Books of the Year

Overall Winner

 
 

Normal People

Sally Rooney
Faber & Faber

 
 

The Ice Monster

David Walliams (author), Tony Ross (illustrator)
HarperCollins Children's Books

 
 

Becoming

Michelle Obama (author and narrator);
Penguin Random House Audio

 
 

Lullaby

Leila Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor
Hachette Audio

 
 

First Man In

Ant Middleton (author and narrator)
HarperNonFiction

 
 

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Stephen Hawking (author), Ben Whishaw (narrator)
John Murray

 
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Overall Winner: Book of the Year 2019

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People

Sally Rooney

Faber & Faber

Sally Rooney’s second novel, Normal People, established her as a sensation—a book that could please the readers as much as it had the reviewers. The final panel of judges selected Normal People, winner of the Fiction Book of the Year, ahead of other winners: the print and audio versions of Becoming (Michelle Obama, read by Obama); vegan cookbook Bosh! (Henry Firth and Ian Theasby); children’s bestseller The Ice Monster (David Walliams); children’s and non-fiction hit You Are Awesome (Matthew Syed); Crime & Thriller winner Our House (Louise Candlish); and Fiction: Début winner Lullaby (Leïla Slimani).

Judges described the novel as “clever, and painful, delivered emotionally but with an economy of expression”; another called it “almost perfect, a gem of a book”. It was a book booksellers really got behind, with the publisher Faber & Faber delivering both in terms of its look and feel, but also its publishing plan. “Faber built her credibility with Conversations with Friends, and then let the buzz about this book build by itself. It built organically through word of mouth as booksellers read it”.

The judges for this final round of selecting were Daunt Books’ Brett Wolstencroft; the Labour MP Jess Phillips; broadcaster and author Anita Anand; Times Literary Supplement editor and publisher Stig Abell; Sky News presenter Kay Burley; and Amazon’s books director Brigitte Ricou- Bellan. The discussion was chaired by The Bookseller’s books editor, Alice O’Keeffe. This was their verdict: “This is a book that, five years from now, we will still be reading. It is fantastically important. The author may well be on her way to becoming the major literary figure of our time.”