When I first received the email telling me that I had been selected to join the SYP shadow panel for fiction I was excited, but also somewhat apprehensive. Having never had to judge books in this way before I didn’t know what to expect, but from receiving my pile of new books, to the panel meeting, it was a delight from beginning to end.

I enjoyed the challenge of reading six books in such a short timeframe, and being a fast reader myself, was excited to see how far I could push myself to keep up the pace. However, I felt I had to concentrate much more when reading these novels, as I tend to skin over sections, or read to quickly and miss important details; something I did not feel I could afford to do when judging these books. I enjoyed making myself focus and pay attention to the prose, and the merit of the text, something I often forget to do when reading for pleasure as I’m very guilty of racing through books.

For me, the best aspect was the panel meeting at the end of the process. It was so enjoyable being able to sit and chat with other about the books that we all had such strong opinions on, and I was surprised that we felt to similarly about many.

Being on the panel broadened my horizons, and gave me the opportunity to read books I would never normally have chosen for myself, yet I thoroughly enjoyed them. It has taught me to be more open-minded and not to be so picky when it comes to my taste as books can often surprise you.