About four months ago, after a horrible spell with disease, I decided to rekindle this blog. It coincided with the Carnegie nominations and so I launched myself in to 'shadowing' from the beginning, as I had done a few years ago.
Since our 2014 Carnegie cavortings, a few things have changed: I'm doing it alone (that's a bit boring), the nominations list has jumped from 76 to a whopping 114 books, and I hadn't read a single book on the list (so no head starts).
This meant that I was going to be ultra selective in the books I managed to read: remember, I'm also a slow reader! So this is how my meticulous narrowing down went (yes, I'm a bit like this in real life):
1. Nominations list announced: already a narrowing down of every 'children's/YA' book published in the last awards calendar year; plus, they've 'met' the criteria for being considered an outstanding piece of children's literature (oh yay, lit crit the fun way!).
2. Many publishers send me review copies of their nominated titles (yes, it's a marketing and publicity period of the awards) so I focus on these eighty-one (81! Hardly makes a dent!).
3. I pick up the book, maybe read the blurb, definitely read the first page. This makes three piles: yes, no, maybe (these piles go in boxes and on shelves). The Yes pile: catchy first page (either lyrical, distinctive, or suggestive of subtle humour), or maybe just about a plot or character or theme that interests me (very subjective!). The No pile: voices that whine within the first few sentences, topics or genres that I don't really enjoy, crass humour, first pages that lack a distinct voice. The Maybe pile: neither a Yes nor No but I-don't-think-I'm going-to-have-the-time. And then they're organised by publisher (yep, try to give each one some coverage because, selective as I am, I still try to be a bit fair like that).
4. I start reading - fast (well, for me). Book after book, and making the odd note. It's a headrush and then things start to get a bit samey (jaded me). I slow down, get off my butt and do some non-sedentary activities that get my heart and head pounding. And then I swap the piles of unread books around a bit because my idea of Yes, No, Maybe has changed a bit (fickle!). Plus, some of the books I was excited about didn't go my way so they've been tried-but-not-finished-and put-in-a-box.
5. I start some - and quite enjoy them - but for some reason, I'm pulled away from them (this happens a lot) so they get moved to the 'with-a-bookmark-still-in-them' shelf (The Bombs That Brought Us Together, Girl on a Plane, and The Dog, Ray). Another couple I started and was quite taken by but haven't finished because I've simply logged them as a couple of books that I might recommend for more age-intended readers than myself (Illuminae and Perijee and Me).
6. I start running out of time because my mind has drifted to some adult novels and biographies and some new teen titles and I've been doing a lot more heart-pumping and head-pounding stuff and what do you know, it's longlist day tomorrow!!!!! Oh. So, I've reviewed 17, have tried but not liked 11, and still have quite a few that I would genuinely still like to read whether they're longlisted or not. So, yes, my selective reading, often starts with a list (an awards list, a reading list, a curated list, or an advance-copy list.
7. Everyone will be pleased that I'm not a judge (because I'm so fickle and so slow - plus I'm not a librarian). Longlist tomorrow!
And I made 3 videos (hen I wasn't reading or doing the heart-pumping stuff) showcasing the 81 (or so) titles that I was sent. I had fun with that and made up some categories to put them in. Some of them I'd read, some of them I'd just contemplated. Here's one of them.