On Literary Prizes
I was bitten by the “Book Awards Bug” about ten years ago. I’d just moved from the US to the UK, and found myself in unfamiliar territory where contemporary literature was concerned. I’d been feeding myself a fairly steady diet of New York Times bestsellers and Oprah’s Book Club picks, both of which were in short supply in my new home. But it was Booker Prize season, and the media was giving the prize considerable coverage. “What’s all this then?” I asked myself. And my new “tbr pile” was born. I didn’t read every nominee — far from it — but I discovered many new authors including Margaret Atwood, Trezza Azzopardi, Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Monica Ali, and Zoë Heller. By the end of this year I’ll have read every winner.
The Orange Prize is my other favorite literary award. As with the Booker Prize, I love following the annual march from longlist to shortlist to winner. For reasons I can’t explain, this prize didn’t attract my attention until much later. These days, about 2/3 of my reading is written by women, so I love the idea of an award celebrating women’s literature. I’ve worked my way through the Orange Prize winners list, and am now selectively reading short- or long-listed works. And when the 2010 Orange Prize Longlist was announced last week, I couldn’t help but get excited about the prospects for my tbr pile.
Over the years, both prizes have completely reshaped my reading choices. I’m not as crazy as some, who attempt to read the entire longlist before the winner is crowned, although I might consider doing that with the Booker and Orange shortlists someday. For now I’m just happy when “prize season” comes around, and I love the endless speculation and debate!
Infographic of the Week
This week’s infographic was inspired by last week‘s McDonald’s rant. Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish asks, Why does a salad cost more than a Big Mac? Seeing how federal subsidies support food production, helps me understand how this affects day-to-day consumer food choices — and overall dietary health. Which leads me to my next topic …
Vegetable Garden 2010
Oh happy day! It’s spring! Here’s the “before” photo of my 2010 vegetable garden:
I began vegetable gardening two years ago, after becoming interested in locally grown and produced food. I’d been visiting a farm market, and had found a local source for milk and eggs. At the same time, we’d made the switch to a vegetarian diet, so I was interested to see if we could grow some of our own food. I really enjoyed myself, and learned a lot. Last year, we expanded the garden dramatically, and this led to more learnings — for instance, it is possible to grow too many zucchini! I can see that each year we will tinker with the formula, trying to find the right combination of crops. Last weekend marked the beginning of the 2010 gardening season. The weather was beautiful, and with my husband’s help I was able to plant some of our earlier crops: peas, lettuce, and carrots. I love being out in the garden on a warm sunny morning; for me, it’s almost a spiritual experience to tend the plants while listening to the birds singing in the trees. This is a busy part of the season, starting seeds either in flats or in the ground. I’ll share my progress here from time to time!
Any gardeners out there? What do you like to grow?