Everything about being on the fiction shadow panel felt rewarding, and I also got to read six books that I would never have picked up myself. Each book was further out of my comfort zone than I’d ever been, however being on this panel has made me more willing to consider another novel like the nominees next time I want to pick up something new. Dalila by Jason Donald was my personal favourite. With a devastatingly realistic plot and a wonderful cast of characters, it was almost too easy to enjoy this novel, even when it pulled at your heartstrings.
The second part of the panel I expected to be a formal discussion, full of critical analysis, and I was in no way prepared for critical analysis. Simply because I got so distracted by purely enjoying the novels that I made no notes of my thoughts. However, it had a lovely relaxed atmosphere, resembling a book club rather than the harsh panel I was expecting. I love talking about books I’ve recently read, and here was a group of people with a great range of opinions and ideas about the ones I’d just finished. With added tea and biscuits, it was the best activity for a group of book lovers, with the bonus of a new insight into how award panels work. If this resembles what a real judging panel is like at all, then I’d be happy do this all the time.