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The Man Booker longlist, or What’s French for “How to Blog About Books You Haven’t Read”?

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Bloc-notes. Officially, that’s French for blog. But like those other tech nouns that have also become verbs (to google, to xerox…), I’m not sure how “to blog” translates en Français.

I still have people asking for the book Comment Parler Des Livres Que L'on N'a Pas Lus? Actually they ask for the English version. Like many of the books I enthusiastically recommend, I have yet to read it. It is part of an ever-growing list. That list is called The Ever-Growing List of Soon-To-Be-Read Books. The fact that I haven’t read a book certainly doesn’t stop me from talking about it, recommending it, or blogging about it. I read all the major review sources, I listen to the opinions of library users and coworkers, and I try to keep up with my List. When titles come up in discussion, I sometimes say “Oh yeah, that one is my List” and sometimes I say “Oh, you have to read that one!”

The Man Booker Dozen has just been announced, adding twelve more titles to my List.

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga
Girl in a Blue Dress, by Gaynor Arnold
The Secret Scripture, by Sebastian Berry
From A to X, by John Berger
The Lost Dog, by Michelle de Kretser
Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh
The Clothes on Their Backs, by Linda Grant
A Case of Exploding Mangoes, by Mohammed Hanif
The Northern Clemency, by Philip Hensher
Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill
The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie
Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
A Fraction of the Whole, by Steve Toltz

Some of these (Netherland, Enchantress of Florence) were obvious choices. I can’t wait to read Berger’s new one, due out in September. His About Looking and Ways of Seeing are two favorites of mine that I am constantly revisiting. I was surprised to see Child 44 on the list. From what I’ve heard it’s a very compelling read but definitely in the category of “airport fiction” and not “literary fiction”. Maybe it does transcend genres though. I’ll let you know once it gets to the top of my List. The Man Booker shortlist will be announced September 9th and the winner on October 14th.

Right now I’m 100+ pages into The Outlander, by Gil Adamson. Rather than give any in-depth plot summary, I offer you the first paragraph:

"It was night, and the dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling. They burst from the cover of the woods and their shadows swam across a moonlit field. For a moment, it was as if her scent had torn like a cobweb and blown on the wind, shreds of it here and there, useless. The dogs faltered and broke apart, yearning. Walking now, stiff-legged, they ploughed the grass with their heavy snouts.”

Set in 1903, it’s about a female on the run. You know right away why she’s running but you don’t known all the details so you get hooked right away into wanting to find out what exactly happened. Adamson’s debut novel has been compared to Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain (sorry, not a selling point for me) and the early work of Cormac McCarthy (SOLD!). Vendela Vida and Jim Harrison offer kind words on the back cover, and I’d bump titles from the bottom of my Soon-To-Be-Read list to the top based on their opinions. I have yet to reach the end, but the beautiful writing alone justifies picking the book up, or bumping it towards the top of your own Soon-To-Be-Read List.

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The list

I know what you mean about "the list," that is the personal list. It keeps growing. On my list for years and what I started to read recently was Charriere's <em>Papillion</em>. Sadly I put it down (back on the list again) to read <em>The Forger's Spell</em> by Edward Dolnick, because I heard the author on Lenny Lopate's show on WNYC. So far it is a winner and has opened up a Pandora's Box of other things to read on a similar theme. The list keeps gowing. <em>Child 44</em> is on my list too - want to see what the hype is all about. Not enough time to read everything, I am book a month type of reader, mainly on the train to and from work. Recently read Gabriel Cohen's book <em>Red Hook</em>, a mystery set in and around Red Hook, Brooklyn, a place close to my heart. Comprised of characters you care about, I completely enjoyed it. The setting was right, a good gritty New York book. Cohen will be speaking at the Mid-Manhattan Library in the fall, to talk about his new book <em>Storms Can't Hurt the Sky: A Buddist Path Through Divorce</em>. This book is on my list. I too talk about books I have not read, lots of sources out there to enable librarians to do their job.

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