Bookshops have revealed their favourite books of 2019, with books by Michelle Obama, Max Porter and Greta Thunberg among the shortlisted titles for the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards.
Chosen by bookshops across the UK and Ireland, the shortlist for this year's awards is dominated by women writers - more than 77% of the shortlisted authors are female - while books on environment, identity and the refugee crisis also resonate.
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 a truly special award. The shortlist is always a fascinating insight into the books of the year, and this year is no exception. We’re looking forward to seeing which of the shortlisted titles will become this year’s Christmas bestsellers.”
Previous Books Are My Bag Readers Awards winner Max Porter returns in the fiction category with Lanny (Faber). He goes head to head with Madeline Miller's critically-acclaimed Circe (Bloomsbury) and Women's Prize for Fiction-winning An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Oneworld). The Binding by Bridget Collins (HarperCollins), Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession (Bluemoose Books Ltd) and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Profile) make up the fiction shortlist.
In non-fiction, Raymor Winn's The Salt Path (Michael Joseph) and Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree (Pan Macmillan) will take on No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg (Penguin). Michelle Obama is also shortlisted for Becoming (Viking) alongside Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez (Vintage) and A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes (Simon & Schuster).
Klaus Flugge prize winner Jessica Love is in the running for children's fiction with Julian is a Mermaid alongside Walker Books stablemate Thomas Taylor for Malamander. Pages and Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James (HarperCollins), No Ballet Shoes In Syria by Catherine Bruton (Nosy Crow) and Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone (Simon & Schuster) are also vying for the prize alongside previous shortlistee Katherine Rundell for The Good Thieves (Bloomsbury).
Leonard Cohen's The Flame (Canongate), Poems to Fall in Love With by Chris Riddell (Pan Macmillan) and The Poetry Pharmacy Returns by William Sieghart (Penguin) make the poetry category and face competition from Dean Atta's The Black Flamingo (Hachette Children's Group), The Girl Aquarium by Jen Campbell (Bloodaxe Books) and A Year of Nature Poems by Joseph Coelho and Kelly Louise Judd (Wide Eyed Editions, Quarto).
In the young adult section, Walker scores another double with On The Come Up by Angie Thomas and "I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour by gal-dem. Proud by various authors with foreword by Juno Dawson (Little Tiger Press Group) is in the running alongside Toffee by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury). Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal and Hachette Children's Group stablemate Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman make up the shortlist.
Miller and Collins score second nominations in the beautiful book category, which also features The Lost Words: Spell Songs by various including Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (Folk by the Oak), How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry (Octopus), Migrations: Open Hearts, Open Borders with foreword by Shaun Tan (Otter-Barry Books) and All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble).
Candice Carty-Williams, Raynor Winn, Ocean Vuong, Onjali Q Rauf, Greta Thunberg and Kerry Hudson are shortlisted for breakthrough author.
The public vote opens today, ahead of Bookshop Day (Saturday 5th October), to decide the winners across the seven categories. The public is invited to vote for a winning title from each shortlist from Thursday 3rd October until 11pm of Sunday 3rd November, with the winners being announced on Tuesday 12th November at an awards ceremony at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, in London. The ceremony will be hosted by Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan Stephens.
The book award, now in their fourth year, is the only book awards curated by bookshops, chosen by booklovers, with booksellers selecting the shortlists. In addition, the public can nominate any book they’ve read in the past year as this year’s Readers’ Choice winner. The beautiful book category is voted for exclusively by booksellers, who will now be choosing a winner from the shortlist of six titles. Sponsored by National Book Tokens, the awards are part of Books Are My Bag – the annual campaign celebrating the vital importance of bookshops.