The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlist announced


Bookshops across the UK & Ireland have revealed their favourite books and authors of 2020, as the shortlist for the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, sponsored by National Book Tokens, is announced today.

Announced on Super Thursday – officially the biggest day of new book releases of the year – ahead of Bookshop Day this Saturday 3rd October, this year’s shortlist includes: The Vanishing Half, by New York Time bestseller Brit Bennett; Diary of a Young Naturalist, by 16-year-old Dara McAnulty; the most hopeful book of the pandemic, Humankind by international bestselling author Rutger Bregman; The Devil and the Dark Water by 2018 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards winner Stuart Turton; South Korean sensational #MeToo bestseller Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-joo (translated by Jamie Chang); Cinderella is Dead, a retelling of the popular fairy tale by Kalynn Bayron; and 2019-shortlistee Alice Oseman for Heartstopper Vol 3.

Nine debut writers are among the 25-strong shortlists across six categories. In addition to Cho Nam-joo, Dara McAnulty and Kalynn Bayron, the other debut authors shortlisted are: Eliza Clark for her celebrated novel Boy Parts; Summer Young for her Tracy Emin-like pamphlet Sylvanian Family; Elle McNicoll for her children’s fiction book A Kind of Spark; Jean Menzies for her retellings of mythical tales Greek Myths (illustrator Katie Ponder); Kiley Reid for her Booker longlisted debut Such a Fun Age; Douglas Stuart for his heart-rending novel set in 1980s Glasgow Shuggie Bain.

More than half of this year’s nominated titles – spanning Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Fiction and Breakthrough Author – come from independent publishers, including Influx Press, Granta Books, Little Toller, Verso Books, Bad Betty Press, Nosy Crow and Knights Of. In addition, this year almost 40% of the shortlisted titles re from first-time writers.

The public vote opens today, ahead of Bookshop Day this weekend, to decide the winners across the six categories. The public is invited to vote for a winning title from each shortlist from Thursday 1 October until 11pm of Sunday 25 October, with the winners being announced on Tuesday 10 November at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by restaurant critic and author Grace Dent. The ceremony will be streamed at 5:30pm across the @booksaremybag YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels.

The 2020 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards Shortlist, as chosen by bookshops:


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 (Simon & Schuster)

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Dialogue Books)

Weather by Jenny Offill (Granta Books)



The Dance Cure by Dr Peter Lovatt (Short Books Ltd)

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty (Little Toller Books)

Humankind by Rutger Bregman (Bloomsbury)

Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent by Priyamvada Gopal (Verso Books)



Homie by Danez Smith (Vintage)

Seagull Seagull by James K Baxter (Gecko Press)

Sylvanian Family by Summer Young (Bad Betty Press)

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year by Britta Teckentrup and Fiona Waters (Nosy Crow)


Young Adult Fiction

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi (Pan Macmillan)

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron (Bloomsbury)

The Crossover: Graphic Novel by Kwame Alexander (author), Dawud Anyabwile (illustrator) (Andersen Press)

Heartstopper Vol 3 by Alice Oseman (Hachette Children's Group)


Children’s Fiction

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (Knights Of)

Blended by Sharon M. Draper (Simon & Schuster)

Gargantis by Thomas Taylor (Walker)

The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman (Pan Macmillan)


Breakthrough Author

Brit Bennett author of The Vanishing Half (Dialogue Books)

Jean Menzies author of Greek Myths (Dorling Kindersley)

Kiley Reid author of Such a Fun Age (Bloomsbury)

Douglas Stuart author of Shuggie Bain (Pan Macmillan)

The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, now in their fifth year, are the only book awards curated by booksellers, and voted for by readers. The shortlist panel comprises: Katharine Fry (Blackwell’s), Meera Ghanshamdas (Moon Lane Books), James Routledge (Forum Books), Mog and Pauline Harris (Warwick Books), Amy Vale (Book-ish) and Joe Hedinger (The Book Hive). The shortlist categories open for public vote are: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Fiction and Breakthrough Author. In addition to voting on the shortlisted titles in the categories above, the public are invited to nominate their favourite book of the year – any book they’ve read in the past year – as the Readers’ Choice winner.

The public can vote online at the following link:

The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards are sponsored by National Book Tokens and are part of Books Are My Bag – the annual campaign celebrating the vital importance of bookshops.