Last night, I had a dream that I was winning a big book award. I was supposed to receive the award in a huge auditorium decorated with red upholstery and attached to a university somewhere, maybe Toronto. (Why Toronto I have no idea except perhaps this was the wish part of my dream and Margaret Atwood would give me the award while my friends Betsy and Brian would be there?)
I had that honored feeling I get when someone I respect says they like what I wrote, but I was also terrified. And late, of course. I was trying to build some sort of laptop desk by hand (if you’ve ever seen me wield a hammer, you know what a problem that was) in the lobby of the auditorium, plus I had to go back across town with my friend Leigh Ann to get proper clothes. All in 30 minutes.
So it was a stress dream with a real dream intertwined. And it got me thinking about book awards. So today, I give you my five favorite award-winning books.
1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. Newbery Award Winner in 1963.
I’m a huge fan of Charles Wallace and Mrs. Whatsit. Love the plot and the themes of love and acceptance and overcoming loss. Such a great read for young and old.
2. Possession by A.S. Byatt. Man Book Prize Winner in 1990.
I’m a huge fan of this book because it unfolds in multiple storylines with multiple themes. Plus, it involves books . . . a lot.
3. Blindness by Jose Saramago. Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990
This book profoundly changed my view on post-apocalyptic fiction (although I don’t really like putting it into that category.) It also significantly shaped my view of society as deeply interconnected and helped me “see” the way we take so much about society for granted.
4. On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Orange Prize Winner in 2006.
The characters in this novel captured my attention because they were flawed and powerful; I could see some of myself in each of them. Plus, I love stories of how families work through trials.
5. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Winner of the National Book Award in Nonfiction in 2005.
This book helped me grieve my mother’s death, helped me understand (in some small way) my father’s grief, and inspired me with it’s beautiful, raw language.
Great books, all.
In the process of writing this post, though, I discovered something sad – I have read almost none of the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize winners. I’m sadly behind in my reading of Nobel Prize Winners, too. Time to rectify that situation.
What prize winners do you love? What prize winners do you recommend I start with as I try to better my reading in these areas?