The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards winners revealed at awards ceremony at Foyles, Charing Cross Road

07/11/2023
Asset featuring the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards winners

The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2023 winners have been announced tonight, with debut novelist Bonnie Garmus taking home two awards for her internationally bestselling book Lessons in Chemistry.
 
Announced at an awards ceremony held at Foyles, Charing Cross Road and hosted by broadcaster and presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards celebrate the best books of the year. With a shortlist curated by booksellers, winners were selected entirely by readers across the UK and Ireland, through a public vote.
 
Winning in two categories – Breakthrough Author and Readers’ Choice – Bonnie Garmus was the star of the night; her own story is nothing short of inspiring. She decided to write a novel in her sixties, and after being rejected by literary agents 98 times, Lessons in Chemistry was finally published in 2022 and rapidly climbed best-seller lists worldwide, holding its spot in the New York Times bestseller list for over 58 weeks. Her book has been translated into 42 languages, as well as being adapted into a series with Apple TV+ which started on Friday 13 October.

Having been shortlisted in the 2022 awards for the same book in hardback, Gabrielle Zevin won in the Fiction category for her New York Times bestselling gaming novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. Strong Female Character by Fern Brady is a game-changing memoir on sexism and neurodiversity and was crowned the winner in the Non-Fiction category. The YA award went to the exciting and hilarious historical rom-com Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher, while Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell, an instant Sunday Times bestseller, won in the Children’s category. Award-winning Scottish poet Michael Pedersen took home the Poetry award for his poetry collection The Cat Prince, exploring the beauty and devastation of love, loss, friendship, and cats.
 
The 2023 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards Winners, as voted by readers:
 
Fiction
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Vintage)
 
Non-Fiction
Strong Female Character by Fern Brady (Brazen)
 
Poetry
 The Cat Prince & Other Stories by Michael Pedersen (Little Brown)
 
Young Adult Fiction
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher (Bloomsbury)
 
Children’s Fiction
Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury)
 
Breakthrough Author
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Transworld)
 
Readers’ Choice
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Transworld)
 
 
Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry, commented: “I can’t begin to adequately express what it means to me to win both the Breakthrough Author Award and the Readers’ Choice Award from Books Are My Bag. Booksellers change lives. Every time someone walks through their door, they connect them to a wider world in a way digital technology can’t. Thank you, booksellers – for maintaining human connections, for selling beautiful, tangible objects that matter, for keeping our communities alive.”
 
 
 
 
Gabrielle Zevin, author of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow said: “Thank you to the readers for reading and for voting. When I think about why the book has found so many readers in the UK, I think it’s because the booksellers have shown my book such enthusiasm and I feel really grateful for that. I wish I was in England to celebrate with all of you and thank you so much.”
 
Katherine Rundell, author of Impossible Creatures, said: “It's such an immense joy to win this award – especially so as it's curated by booksellers, and chosen by readers. Booksellers are among my favourite people – they are doctors for the human heart, able to prescribe the right book that will meet our hunger and hope - they can find you exactly the right jokes, the right texture of story, that you are searching for. And to have been voted for by readers is a true honour – I can't say how grateful I am to everyone who voted for Impossible Creatures.”
 
Lex Croucher, author of Gwen and Art Are Not in Love commented: “It was such an honour just to be nominated for this award, but to win it is beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you so much to the brilliant booksellers who've championed Gwen and Art this year, and to all the very kind readers who voted!"
 
Fern Brady, author of Strong Female Character, said: “I’m so surprised to have this won this amongst such an incredible shortlist. I’m also grateful for the phenomenal support I received from booksellers from very early on. This prize is indebted to them.”
 
Michael Pedersen, author of The Cat Prince, commented: “I’m enthralled, enrapt, elated, and so supremely soppy to have been gifted this fantabulous award — hear music in me from the utter joy of it. The shortlist is bubbling up with brilliance and bravura, and so it's dreamy to be sharing shelf space with each of them. This is my most personal collection yet, it's a quest to reclaim fragments of masculinity I formally deemed failures, to rebrand them as tendernesses and triumphs. And it's a love letter to a friend I'll never be done missing, lionising, marinating in the memory of. To have had this book voted for by booksellers, readers, and the public beyond is the most gorgeous accolade a writer could be gifted. As someone who performs, loiters, and lolls in the majesty of bookshops (nay worships at the altar of them), the support they and their readers have given me here is (quite frankly) life-and-love-affirming. Thank you, thank you, thanks.
 
Now in their eighth year, the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards shortlist was selected by a judging panel of booksellers, including Nick Campbell (Waterstones), Kirsty Hurst (WHSmith), Peri Cimen (Green Heart Books), Juliana Ocampo (Stanfords), Richard Smartt (Thee Book Ends), Red Newsom (Blackwell) and Marie Moser (The Edinburgh Bookshops).
 
The awards were presented on the night by the following booksellers: Peri Cimen (Green Heart Books), Beth Andrew (Stanfords), Kirsty Hurst (WHSmith), Nick Campbell (Waterstones), Marie Moser (The Edinburgh Bookshop), Red Newsom (Blackwell’s Manchester) and Fleur Sinclair (Sevenoaks Bookshop).
 
National Book Tokens is the headline sponsor of the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, which are part of Books Are My Bag  Books Are My Bag is a year-round, consumer-facing campaign, run by the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland. It exists to make connections between bookshops and people who value them; to raise awareness of the work booksellers do within their communities; and to encourage people to do their book-shopping with their local bookshop.
 
For more information visit www.booksaremybag.com and follow the latest developments on social media @booksaremybag / #BAMBReadersAwards