Jennifer Horan is the Network Librarian at Kemnay Academy, Aberdeenshire.
Goodbye Radio 4, I’m leaving you. Well, for a while, at least. No longer will your familiar tones accompany my breakfast, dinner and free-time. You see, my life now revolves around reading. Then reviewing. And reading, and reviewing. And my love for you is due to your book programmes. Almost every day you provide me with a list of fantastic new books to devour, and whilst I’m dedicating my reading efforts to CKG I can’t be distracted by non-CKG titles, no matter how glorious they may sound. Even Book at Bedtime is distracting. My desk is covered in post-its listing titles I must get my paws on as soon as my judging duty is complete; any more and I’m likely to be chastised by The Woodland Trust for paper overuse.
It may not surprise you to learn that I am a book lover and avid reader, but here’s something I never thought I’d say: reading (this intensely) is tough. Very rewarding, but tough. With the responsibility comes pressure – you want to do justice to your duty and make sure the very best books are considered for the prize. With such a high standard of contenders, it’s inevitable that there will be disappointment from readers when some titles don’t make it, so as judges we must be certain of our choices.
Replacing recreation with hardcore reading is not the only way my life has changed since becoming a judge – I now measure time in book quantities – waiting for my computer to load: “Time for another chapter”, being delayed on the train: “I could’ve read a book there” etc.
But despite the hardship, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet to get to share my passion for reading, being introduced to some wonderful titles and authors, and to be part of this prestigious award. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.