The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlist announced

12/10/2023
Today, booksellers across the UK and Ireland have revealed their top books of the year, as the shortlist for the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards is announced, sponsored by National Book Tokens and many UK publishers.
 
Unveiled ahead of Bookshop Day (Saturday 14 October), the annual celebration of bookshops big and small, the Readers Awards are the only book awards with a shortlist curated by booksellers. The public vote is now open, with readers encouraged to cast their vote and have their say on the titles and authors they would like to win the awards.
 
On Tuesday 7 November, the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Foyles on Charing Cross Road. This will be hosted by Radzi Chinyanganya, with social media content creator Zubs Covered providing exclusive behind-the-scenes content on the night from their social channels (Instagram: @zubscovered, TikTok: @zubscovered1).
 
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L-R: Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang, Pageboy by Elliot Page, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes, Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell
 
The 2023 Readers Awards shortlist includes: Sunday Times best-selling author Rebecca F. Kuang, for her satire of racial diversity in the publishing industry Yellowface; award-winning actor Elliot Page, for his searing memoir Pageboy; Impossible Creatures, a children’s fantasy book flying off the shelves from author Katherine Rundell; poet, editor and DJ Kayo Chingonyi for his anthology bringing together exceptional Black British poets More Fiya; Sonora Reyes’s The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School, a sharply funny debut YA novel about a queer Mexican American girl navigating Catholic school; Alice Vincent for Why Women Grow – a poignant tribute to gardening and the women who choose to turn their hands to plants; and Sheena Patel for her incisive breakdown of image, Instagram and desire in her bestselling I’m A Fan.
 
The shortlist categories open for public vote are: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Fiction and Breakthrough Author. The public is invited to vote for a winning title from each shortlist until 11pm on Sunday 29th October, using the following link: www.nationalbooktokens.com/vote.
 
In addition to voting in the categories above, the public is invited to nominate their favourite book of the year – any book they’ve read in the past year – as the Readers’ Choice winner.
 
The 2023 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards Shortlist, as chosen by bookshops:
 
Fiction
Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang (HarperCollins Publishers)
Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St. John Mandel (Pan Macmillan)
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber)
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Vintage Publishing)
 
Non-Fiction
Ultra Processed People by Chris van Tulleken (Cornerstone) 
Why Women Grow by Alice Vincent (Canongate)
Pageboy by Elliot Page (Transworld)
Strong Female Character by Fern Brady (Brazen)
 
Poetry
Divisible By Itself and One by Kae Tempest (Pan Macmillan)
More Fiya by Kayo Chingonyi (Canongate)
Bad Diaspora Poems by Momtaza Mehri (Vintage)
The Cat Prince by Michael Pedersen (Little Brown)
 
Young Adult Fiction
Gwen and Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher (Bloomsbury)
Promise Boys by Nick Brooks (Pan Macmillan)
The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes (Faber & Faber)
Girl, Goddess, Queen by Bea Fitzgerald (Penguin)
 
Children’s Fiction
Jamie by L. D. Lapinski (Hachette Childrens Group)
Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury)
The Skull by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)
Greenwild by Pari Thomson, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli (Pan Macmillan)
 
Breakthrough Author
Rebecca F Kuang, author of Babel and Yellowface (HarperCollins Publishers)
Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry (Transworld)
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Chain-Gang All-Stars (Vintage)
Sheena Patel, author of I’m A Fan (Granta Books)
Barbara Kingsolver, shortlisted for the Fiction category, said: Of all the honors that can come to an author, nothing tops the warm feeling of being chosen by booksellers. These people are my tribe, my fellow travelers, and my guardian angels. I owe my career to the booksellers who pressed my early novels into the hands of readers. All I can say is, thanks. You're the best.”
Chris Van Tulken, shortlisted for the Non-Fiction category, said: “This nomination means a huge amount because physical bookshops should be as much a part of every high street as a local greengrocer, baker and butcher. The same forces that have displaced independent food sellers have done the same to many booksellers- and that is primarily what my book is about. There is no group I would rather be nominated by.”
Momtaza Mehri, shortlisted for the Poetry category, said: Being shortlisted is a welcome surprise. One that's made even better by this prize's focus on the appreciation and engagement of voting readers. I'm a reader first, so this means that much more, and feels more treasured.”
Katherine Rundell, shortlisted for the Children’s Fiction category, said: It's such a delight and honour to be shortlisted for this award - especially so because it's curated by booksellers. Without booksellers, we'd be at sea in a cold ocean of algorithms. Booksellers are such champions, for out-of-the-way books, for the strange and the bold - they are the best friend of new ideas and of original thought. I am so grateful for this nomination: it's a real joy.”

Lex Croucher, shortlisted for the Young Adult Fiction category, said: I'm ridiculously thrilled to be shortlisted for this award, one I have coveted from afar for many years, and I'm especially grateful to be nominated on a list that's curated by booksellers, who have been so kind and championed this book from the get-go.”
 
The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, now in their eighth year, are the only book awards curated by booksellers, and with winners chosen by readers. The shortlist judging panel comprises: Nick Campbell (Waterstones), Kirsty Hurst (WHSmith), Peri Cimen (Green Heart Books), Juliana Ocampo (Stanfords), Richard Smartt (The Book Ends), Red Newsom (Blackwell's Manchester) and Marie Moser (The Edinburgh Bookshops).  
 
Marie Moser, Owner of The Edinburgh Bookshop and Readers Awards Judge, said: “It was very special to talk with colleagues from across the country about the books we felt were important this year.  The range of titles shortlisted for the awards reflects both the diversity of UK publishing and the people who sell those books to the public. It was a privilege to be involved in the awards process.”
 
Red Newsom, Lead Bookseller at Blackwell's, Manchester and Readers Awards Judge, said: “It's been a delight to be on the panel to debate and decide on the Books Are My Bag shortlist this year. With such a wide range of exciting and engaging ideas on offer, it was pleasantly difficult to narrow down our final selection!  There's something for everyone in this shortlist; from literary theft to modern myths, from time-travel to Dickens. It feels contemporary, culturally relevant and a great representation of the titles booksellers have been talking about passionately all year.”
 
National Book Tokens is the headline sponsor of the Books Are My Bag Readers and are part of Books Are My Bag – the annual campaign celebrating the vital importance of bookshops.
 
Everyone who votes for the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards will be entered into a prize draw to win one of five £100/€120 National Book Tokens. You can increase their chances of winning by referring other booklovers and inviting them to vote too – you’ll get a bonus entry into the draw for every referral received. Voters just need to share their unique referral link after placing their vote.
 
For more information visit www.booksaremybag.com and follow the latest developments on social media @BooksAreMyBag / #BAMBReadersAwards