pulitzer Prize, The Costa Prize.  I’ve recently come across a few others as well – The Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, The Giller Prize.  And there are prizes for specific genres of writing too.

These prizes generally name a long-list of contenders, followed some weeks or months later by a short-list.  Finally there is an announcement of the winner.

If you familiarize yourself with the eligibility for the different prizes there might be a particular prize that you become interested in. It is possible to find out about long-lists, short-lists and previous winners from the website dedicated to the prize in question. It is even possible to set email alerts so you are notified when the release dates approach.

So next time you are in a book shop and faced with a large choice of new books and no idea where to start, look for a shelf containing prize winners.  This might help.

Dulwich College Singapore

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