Former junior doctor Adam Kay's memoir This is Going to Hurt (Picador) has been named the winner of the Books Are My Bag Readers' Choice Award, as chosen by the public.
Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before an experience on the ward caused him to reconsider his future. This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor is the product of a diary Kay kept throughout his training, interspersing tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis.
The shortlists for the BAMB Readers' Awards are curated by booksellers and voted for by the public, but the BAMB Readers’ Choice Award is voted for by the public without an initial shortlist.
Kay said he was “beyond thrilled” to win the prize.
L-R: Alexa von Hirschberg (collecting the award on behalf of Kate Tempest), Jackie Morris, Emma Carroll, Matt Haig, Adam Kay and Rosi Crawley (collecting the award on behalf of Angie Thomas)
“Thanks so much to the wonderful bookshops and booksellers who chose me for the shortlist, and to the bookbuyers who voted for me. Lovely and humbling as it has been to read nice words about the book in the newspapers, I wrote it for readers not newspapers, and that’s what makes this such an honour.”
He added that he was glad he was able to help get the message about the pressure junior doctors are under across.
“When the junior doctors were coming under fire from the government for ‘being greedy’ it was so heartbreaking that the medics were struggling to get their story across. (Presumably because they were working 97-hour weeks.) Hopefully I’ve done my little bit to help people understand what it means to be a junior doctor and how ridiculous the government’s position is,” he said.
The junior-doctor-turned-comedian’s memoir, This is Going to Hurt, also came top in the Non Fiction category. Meanwhile, Matt Haig won an award for the second year in a row, this time with How to Stop Time (Canongate), a bittersweet story about a man who has been alive for centuries, coming top in Popular Fiction. In 2016 Haig won the Non-Fiction Award for Reasons to be Alive (Canongate).
Celebrated poet Kate Tempest won the Breakthrough Author category for her debut novel, The Bricks that Built the Houses (Bloomsbury Circus) and Man Booker longlistee Colson Whitehead won the Novel Award for The Underground Railroad (Fleet), while The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris was recognised as the most Beautiful Book of the year.
The awards were presented to each winner by British booksellers.
For the first time, this year the children’s categories were voted for by children themselves, with The Hate U Give (Walker) by Angie Thomas winning the YA Award, and Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll (Faber) taking home the Middle Grade Award.
Alan Staton, head of marketing and communications at the Booksellers Association, which co-ordinates the awards, hailed the winning and shortlisted titles as "fantastic reads" which "will inspire many presents for book lovers this Christmas."
Alex de Berry, m.d. at National Book Tokens, meanwhile, praised the "exciting and diverse" winners, adding: "I’m sure that all of them will be on many people’s Christmas wish lists. We are very proud to be part of the BAMB Readers Awards. Unlike other awards, the Reader Awards celebrate the voices of booksellers and readers, two of the most important groups in the publishing industry.”
Last year, the winner of the Readers' Choice Award was essay collection The Good Immigrant (Unbound).