July Reading Challenge: Orange Prize Winners

Courtesy of orangeprize.co.uk

UPDATE: I just realized that mrstreme.wordpress.com is hosting Orange July where we set goals in relation to the Orange Prize and participate in mini-challenges to read free books. So excited about this challenge now; it was meant to be…

I decided last week to take on a reading challenge for August courtesy of mhpbooks.com where I’ll be attempting to read and comment on their 42 novellas in the Art of the Novella Challenge that they’ve posted. But then that left me wanting a reading challenge for July.

Since I just finished reading the first four books in George R.R. Martin‘s “Game of Thrones” series (which was a challenge itself as each one is close to 1000 pages long), I decided I wanted to read more serious fare. And though I’ll probably have to pause mid-challenge to read his next book “Dance With Dragons” that comes out in a couple of weeks, I’ve wanted to read all of the Orange Prize winners for a while. That’s going to be my July challenge: to read all Orange Prize winners.

For those who don’t know the Orange Prize, it’s awarded every year to what’s considered the best fiction book by a female writer. It’s been going on since 1996 when Helen Dunmore‘s “A Spell of Winter” won the award until this year when Tea Obreht‘s debut novel “The Tiger’s Wife” beat out some stiff competition. To be fair, I’ve already read a handful of the Orange Prize winners, including “Spell of Winter,” Anne Michaels‘ “Fugitive Pieces” (1997 winner), Marilynne Robinson‘s “Home” (2009), Lionel Shriver‘s “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (2005), and Zadie Smith‘s “On Beauty” (2006), as well as this year’s winner ‘Tiger’s Wife’ (which deserved the award immensely). All are recommended, my special favorites being “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “Home,” which is a companion piece to one of my favorite novels of all time “Gilead.”

I’ll be focusing on the ones I haven’t read, starting with 1998’s winner “Larry’s Party” by Carol Shields. Expect a post soon about my thoughts on that one and a tally at the end of which were deserving and which haven’t really stood the test of time.

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