On being a (literary) judge
In the wee small hours I wonder why exactly I agreed to being a judge for the Samuel Johnson Prize. It was, I think, a combination of feeling dead flattered to be aske, thinking it might be interesting and the winning rhetoric of the chair (Martin Rees) who asked me; indeed his email must count as the most winning request I have ever received (and I am not going to share it with the world because I fully intend to pinch one or two of his winning phrases in due course).
The trouble is, as I know, that I am a terribly slow reader; I'm the woman who took 2 whole weeks (well spent) to read Alan Hollinghurst's, Folding Star. For better or worse I have never managed to master the art of speed reading (aka skipping); and I am not likely to master it now. (It goes on the list of all those things I shall now never master before I die.. including, playing the violin or getting on your bike by starting off with one foot on the pedal and scooting). In fact I have come to wonder if, maybe, one thing I am really good at is reading slowly.
Anyway all this was fine and theoretical when I was about to be a judge, and the books hadn't actually arrived.
Now I have a large box of them in my living room (no I dont know how many), and I find I am behaving rather like an anxious undergraduate. That is to say, I am spending all my time strategizing about HOW I will do this, rather than getting on with it.
I look at the box and I wonder whether to read the 800 pagers first. But if I do that how depressed will I feel when I have only done 2 in a week? But then how will I feel if I have all the long ones left till the end? Then I get out the diary and look at the upcoming train journey/flights and wonder which I could fit into what time slot. Then I think, well may be if I bought some of the books on kindle I could just take them with me wherever I went....
All this instead of actually getting in there and READING.
The bright side is, just think what a lot of great books I'll have read when I've finished.