I love the idea of finding my next favorite author by following the book awards. Unfortunately, the reality is a little different.
Most well-known book awards are published on unwieldy websites that are damn-near impossible to navigate.
In addition to being difficult to track down, the winning books are often selected by critics for critics. These are books that critics read and then congratulate each other for reading. They are just too unpleasant and pretentious to attract most readers.
I created this list in an effort to find the award winning books that people actually want to read. I started with the 30 most well-known book awards and narrowed the list to these eleven. Many of these awards are still listed on websites designed by MC Escher, but the books tend to be well rated and widely read.
Most of these awards have multiple categories, I am only listing the winners that are likely to appeal to readers of popular adult fiction.
The Agatha Awards honor the Traditional Mystery, books typified by the works of Agatha Christie. For our purposes, the genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as "hard-boiled." Full awards list and previous winners at Malice Domestic.
Long Call by Ann Cleeves
In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.
Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.
An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.
The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year's publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002. Full awards list and previous winners at American Library Association.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to ben? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? , how will history remember you?
Follow this link for the 2020 Alex Awards List.
Each year the Audio Publishers Association honors the best titles in audio publishing at a gala awards ceremony. Awards were given in twenty-four categories including Audiobook of the Year. Full awards list and previous winners at Audio Publishers Association.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves-and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.
Now ninety-five years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life - and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it.
Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love. Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other.
Barnes and Noble Book of the Year
Selected by Barnes and Noble Book Sellers. Barnes & Noble booksellers from around the country nominated their top books from 2019, which were then narrowed down to eight titles by a selection committee, including Mr. Daunt. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse was voted on by booksellers as the 2019 Book of the Year. For a complete list of nominees visit Barnes and Noble.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
A book of hope for uncertain times.
Enter the world of Charlie's four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.
The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie's first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.
The leading literary award in the English speaking world, which has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for over 50 years. Awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland. Full awards list and previous winners at Booker Prize.
Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood
Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.
Mystery Writers of America present the Edgar Awards, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious awards in the genre. Full awards list and previous winners at Edgar Awards.
Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.
To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn't hers, left on the page of an old diary: "Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me."
Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?
Goodreads Choice Awards
Goodreads Choice Awards, the only major book awards decided by readers. Full awards list and previous winners at Goodreads.
Testaments by Margaret Atwood
When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her--freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.
The Nebula Awards® are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Founded as the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965 by Damon Knight, the organization began with a charter membership of 78 writers; it now has over 1,500 members, among them many of the leading writers of science fiction and fantasy. Full awards list and previous winners at Nebula.
Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker
In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.
In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce's connection to the world--her music, her purpose--is closed off forever. She does what she has to do: she performs in illegal concerts to a small but passionate community, always evading the law.
Rosemary Laws barely remembers the Before times. She spends her days in Hoodspace, helping customers order all of their goods online for drone delivery--no physical contact with humans needed. By lucky chance, she finds a new job and a new calling: discover amazing musicians and bring their concerts to everyone via virtual reality. The only catch is that she'll have to do something she's never done before and go out in public. Find the illegal concerts and bring musicians into the limelight they deserve. But when she sees how the world could actually be, that won’t be enough.
For distinguished fiction published in book form during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. Full awards list and previous winners at Pulitzer Prize.
Nickel Boys Colson Whitehead
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is a high school senior about to start classes at a local college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”
In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors. Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.
The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision with repercussions that will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.
The book is based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children.
The RITA—the highest award of distinction in romance fiction—recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. 13 Categories. Full awards list and previous winners at RITA Awards.
Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan
Think you know what it's like being a baller's girl?
My fairy tale is upside down.
A happily never after.
I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud.
I was a fool, and his love - fool's gold.
Now there's a new player in the game, August West.
One of the NBA's brightest stars.
He wants me. I want him.
But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won't let me go.
Women’s Prize for Fiction
Celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. Full awards list and previous winners at Women’s Prize for Fiction.
American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a deeply insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward- with hope and pain- into the future.
Book Summaries from Goodreads.
Follow this link for the 2019 Bossy Librarian Book of the Year Selection.
Several of these books are either on my to-be-read list or by authors that I have read and loved in the past. I am most excited for Red, White and Royal Blue, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, and American Marriage.
Which of these award winning books are you excited to read?
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