As the year comes to a close, it is time for people of the book world to make their choice of the best books of the year. While we await for the winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards, we get to see other literary institutions celebrate another great year of reading.
Since 2012, Waterstones Book of the Year has been a highly anticipated event the bookstore chain has looked forward to. Nominated by their booksellers, the shortlist is judged by many factors ranging from the book’s writing style to the beauty of its production.
Last year’s pick was La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. Let’s see which books are battling for the seventh year title:
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Glittering, with wit and insight, heart and humour, Dolly Alderton’s powerful début weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age – while making you laugh until you fall over. Everything I know About Love is about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty. (Credit: Penguin Books)
The Penguin Classics Book by Henry Eliot
The Penguin Classics Book is a reader’s companion to the largest library of classic literature in the world.
Spanning 4,000 years from the legends of Ancient Mesopotamia to the poetry of the First World War, with Greek tragedies, Icelandic sagas, Japanese epics and much more in between, it encompasses 500 authors and 1,200 books, bringing these to life with lively descriptions, literary connections and beautiful cover designs. (Credit: Particular Books)
Why We Get the Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman
Politicians are consistently voted the least trusted professional group by the UK public. They’ve recently become embroiled in scandals concerning sexual harassment and expenses. Every year, they introduce new legislation that doesn’t do what it sets out to achieve – often with terrible financial and human costs. But, with some notable exceptions, they are decent, hard-working people, doing a hugely difficult and demanding job.
In this searching examination of our political class, award-winning journalist Isabel Hardman tries to square this circle. She lifts the lid on the strange world of Westminster and asks why we end up with representatives with whom we are so unhappy. Filled with forensic analysis and revealing reportage, this landmark and accessible book is a must read for anyone who wants to see a future with better government. (Credit: Atlantic Books)
The Colour of Time: A New History of the World, 1850-1960 by Dan Jones & Marina Amaral
From the mid-19th century, many of the most celebrated moments and personalities in modern history – from Gettysburg to Hiroshima, and from Lincoln to Churchill – have been captured for posterity by the camera lens.
Marina Amaral uses digital techniques, underpinned by painstaking research, to colourise 200 such images embracing an entire century of world history. The results are revelatory, transforming the monochrome of early photography into the vibrant hues of real life. Statesmen and soldiers, as well as the faces of hundreds of ordinary people, thus appear in dramatically vivid guise. The images are organized in ten chronological chapters. Each image is accompanied by a 200-word caption by best-selling historian Dan Jones, telling the stories behind them.
A fusion of amazing pictures and well-chosen words, The Colour of Time offers a unique – and often beautiful – perspective on the past. (Credit: Head of Zeus)
Circe by Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. (Credit: Little, Brown and Company)
National Trust: I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree A Poem for Every Day of the Year by Fiona Waters and Frann Preston-Gannon (Illustrator)
From ice-dusted birch trees on a January night to an autumn glimpse of a hawk in flight, this landmark anthology sings with the power of language to capture the magic of our changing world. Filled with familiar favourites and new discoveries, written by a wide variety of poets, including John Agard, William Blake, Emily Brontë, Charles Causley, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Eleanor Farjeon, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Roger McGough, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare, John Updike, William Wordsworth and many more, it’s a book for all ages to share, inspire, love and treasure.
These thoughtful poems have been gathered from all around the world, and specifically chosen to suit each individual day of the year. The selections were curated by Fiona Waters, a passionate champion of children’s literature. Waters has worked with children’s books all her life as a bookseller, publisher, author and reviewer, and won the CLPE Poetry Prize in 2005. In collecting the poems for I Am the Seed, Fiona and the publisher Nosy Crow have maintained regional spellings and usage, in order to preserve the integrity of the originals. (Credit: Nosy Crow Ltd)
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years.
Sally Rooney’s second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it’s also a novel about love. It’s about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It’s wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. It will make you cry and you will know yourself through it. (Credit: Faber & Faber)
The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by The Secret Barrister
Welcome to the world of the Secret Barrister. These are the stories of life inside the courtroom. They are sometimes funny, often moving and ultimately life-changing.
How can you defend a child-abuser you suspect to be guilty? What do you say to someone sentenced to ten years who you believe to be innocent? What is the law and why do we need it?
And why do they wear those stupid wigs?
From the criminals to the lawyers, the victims, witnesses and officers of the law, here is the best and worst of humanity, all struggling within a broken system which would never be off the front pages if the public knew what it was really like.
Both a searing first-hand account of the human cost of the criminal justice system, and a guide to how we got into this mess, The Secret Barrister wants to show you what it’s really like and why it really matters. (Credit: Picador)
The winner will be chosen by a Waterstones panel, headed by James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstones. The final decision will be announced on Thursday, November 29.