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:
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The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freedland
Anne Frank. Primo Levi. Oskar Schindler. Rudolf Vrba.
In April 1944 nineteen-year-old Rudolf Vrba and fellow inmate Fred Wetzler became the first Jews ever to break out of Auschwitz. Under electrified fences and past armed watchtowers, evading thousands of SS men and slavering dogs, they trekked across marshlands, mountains and rivers to freedom. Vrba’s mission: to reveal to the world the truth of the Holocaust.
In the death factory of Auschwitz, Vrba had become an eyewitness to almost every chilling stage of the Nazis’ process of industrialised murder. The more he saw, the more determined he became to warn the Jews of Europe what fate awaited them. A brilliant student of science and mathematics, he committed each detail to memory, risking everything to collect the first data of the Final Solution. After his escape, that information would form a priceless thirty-two-page report that would reach Roosevelt, Churchill and the pope and eventually save over 200,000 lives.
But the escape from Auschwitz was not his last. After the war, he kept running – from his past, from his home country, from his adopted country, even from his own name. Few knew of the truly extraordinary deed he had done.
Now, at last, Rudolf Vrba’s heroism can be known – and he can take his place alongside those whose stories define history’s darkest chapter. (Credit: John Murrary Press)
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.
But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Meet the unconventional, uncompromising Elizabeth Zott. (Credit: Transworld Publishers Ltd)
Otherlands: A World in the Making by Dr Thomas Halliday
Otherlands is an epic, exhilarating journey into deep time, showing us the Earth as it used to exist, and the worlds that were here before ours. Travelling back in time to the dawn of complex life, and across all seven continents, award-winning young palaeobiologist Thomas Halliday gives us a mesmerizing up close encounter with eras that are normally unimaginably distant.
Halliday immerses us in a series of ancient landscapes, from the mammoth steppe in Ice Age Alaska to the lush rainforests of Eocene Antarctica, with its colonies of giant penguins, to Ediacaran Australia, where the moon is far brighter than ours today. We visit the birthplace of humanity; we hear the crashing of the highest waterfall the Earth has ever known; and we watch as life emerges again after the asteroid hits, and the age of the mammal dawns. These lost worlds seem fantastical and yet every description – whether the colour of a beetle’s shell, the rhythm of pterosaurs in flight or the lingering smell of sulphur in the air – is grounded in the fossil record.
Otherlands is a staggering imaginative feat: an emotional narrative that underscores the tenacity of life – yet also the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, including our own. To read it is to see the last 500 million years not as an endless expanse of unfathomable time, but as a series of worlds, simultaneously fabulous and familiar. (Credit: Penguin Books)
The Story of Art without Men by Katy Hessel
How many women artists do you know? Who makes art history? Did women even work as artists before the twentieth century? And what is the Baroque anyway?
Discover the glittering Sofonisba Anguissola of the Renaissance, the radical work of Harriet Powers in the nineteenth-century USA, and the artist who really invented the Readymade. Explore the Dutch Golden Age, the astonishing work of post-War artists in Latin America, and the women artists defining art in the 2020s. Have your sense of art history overturned, and your eyes opened to many art forms often overlooked or dismissed. From the Cornish coast to Manhattan, Nigeria to Japan this is the history of art as it’s never been told before. (Credit: Cornerstone)
Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang
Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.
Oxford, 1836. The city of dreaming spires. It is the centre of all knowledge and progress in the world. And at its centre is Babel, the Royal Institute of Translation. The tower from which all the power of the Empire flows.
Orphaned in Canton and brought to England by a mysterious guardian, Babel seemed like paradise to Robin Swift. Until it became a prison… but can a student stand against an empire? (Credit: HarperCollins)
Cooking: Simply and Well, for One or Many by Jeremy Lee
From a lifetime of cooking with some of the UK’s greatest chefs – as well as lessons from his cookery teacher mother’s brilliant home cooking – this book is about good food honed from good ingredients whether that be some great potatoes, asparagus or some berries. It is they that invariably and best spark the idea of what to cook for supper. The book is a masterclass in simply things done well.
There are sections on the usefulness and frugality of breadcrumbs, whether black olive crumbs or parsley to serve on spaghetti, impromptu puddings like peaches in wine with bay leaves or plum compote with ricotta and hazelnuts, pea dishes galore, the most useful jams and jellies from a Dundee childhood, classics like chicken with asparagus, potatoes and wild garlic aioli, essentials like anchovy dressing.
Jeremy’s voice is filled with lyric and wit, and a memory, tip or musing is never far from the page in what is sure to be one of the most distinctive cook books published for years. (Credit: HarperCollins)
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Florence, the 1560s. Lucrezia, third daughter of Cosimo de’ Medici, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and to devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of marriage to Alfonso d’Este, ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father to accept on her behalf.
Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate her appears before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?
As Lucrezia sits in uncomfortable finery for the painting which is to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferrarese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess’s future hangs entirely in the balance. (Credit: Headline Publishing)
The Golden Mole: and Other Living Treasure by Katherine Rundell and illustrated by Talya Baldwin
A pangolin’s tongue is longer than its body. It keeps it furled in a nifty pouch near the hip. A swift flies two million kilometres in its lifetime. That’s far enough to get to the moon and back twice over – and then once more to the moon. There’s a fable that storks deliver babies. In fact, the Nazis used them to air-drop propaganda.
Each of these animals is extraordinary. And each of them may soon disappear from the earth.
A lavishly illustrated compendium of the staggering lives of some of the world’s most endangered animals, The Golden Mole is a chance to be awestruck and lovestruck – to fall for the likes of the seahorse, the narwhal and, as astonishing and endangered as them all, the human. (Credit: Faber & Faber)
Heartstopper Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman
Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they’ve never met … until one day when they’re made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realised.
Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us. (Credit: Hachette Children’s Group)
Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman
Thirteen-year-old Skandar Smith has only ever wanted to be a unicorn rider. To be one of the lucky few selected to hatch a unicorn. To bond with it for life; to train together and race for glory; to be a hero.
But just as Skandar’s dream is about to come true, things start to take a more dangerous turn than he could ever have imagined. A dark and twisted enemy has stolen the Island’s most powerful unicorn – and as the threat grows ever closer, Skandar discovers a secret that could blow apart his world forever… (Credit: Simon & Schuster UK)