Awards are always subjective. They are the opinions of judges who bring experience and expertise to their roles but whose views you may not necessarily share. I think it was Radio New Zealand’s Lynn Freeman, one of this year’s judges, who said that in the end reading was a relationship between a reader and a book. Each person’s personal experience will therefore be different, as will their opinion of what is good or interesting.
I used to devour fiction, but these days I prefer books on politics and economics, not least because they have fewer tales of harrowing childhoods and hardly anyone’s horse dies. However, from the book awards I will put Mary McCallum’s The Blue on my reading list, along with Judy Siers’ biography of James Walter Chapman-Taylor and Alan Clarke’s The Great Sacred Forest of Tane. For the rest, I’ll await the real consumer test – friends saying, “Oh, you really must read…”.