The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist 2016

With the announcement of the The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 shortlist on Monday I will once again be trying to read all six books before the winner is announced in June. This will be my third year of trying to read the shortlist, I had a great time doing it in 2014, but the 2015 shortlist left me underwhelmed.

I’m feeling hopefully about this year, especially from Eric’s reviews over at Lonesome Reader who has read the long list along with Simon of Savidge Reads. The judging panel is a fantastic group of women, I think I would trust anything Elif Shafak told me.

Here’s the shortlist:

  • The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
  • Ruby by Cynthia Bond
  • The Green Road by Anne Enright
  • The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

I’m not sure I can get through the remaining 400 pages of A Little Life, I’m feeling a little anxious and I’ve not even picked it back up yet.

Read any of these?

You’re so moody Jonathan Pine

I refuse to write any more reviews until I manage to finish The Night Manager by John Le Carre, it’s taking me forever to read it. I managed to read Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng in a matter of hours, an immersive, heartbreaking story, I’ve been reading le Carre for weeks.

Am I drawn to books that are easier to read and have an instant emotional pay off? Sometimes I think I am, the longer or harder the book the more likely I am to assess the time it will take me to get through it based on what I could read in that time. Like an addict wanting a quick hit rather than some quality cut literature.


But no more brain! From this day forward you will be patient (mostly) and spend longer enjoying a good book. Deadlines be damed.


Oh, and Pine is incredibly moody.


If you moved country what books would you take?

My friend Claire moved to Canada recently, to live the freelancing dream in beautiful Vancouver. She sold me some of her books (for the very reasonable price of £1 each) and her mum offered to send a box or two of her books over to her.

Now, I’m rather attached to the books I own. I live in a (not literal) box, so the books I end up hanging on to are special. Would they fit in the two suitcases I would only be able to take if I emigrated on whim? No they would not.

I would rather own books than change my life.

But it got me thinking, what books would I take with me if I moved – or had to move – as it’s clear they mean more to me than wonderful new experiences.

It’s not even just a case of picking favourites, I can pick them up (hopefully, what a gamble) at the place I move to. I have some old copies of books I could never replace – a 60s Persuasion by Jane Austen I stole off my mother for example. Are you telling me I’d have to give that back? What kind of book thief do you think I am!

So let’s imagine I can only take 10 books to my new country with me, five per suitcase, and that no one can afford to ship them to me.

What would I take?

Persuasion by Jane Austen, 1960s
So some of the pages are a little loose and the cover looks like a Spanish Mills and Boone, I love it. It was my mum’s and now it’s mine. That makes it family.

Some Do Not . . . & No More Parades by Ford Madox Ford, 1969 (ISBN13: 9780722136126)
I want to own the Parade’s End tetralogy book by book, but this seems to be the best I can find. I remember seeing this copy for £40 on Book Depository in 2013, I got it for a £1 in Oxfam.

Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm by Enid Blyton, 1980s
I’ve owned this copy since I was 10 and my sentimentality knows no bounds. How could I leave the country without a memory of home and its idylls.

tmnsMansfield Park by Jane Austen
I literally cannot go anywhere without at least two Jane Austen novels.*

Tell Me No Secrets by Joy Fielding, 1999 (ISBN-13: 978-0773726864)
This was the first adult book I ever read, one of the few books I’ve read several times. My aunt let me have any book off her shelves when I was 13/14 and this is what I chose. She’s turning 80 now, it wouldn’t feel right leaving it behind.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2005 (ISBN13: 9780007189885)
Of all her wonderful, wonderful novels, this is my favourite. Adichie is a must, if only I could take them all! (I’m starting to feel like I’m actually going now, guilt and anxiety are settling in.)

havHeroes and Villains by Angela Carter, 1991 (ISBN13: 9780140119305)
The first novel I ever studied at University. It introduced me to a whole new world of literature and studying. I read it in one sitting (after avoiding it for a month….., shut up).

An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestly 
I stole this one from school.**

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
This or Slaughterhouse-Five. How could I abandon Vonnegut? I don’t have a physical copy of it to weep over. Both these novels blew me away, they were utter perfection in every way I needed them to be.

Beloved by Toni Morrison, 2004 (ISBN: 978-1400033416)
It was this or The Color Purple by Alice Walker, both influential books. However, I remember being so in awe of Beloved, so desperate to understand it (this was before I was aware of my white privilege) I couldn’t bear to abandon my copy now.

What books will always move with you?

Are you as precious of your belongings as I am?

* This is a lie, literally carrying two novels around would become problematic.
** True story.