I then got thinking about the stack of books that didn’t quite make it. The one’s we looked at and thought “Well… naaah. Maybe not”. It’s quite a distinguished list and it makes interesting reading.
The reasons we thought “no” range from sparing people’s blushes, books were darker/swearyier/weirder than we’d remembered, they were too meaty, they weren’t meaty enough or we’d already featured the author in some way at the festival in the last few years. (There’s a couple of books that have made me laugh like a drain but I wouldn’t want to expose the “average Greenbelt” punter to my sense of humour, there’s limits, you know. )
The criteria we set for the books was books we were passionate about, books that made us think, sit up and take notice or books that had made us cry. Then started the arguments, the name-calling and, finally, the cull. (I’m not being serious, it was a much simpler process than you’d think)
I won’t attach any narrative to which books are which but bear that list of reasons above in mind when picking something for your bedside table/commute.
1) Born Yesterday by Gordon Burn
2) What you make it by Michael Marshall Smith
3) The Grimm Sisters by Liz Lochhead
4) The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
5) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
6) Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James
7) A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again by David Foster Wallace
8.) Dog Walker by Arthur Bradford
9) Loose Canon: a portrait of Brian Brindley by Damian Thompson