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Readers Awards 2020

This year's shortlist will be announced – and voting will open – on 1st October 2020. Check back then!


BAMB Readers Awards logo 2018

Revealing the winners of the 2019 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards

The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards are one of a kind. They're the only book awards curated by bookshops and voted for by booklovers.

This year's awards, now in their fourth year, include seven shortlists chosen by booksellers across the UK and Ireland, while the Readers' Choice Award – nominated and voted for entirely by booklovers – completes the set.

You voted in your thousands and the results are now in! Discover the winners, and read about the full shortlists, below - plus head over to Caboodle for a chance to win one of five sets of all the winning titles.





Winners of the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2019



by Madeline Miller



by Michelle Obama


The Flame

by Leonard Cohen


Greta Thunberg

for No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference


Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

by Caroline Criado Pérez


No Ballet Shoes in Syria

by Catherine Bruton



by Sarah Crossan


The Binding

by Bridget Collins, designed by Micaela Alcaino (The Borough Press)


Trevor Goul-Wheeker


Find out more about previous winners of the Awards.



The 2019 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards: category shortlists


Fiction Award shortlist


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream. Until they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined.

Circe by Madeline Miller – Circe grows up, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But she has a dark power: witchcraft. Prize-winning author Madeline Miller's long-awaited second novel puts a feminist spin on a Greek classic.

Lanny by Max Porter Previous Readers Awards winner Max Porter is back on this year's shortlist with his latest novel. There is a village. It belongs to many families. It also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who is listening to them all.

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán HessionTwo quiet friends use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st Century in this poignant and unique debut novel.         

The Binding by Bridget Collins – Emmett's world turns upside down when he learns he is to become apprenticed to a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one he can’t afford to refuse.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan – A slave on a sugar plantation is initiated into a world where people separated by an impossible divide can begin to see each other as human.   


Non-Fiction Award shortlist


A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes – An exploration of the honeybee and the hive, the practices of honey-gathering and the history of our observation of bees.

Becoming by Michelle Obama – Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, from her childhood in Chicago to her time at the world’s most famous address.

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez A work of journalism and activism about women, and the systemic discrimination caused by a data gap that affects half the population.

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg – This book brings you Greta in her own words. Collecting her speeches that have made history across Europe, from the UN to mass street protests.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn – After Raynor learns that her husband is dying, they lose their home and their business. Walking the South West Coast Path changed her perception of 'home'.

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree – The story of the ‘Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife.

Poetry Award shortlist


A Year of Nature Poems by Joseph Coelho and Kelly Louise Judd – A gorgeously illustrated portrait of one complete year in nature, with a poem dedicated to each month from January through December.

Poems to Fall in Love With chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell Former Children’s Laureate and famed illustrator Chris Riddell has selected and illustrated his very favourite classic and modern poems about love.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta – A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist.

The Flame by Leonard Cohen – The final, powerful collection of poetry from cult poet and lyricist Leonard Cohen, selected and ordered in the last few months of his life and introduced by his son Adam Cohen.

The Girl Aquarium by Jen Campbell – The debut collection from award-winning author and former bookseller Jen Campbell, The Girl Aquarium explores the realm of rotten fairy tales, the possession of body and the definition of beauty.

The Poetry Pharmacy Returns by William Sieghart – The Poetry Pharmacist is back on the page - and on our poetry shortlist - with new prescriptions, readers' most-loved poems, and more tried-and-true classics from the pharmacy vault.

Children's Fiction Award shortlist


Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love – A glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world. The debut picture book from Jessica Love.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor – Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls on the wreck of a battleship, where some swear they have seen the unctuous malamander creep…

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton – Aya has arrived in Britain, seeking asylum from war in Syria. When she stumbles across a ballet class, the teacher believes that Aya could earn a prestigious scholarship.

Pages and Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James – Since her mother’s disappearance, Tilly has found comfort at her grandparents’ bookshop. When book characters start to appear, Tilly’s adventures become very real.

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone – Casper hates risks so, it comes as a nasty shock when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell – Vita’s grandfather has been cheated out of his home by a notorious conman. Desperate to make him happy, Vita devises a plan to outwit his enemies.

Young Adult Award shortlist


Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal – Kit de Waal responds to classic Moby-Dick by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl.

Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman – Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between.    

