I loved taking part in the Saltire Shadow Panel for Fiction. I got to read books I would never have chosen to pick up off the shelves, and surprisingly enjoyed them more than I thought I would. This was my first time doing anything like this, although as an English undergrad I have had to critically read texts. But still a different kind of thought process: it is not just about looking for literary merit, but about the audience, and the overall enjoyment that the general population can gain from it.
What I looked for was a book with something to hold my attention. It either had to have an exciting story, great characters, emotional appeal or just lovely writing. The selected novels had more than one of these, or different combinations of each. Some took a bit of work to get into, and others had me gripped from the beginning to end. The emotional impact of the books was my personal highlight as some of the novels I literally judged from the cover (and the blurb) and therefore had completely written off, actuallyblew me away. This experience gave me the perfect excuse to try some of the author’s other books.
This was the same in the discussions, I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed them until I had to say it out loud and got very passionate when speaking about them. It was nice to see that others had similar veins of thought, despite my assumption that we all prefer to read different genres or styles of books. Great writing seems to be universal.