Now, before we start, I feel a disclaimer is needed: all books are prizewinners in their own way. Every single book will be someone’s ‘Best Book Ever’ – an epitaph that might not necessarily mean it gets a sticker on its cover, featured on a poster or its name read out at a lavish ceremony but for that individual reader, that particular book has spoken to them, enthralled and entertained them in just the right way. With that in mind, this post looks at those books that have had the sticker, the poster or the announcement (or at least been shortlisted for it) while acknowledging the many, many, many, many books that don’t, even though they are great.
With so many book prizes out there, it can be hard to keep track. There are the obvious biggies – the Costa Book Prizes, Man Booker, Women’s Prize for Fiction and the British Book Awards – along with lots of prizes that focus on non-fiction or genres of fiction. Some of my favourites are the RONAs (the Romantic Novelists Association awards) and the Wellcome Book Prize but they are by no means the only ones around. We’ve bought together some of these prizes on our ‘Book Prizes Collection’ Reading Ideas page which you can find here (you can find children’s and young adult’s prizes here) and we’ll update them throughout the year when new awards are announced so make sure you keep checking in.
Whether you read the whole short list (or even long list) or just pick the winners, these lists can highlight books that might not have been on your reading radar or confirm what you knew all along – that a particular book rules! You could do what I have done in the past – judged each one by its cover and read the one that looked the most intriguing, or you could, like our ‘Super Readers’ group do, read an entire shortlist, vote for a winner and see if you match the judges’ decision.
With such a wide variety of different books on offer, it can be hard to pick out what to highlight here but below are a collection of ones that I’ve read (plus a few that I like the look of from the cover but that I haven’t read).
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2018 Fiction Book of the Year)
I read this with the Teen Reading Group that I run at Leamington Library (if you’re interested in joining the group, please see here for more details). It’s an interesting book that poses many questions about life – from the viewpoint of someone who, because of a genetic anomaly, has lived for several hundred years, barely aging but seeing how the world has changed. Tom Hazard (great character name) spans many lives and with a secretive group called ‘The Albatross Society’ on his tail, as a reader, you’re never quite sure whether Tom is at risk or safe. This was a great book to spark discussion – we covered topics as far-reaching as death and grief to why we wouldn’t want to live in some of the time periods Tom finds himself in.
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2018 Narrative Book of the Year)
Go behind the scenes and follow Adam Kay as he reveals the life of a junior doctor in mind-blowing detail. A hugely readable book and one that will both uplift and make you cross. Though this didn’t win its category (that honour went to another fantastic read – ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race‘ by Reni Eddo-Lodge), it has been hugely popular and is worth a read.
The Lost Words: a spell book by Robert Macfarlane, with illustrations by Jackie Morris (shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Prize)
If you haven’t seen this beautiful book, you are missing out. Featuring words that are ‘lost’ (i.e. no longer in some children’s dictionaries), the book features exquisite illustrations and reads like a magic book – conjuring up nature and its beauty through the words and drawings reproduced in this huge but spell-binding work.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (winner of the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction)
I’ve not read this one but the blurb certainly intrigues me. Following the fortunes (and otherwise) of Isma and Eamonn, two people with a lot to live up to in their families, this seems like an engaging read and certainly won over the judges of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. If you’ve read it, let me know in the comments section.
After the Fire by Will Hill (winner of the YA Book Prize 2018)
Life inside The Fence for Moonbeam is one lived under the direction of Father John. With strict rules to follow, including a ban on talking to Outsiders, this novel reveals life inside a community fearful of the wider world and what happens when one young person starts to challenge such views.
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (winner of the Blue Peter Best Story 2018 Award)
Wizards, warriors, magic, dungeons and hundreds of years old mysteries – what more do you need?
That’s a quick look at some of the books you’ll see listed on our ‘Book Prizes Collection’ pages – there are lots more to discover. Whether it’s finding out how robots will live alongside humans in the future, following the migration of seabirds through Scotland, Scandinavia and beyond or discovering tasty recipes in some of the cook books that feature, there are a wealth of reads to dip in and out of.
Don’t forget that our e-books collections may also have copies available of titles and that some will be available on audiobook – either in our libraries as CD sets or playaways or through our e-audio catalogues. We’ll also have some in Large Print too – you can find out the different formats on our catalogue, or speak to a member of staff next time you visit and we’ll be happy to help you navigate the catalogue.