Being on the Shadow Panel for the Non-Fiction category of the Saltire Society Awards was less challenging that I originally anticipated. I’m not usually an avid non-fiction reader so I was prepared for it to be difficult. Reading 6 books of a genre which isn’t my favourite, in quite a short time-frame, was daunting. However, once I got into the flow of things, and started to enjoy the stories I was reading, it was easy. Each of the books were quite different so I did have to adapt how I read them.Whilst reading each of them I tried to consider them against the same criteria, which was tough as each dealt with unique situations. I asked myself:
- Does this book accomplish what it set out to do?
- Would it captivate an audience, regardless of their investment in the subject matter?
- Is the writing understandable and informative?
- What does it add to the non-fiction genre that wasn’t there before?
After considering each of these things, myself and the panel discussed each bookat length. Personally, my favourite was The Passion of Harry Bingo by Peter Ross, a collection of short stories about different places and people in Scotland. It tells ‘unreported’ stories from Scotland which are unique, riveting and well-informed, and yet are so simple and every-day they could be told by someone you know.
It was hard to not just pick your favourite, and consider all aspects of each book, good and bad and compare them against each other. However, the group did manage to unanimously decide on the book we believe should be the winner.
Being part of this process was really enjoyable. It was interesting and got me intrigued about a genre that I never had much patience for before. It has shown that as long as a book has a good story and good writing, it’ll spark my interest. Good luck to all the nominated authors across all categories and I look forward to Awards Night!