Bennett and McAnulty on Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlists

Bennett and McAnulty on Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlists

Brit Bennett, Dara McAnulty, Kiley Reid and Rutger Bregman are among the authors shortlisted by booksellers for this year's Books Are My Bag Readers Awards.

The annual awards shortlists, revealed on what is this year's Super Thursday (1st October) and sponsored by National Book Tokens, are compiled by bookshops and then put out to a public vote.

Nine debut writers are among the 25-strong shortlists across six categories, with more than half the titles coming from indie presses.

In fiction, Bennett is nominated for The Vanishing Half (Dialogue), alongside Boy Parts by Eliza Clark (Influx Press), The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton (Bloomsbury), Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-joo (Scribner) and Weather by Jenny Offill (Granta).

McAnulty makes the non-fiction shortlist for his Diary of a Young Naturalist (Little Toller), which is up against The Dance Cure by Dr Peter Lovatt (Short Books), Bregman's Humankind (Bloomsbury) and Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent by Priyamvada Gopal (Verso).

The poetry shortlist features Homie by Danez Smith (Vintage), Seagull Seagull by James K Baxter (Gecko Press), Sylvanian Family by Summer Young (Bad Betty Press) and Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year by Britta Teckentrup and Fiona Waters (Nosy Crow).

In YA fiction there are nods for Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi (Pan Macmillan), Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron (Bloomsbury), The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Dawud Anyabwile (Andersen Press) and Heartstopper Vol 3 by Alice Oseman (Hachette Children's).

Children's fiction sees A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (Knights Of) do battle with Blended by Sharon M Draper (Simon & Schuster), Gargantis by Thomas Taylor (Walker) and The Highland Falcon Thief by M G Leonard & Sam Sedgman (Pan Macmillan).

The final category is for breakthrough authors, with a shortlist of Bennett, Greek Myths author Jean Menzies (Dorling Kindersley), Such a Fun Age writer Reid (Bloomsbury) and Booker-shortlisted Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain (Pan Macmillan).

Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the Booksellers Association, said: “Curated by booksellers, the book experts par excellence, the Books Are My Bags Readers Awards are truly special awards. The shortlist always gives a fascinating insight into the reading trends of the year, and this year’s shortlist is particularly poignant given the impact Covid-19 has had on both our reading and shopping habits. Consumers appreciated anew the knowledge, dedication and expertise of booksellers during lockdown; a time when for many books were the only thing to bring hope and comfort. While we were unable to physically browse in bookshops, booksellers found new and creative ways of pairing their customers with the right book at the right time.  

“This year we encourage consumers to think about their Christmas shopping earlier than usual and to support their high street. Whether you shop in-store or online with your local bookshop this Christmas, the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlist is the ultimate book guide for shoppers; there’s something there for everyone. We hope book lovers will continue to support bookshops this Bookshop Day and beyond.”

The public vote opens today, ahead of Bookshop Day this weekend (Saturday 3rd October), to decide the winners across the six categories. The public is invited to vote for a winning title from each shortlist until 25th October, with the winners being announced 10th November at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by restaurant critic and author Grace Dent. The ceremony will be streamed at 5:30 p.m. across the Books Are my Bag YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels.