Holiday book reading awards

I’m back. I think. Let me check.

Yes, I’m back, returned from the birthplace of Zeus and frequent haunt of Noel Edmonds. Gone from 37ºC down to 17ºC in one fell swoop with only a mild tan as compensation. Curses.

As you might expect, I got through plenty of books on my sun lounger and I thought I’d give out a few awards to them.

The “worst book written since we evolved from slime molds” award: Run, by Jeff Abbott
“Why don’t I try one of those holiday reading books? That’ll be fun,” I says to myself as I trawl through Waterstone’s in my lunch break. “Ooh, ‘The Bourne Identity for the 21st century’. That should be good.” Oh, how mistaken can one man be? Don’t get me wrong – it has a cracking plot. Absolutely ludicrous black ops/secret organisations/man caught up in the middle of it all rubbish, but it does get through the requisite thrills and spills in its allotted span. It’s just that yes, up and down the country, there are slime mold writing groups that can come up with better dialogue and better written paragraphs than Jeff Abbott can. Physically painful to read at times, it’s also bound so cheaply that a clump of pages fell out before I’d even got to the end of the book.

The “Really? He’s still writing them?” award: Making Money, by Terry Pratchett
Not having read any Pratchetts in about 15 years, I thought I’d tune in to see what they were like these days. Turns out, the joke count’s about the same, but the number of pages in each book appears to have tripled in the last 25 years so oddly less satisfying. Some interesting ideas, but ‘Adora Belle’ could do with a few more dimensions. I suspect this was a sequel of sorts, too. Not bad though.

The Whimsical Alan Bennett novella award: The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett
Really rather lovely book about what would happen if the Queen suddenly became an obsessive reader. As much a comedy as a treatise on the power of the written word to change people.

The Socrates award for corrupting the nation’s children: Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips
After being enjoyed by all, our paperback copy got placed on the reading exchange pile for others to enjoy. Whereupon it was picked up by a 13 year old girl. We tried to stop her and warn her that it wasn’t for innocent kiddies, but… How do you take your hemlock, Marie?

The Déjà Vu award: Angry White Pyjamas, by Robert Twigger
Not that I’ve ever been to Japan to train in aikido with the Japanese riot police, but I spent the whole book thinking “Christ. This is all a bit familiar.” It turns out that martial arts instructors and students are pretty much the same all over the world – ie full of characters, some of them quite nutty. Great fun though, particularly if you’re a martial artist of any variety. Just sort of peters out at the end, though.

The ridiculously overwritten but still interesting award: The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
Lovely wife and I both agreed that while this Sliding Doors style plot was very interesting – there are two chapter twos, etc, to investigate what would happen depending on a particular choice – the whole book should have been half the length, except Lionel Shriver’s verbal diarrhoea took over and made it slightly tedious to read. Ended up having to explain what “ersatz”, “geodesic”, “fungible” and “obsequious” mean to poor lovely wife whose sun lounger came without a dictionary for some reason. Plus, show don’t tell, Lionel. It really is so important.