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Judge Shami Chakrabarti on getting stuck in to non-fiction for the Samuel Johnson Prize

Judge Shami Chakrabarti on getting stuck in to non-fiction for the Samuel Johnson Prize

non-fiction
books
Shami Chakrabarti
Liberty

It’s a cliché but I’m honoured to help judge this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize. And slightly apprehensive, too – it’s an awesome responsibility. Younger colleagues bang on about iPads and Kindles but it’s been thrilling to immerse myself in such a variety of books so beautifully written.

I don’t read as much as I’d like – being Director of Liberty and a mum keeps me busy – and when I do it’s often policy briefings and press releases. So to get stuck into some serious non-fiction – exploring subjects I mightn’t ordinarily choose – has been very refreshing.

In the past I’ve often turned to children’s books for their optimism and spirit. Not only are they great stories but they can reach so many more youngsters than any one person ever could, and they don’t patronise along the way.

But non-fiction continues to flourish, as Prizes like this demonstrate. Technology changes and trends come and go, but people’s thirst for knowledge remains unquenched and forensic examinations of topics ranging from the battles we’ve waged to the buildings we inhabit remain vital.

These books remind us all of the world’s finer intricacies, sometimes lost amid the hustle-and-bustle, and I’m delighted to be along for the ride.

 

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