2021 Shortlist for Waterstones Book of the Year

Waterstones, the UK Bookseller, released their yearly shortlist of this year’s best books of the year. The shortlist and award is selected by booksellers.

If you are not looking to add more books to add to your TBR shelf, then reading this shortlist is highly unadvisable, you ‘ll have a hard time tearing your eyes away from these interesting blurbs:

Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and illustrated by Tom de Freston

The shark was beneath my bed, growing large as the room, large as the lighthouse, rising from unfathomable depths until it ripped the whole island from its roots. The bed was a boat, the shark a tide, and it pulled me so far out to sea I was only a speck, a spot, a mote, a dying star in an unending sky…

Julia has followed her mum and dad to live on a remote island for the summer – her dad, for work; her mother, on a determined mission to find the elusive Greenland shark. But when her mother’s obsession threatens to submerge them all, Julia finds herself on an adventure with dark depths and a lighthouse full of hope… (Credit: Hachette Children’s Group)

Storyland: A New Mythology of Britain by Amy Jeffs

Soaked in mist and old magic, Storyland is a new illustrated mythology of Britain, set in its wildest landscapes.

It begins between the Creation and Noah’s Flood, follows the footsteps of the earliest generation of giants from an age when the children of Cain and the progeny of fallen angels walked the earth, to the founding of Britain, England, Wales and Scotland, the birth of Christ, the wars between Britons, Saxons and Vikings, and closes with the arrival of the Normans.

These are retellings of medieval tales of legend, landscape and the yearning to belong, inhabited with characters now half-remembered: Brutus, Albina, Scota, Arthur and Bladud among them. Told with narrative flair, embellished in stunning artworks and glossed with a rich and erudite commentary. We visit beautiful, sacred places that include prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge and Wayland’s Smithy, spanning the length of Britain from the archipelago of Orkney to as far south as Cornwall; mountains and lakes such as Snowdon and Loch Etive and rivers including the Ness, the Soar and the story-silted Thames in a vivid, beautiful tale of our land steeped in myth. It Illuminates a collective memory that still informs the identity and political ambition of these places. (Credit: Quercus Publishing)

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved little sister she leaves behind? (Credit: Wildfire)

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

“Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.” (Credit: Viking)

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

ONE MURDER. FIFTEEN SUSPECTS. CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

There is a mystery to solve in the sleepy town of Lower Lockwood. It starts with the arrival of two secretive newcomers, and ends with a tragic death. Law students Charlotte and Femi have been assigned to the case. Someone has already been sent to prison for murder, but they suspect that they are innocent. And that far darker secrets have yet to be revealed…

Throughout the amateur dramatics society’s disastrous staging of All My Sons and the shady charity appeal for a little girl’s cancer treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Will Charlotte and Femi solve the case? Will you? (Credit: Viking)

Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori and illustrated by Lucille Clerc

In his follow-up to the bestselling Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori takes another trip across the globe, bringing to life the science of plants by revealing how their worlds are intricately entwined with our own history, culture and folklore. From the seemingly familiar tomato and dandelion to the eerie mandrake and Spanish “moss” of Louisiana, each of these stories is full of surprises. Some have a troubling past, while others have ignited human creativity or enabled whole civilizations to flourish. With a colorful cast of characters all brought to life by illustrator Lucille Clerc, this is a botanical journey of beauty and brilliance. (Credit: Laurence King)

Greek Myths: A New Retelling by Charlotte Higgins and drawings by Chris Ofili 

Athena, Alcithoë, Philomela, Arachne, Andromache, Helen, Circe, Penelope. Full of powerful witches, unpredictable gods, and sword-wielding slayers, their stories were also extreme: about families who turn murderously on one another; impossible tasks set by cruel kings; love that goes wrong; wars and journeys and terrible loss. There was magic, there was shapeshifting, there were monsters, there were descents to the land of the dead. Humans and immortals inhabited the same world, which was sometimes perilous, sometimes exciting.
The stories were obviously fantastical. All the same, brothers really do war with each other. People tell the truth but aren’t believed. Wars destroy the innocent. Lovers are parted. Parents endure the grief of losing children. Women suffer violence at the hands of men. The cleverest of people can be blind to what is really going on. The law of the land can contradict what you know to be just. Mysterious diseases devastate cities. Floods and fire tear lives apart. For the Greeks, the word “mûthos” simply meant a traditional tale. In the twenty-first century, we have long left behind the political and religious framework in which these stories first circulated. But their power endures. Greek myths remain true for us because they excavate the very extremes of human experience: sudden, inexplicable catastrophe; radical reversals of fortune; seemingly arbitrary events that transform lives. They deal, in short, in the hard basic facts of the human condition.
(Credit: Pantheon Books)

Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.

Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love? (Credit: Faber & Faber)

You Are A Champion: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice and Be The BEST You Can Be by Marcus Rashford

In You Are a Champion: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice and Be the BEST You Can Be, Marcus Rashford MBE draws on stories from his own life to show you that success is all about the mindset. You’ll find out how positive thinking can change your life, build mental resilience, learn how to navigate adversity and discover the unstoppable power of your own voice. You already have the tools you need to achieve your dreams; you just might not know it yet.

Full of practical advice and engaging illustrations and infographics, this is the empowering and life changing first children’s book from Marcus Rashford MBE, written in collaboration with journalist Carl Anka and featuring top tips from performance psychologist Katie Warriner. (Credit: Pan Macmillan)

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day. (Credit: Quill Tree Books)

The Amur River: Between Russia and China by Colin Thubron

The Amur River is almost unknown. Yet it is the tenth longest river in the world, rising in the Mongolian mountains and flowing through Siberia to the Pacific to form the tense, highly fortified border between Russia and China.

In his eightieth year, Colin Thubron takes a dramatic 3,000-mile long journey from the Amur’s secret source to its giant mouth. Harassed by injury and by arrest from the local police, he makes his way along both the Russian and Chinese shores on horseback, on foot, by boat and via the Trans-Siberian Railway, talking to everyone he meets. By the time he reaches the river’s desolate end, where Russia’s nineteenth-century  (Credit: Vintage Publishing)

British Museum: A History of the World in 25 Cities by
Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Libby VanderPloeg 

A stunningly illustrated book of extraordinary city maps, telling the story of human civilisation throughout history. A gorgeous, large-format gift hardback with a stunning neon cover, A History of the World in 25 Cities features 25 beautifully illustrated city maps from all over the world, from ancient history to the present day. (Credit: Nosy Crow)

The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present by Paul McCartney

In this extraordinary book, with unparalleled candour, Paul McCartney recounts his life and art through the prism of 154 songs from all stages of his career – from his earliest boyhood compositions through the legendary decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his solo albums to the present. Arranged alphabetically to provide a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, it establishes definitive texts of the songs’ lyrics for the first time and describes the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now. Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney’s personal archive – drafts, letters, photographs – never seen before, which make this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time. (Credit: Penguin Books)


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