Philip Pullman, Kamila Shamsie, Carol Ann Duffy, and Tara Westover are some of the authors whose books have been shortlisted by bookshops for 2018's Books Are My Bag Readers Awards.
Celebrating both established writers and debuts, the 2018 shortlists also include double BAMB Readers Awards winner Matt Haig, poet Charly Cox, who has also written an exclusive Bookshop Day poem, and the author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock Imogen Hermes Gowar.
Spanning seven different categories, the awards have been curated by bookshops, with booksellers selecting the shortlists in each category, while the winners will, for the most part, be chosen by readers. The public vote is open from today, the day before Bookshop Day (Saturday 6th October), until 4th November.
Those shortlist categories open for public vote are: Non-Fiction, Novel, Young Readers - YA, Young Readers - Middle Grade, Breakthrough Author, and Poetry, the latter of which is a new category for 2018. In addition, the public can nominate any book they’ve read in the past year as this year’s Readers’ Choice winner. Finally, the Beautiful Book category is voted for exclusively by booksellers, who will now be choosing a winner from the shortlist of six titles.
Competing in the Non-Fiction category are memoirs including Tara Westover's Educated (Hutchinson), counted as one of Barack Obama's top summer reads, as well as Maggie O’Farrell's emotionally revealing I Am, I Am, I Am (Tinder Press), in which she describes 17 brushes with death. Speaking with The Bookseller, O'Farrell had said she "needed to write it for [herself]" but "wasn’t sure whether it was suitable for public consumption". The other shortlisted books in the category are How Not To Be a Boy by Robert Webb (Canongate Books), Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig (Canongate Books), The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Profile Books), and The Secret Barrister by The Secret Barrister (Picador).
In the Novel category shortlist, in the mix is Kamila Shamsie's Women's Prize for Fiction-winning Home Fire (Bloomsbury Circus), a modern update of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Antigone, exploring the bond between three British-Pakistani siblings - one of whom leaves for Syria with a recruiting agent for Isis. It is joined on the list by Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty (Vintage), The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Harvill Secker), The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (Black Swan), The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Bloomsbury) and Tin Man by Sarah Winman (Tinder Press).
Collections from heavyweights Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney compete in the Poetry category. Shortlisted are: 100 Poems by Seamus Heaney (Faber & Faber), England: Poems from a School edited by Kate Clanchy (Picador), Off the Shelf edited by Carol Ann Duffy (Picador), She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox (HQ), The Last Hedgehog by Pam Ayres, illustrated by Alice Tait (Picador), and The Poetry Pharmacy by Willian Sieghart (Particular Books).
The Young Readers - YA shortlist features the long-awaited first volume in Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust, La Belle Sauvage (Penguin Random House Children's and David Fickling Books), plus A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books), A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood (Scholastic), Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles (Hot Key Books), Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan Children’s Books), and Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne Publishing).
Among the shortlisted books in the Young Readers - Middle Grade category are Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor (Orion Children’s Books), a book set to be adapted for screen by the Oscar-nominated writer of "The Martian" for Twentieth Century Fox, and Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks and Quinton Winter (Quercus), celebrating men with “individual thinking and the courage to reject peer pressure”. Titles that made the cut also include A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens (Puffin), Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy (Scholastic), The 1,000-year-old Boy by Ross Welford (Harper Collins Children’s Books) and The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle (Bloomsbury).
Vying for the accolade of Breakthrough Author are authors including Sophie Mackintosh, whose debut The Water Cure was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Preti Taneja, whose retelling of King Lear, We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press), scooped the Desmond Elliott Prize earlier this year. They compete on a shortlist also including authors A J Pearce (Dear Mrs Bird), Joe Heap (The Rules of Seeing), Laura Carlin (The Wicked Cometh), Polly Clark (Larchfield), Sarah J. Harris (The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder), and Tommy Orange (There There).
The Beautiful Books shortlist comprises: A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood; cover artist: Yehrin Tong (Scholastic); Bookworm by Lucy Mangan; production: Shabana Cho; design: Julia Connolly; illustration: Laura Barrett (Square Peg); Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively design: Chris Bentham; illustration: Katie Scott (Penguin); The Librarian by Sally Vickers; design: Edward Bettinson (Viking); The Wood: The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel; design: Beci Kelly; illustration: Nick Hayes; (Doubleday); and the Virago Modern Classics 40th anniversary series, designed by Hannah Wood, illustrated by Yehrin Tong (Virago, Little Brown).
Alan Staton, Director of Strategy & Communications at the Booksellers Association, said: "Once again the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlist brings together an eclectic mix of titles that celebrate the diverse tastes of bookshops and their customers. I can’t wait to find out the titles that the UK’s booklovers have chosen as their winners at the ceremony on 13th November which brings the 2018 Books Are My Bag campaign to a close."
The winners of each category will be announced on 13th November at an awards ceremony at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, in London.
- Shamsie scoops 2018's Women’s Prize for Fiction
- Finalists Honeyman, Cocozza and Taneja to compete for 2018's Desmond Elliott Prize
- Bush and Winterson to star in 2018's Bradford Literature Festival
- 'Genre-bending' biography of Joseph Conrad wins 2018's Cundill History Prize
- Guy Ware wins 2018's London Short Story Prize