2015 Judges discuss longlist

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What’s it been like having to read so many books in such a short space of time? 

It’s been an intense emotional and intellectual adventure, reading so many books in such a concentrated period and a huge treat to have “permission” to do so.

Have there been any surprises along the way?

I’ve been surprised by finding real treasure in types and genres of books that I might normally not venture into.

What’s the best book you’ve ever been given, and who gave it to you?

I’ve been given so many wonderful books over the years but I’ll never forget the first giant book of fairy tales that my parents gave me as a small child.

 

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What’s it been like having to read so many books in such a short space of time? 

Quite a strange, new experience for me – I have found that reading so many books so close together has forced them into sharper relief and made the elements which are unusual or surprising stand out more clearly from the crowd. It has also allowed me to appreciate the themes that unite so many of the books, from exploring mental health to the impact of domestic abuse. 

Have you always loved reading?

Yes, very much. I was a voracious reader as a child and devoured young adult fiction.

Was there one particular book that gave you the reading bug?

Everything by Malorie Blackman!

 

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Have there been any surprises in reading so many books in such a short space of time?

I found one book that I believed to be the winner, after about 1 week of reading. Obviously that’s just my opinion and we’ve got a long way to go. But I was shocked how confident and passionate about its success I felt.

Was there one particular book that gave you the reading bug?

I remember getting hold of a very tattered copy of that rather sexy, feminist rite de passage Kinflicks by Lisa Alther when I was about 11. I think at this point I realised that women’s fiction could be rather eye-opening.

Do you have a favourite book by a female author that you’ve given to friends and family as a gift?

You can’t go wrong with The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford. It’s accessible and beautifully pithy from the get go.

 

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How have you found the experience of reading women’s fiction back to back for the past few months?

What I enjoyed most was that were so many genres, voices, styles and subjects.  I like the shock of the new, and it’s exhilarating to see how wide is the span of fiction by women.

Have there been any surprises along the way?

Yes, two of the books I liked most were complete surprises in the best possible way: I didn’t know the authors’ work beforehand and was captivated.

Have you always loved reading?  

Fortunately, yes.

 

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How have you found the experience of reading women’s fiction back to back for the past few months?

It’s been intense, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve loved getting stuck into so many brilliant books by women from a vast array of different countries, cultures and backgrounds. The standard is incredibly high, so women’s fiction is clearly thriving.

Have there been any surprises along the way?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ve surprised myself in liking certain genres I didn’t expect to.

What’s the best book you’ve ever been given, and who gave it to you?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. My husband John bought it for me when we were about to go on holiday and I hadn’t had time to pop to the bookshop. I loved it.