"I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour by gal-dem – Fourteen essays inspired by raw material from their teenage years from gal-dem, the magazine created by young women and non-binary people of colour.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – The second novel from another previous Readers Awards-winner, this is a story about hip hop, freedom of speech and fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you.

Proud by Various Authors (foreword by Juno Dawson) – An anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride.

Toffee by Sarah Crossan – When Allison runs away, she doesn't expect to be taken in by an elderly woman with dementia, who mistakes her for an old friend.


Breakthrough Author Award shortlist

Candice Carty-Williams (Queenie) – Candice Carty-Williams is an author, journalist and screenwriter. In 2016, Candice created and launched the Guardian and 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, the first inclusive initiative of its kind in book publishing. As a journalist she has written for BEAT Magazine, Black Ballad, Refinery 29, Guardian, i-D, Vogue International, Sunday Times Style and more. She will probably always live in South London. Queenie is her debut novel.

Kerry Hudson (Lowborn) – Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust First Book Award and was shortlisted for an array of prizes including the Guardian First Book Award and the Sky Arts Awards. Thirst, her second novel, won the prestigious prix Femina etranger. Lowborn is her first work of non-fiction.

Onjali Q. Rauf (The Boy at the Back of the Class) – Onjali Q. Raúf is the founder of Making Herstory, an organisation mobilising men, women and children from all walks of life to tackle the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. In her spare time she delivers emergency aid convoys for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk, and supports interfaith projects. She specialised in Women’s Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and Oxford University. The Boy at the Back of the Class is her first novel.

Greta Thunberg (No One is Too Small to Make a Difference) – Greta Thunberg was born in 2003. In August 2018, she started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament that has since spread all over the world and now involves over 1 million schoolchildren. The movement is now called Fridays For Future. Thunberg has spoken at climate rallies across Europe. She has won the prestigious Prix Liberté and been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Thunberg is vegan, and doesn't fly, in order to live a low-carbon life.

Ocean Vuong (On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous) – Ocean Vuong is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the Whiting Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His writings have also been featured in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is his first novel.

Raynor Winn (The Salt Path) – Since travelling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. She lives in Cornwall. The Salt Path is her first book. It is a Sunday Times bestseller, winner of The Royal Society of Literature Christopher Bland Prize and was shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award and Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 2018.



Readers' Choice Award

Every year, thousands of people discover brilliant new books on the shelves of their local bookshop. This unique award opens up the floor to you - the reader! This is your chance to tell us which book most captivated, entertained or inspired you over the last 12 months, whether it was a newly-published novel or non-fiction title, or a classic you finally picked up and enjoyed.

Beautiful Book Award shortlist


This special award is shortlisted and voted for exclusively by booksellers. It celebrates the beauty of the physical book and recognises books as artefacts to be treasured. The winner will be decided by votes from booksellers across the country, from the following shortlist:

All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys (Scribble)

Circe by Madeline Miller, designed by David Mann (Bloomsbury)

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, photography by Laura Edwards (Octopus Publishing Group)

Migrations: Open Hearts, Open Borders by various contributors with a foreword by Shaun Tan (Otter-Barry Books Ltd)

The Lost Words: Spell Songs by various contributors, including Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, designed by Alison O’Toole, photography by Elly Lucas (Folk by the Oak)

The Binding by Bridget Collins, designed by Micaela Alcaino (HarperCollins)





Vote & Competition - Terms and Conditions

5 x winners will win a £100 (€120) National Book Tokens gift card.

  • By entering into this vote and prize draw, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • Only one entry per person will be accepted.
  • To be entered into the prize draw, at least one vote must be received for an award category.
  • Winners will be drawn from all valid votes received. Duplicate entries will not be accepted. 
  • The prizes are non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives.
  • By entering, entrants acknowledge that the prize draw is a game of chance, which does not involve exercising any skill or judgement.
  • The public vote and prize draw close at 23:59 on 3rd November 2019. 
  • Voters are allowed one vote per award category; the outcome of the popular vote will directly determine the winner of each category.
  • The competition is open to UK and Republic of Ireland residents except employees of the Booksellers Association, Book Tokens Ltd and employees of participating bookshops.
  • Entrants agree to Book Tokens Ltd using their details in post-competition publicity. Your details will not be used for any other purpose, or passed onto any third parties, unless specified.
  • Book Tokens Ltd. will only use your email address and other personal information as outlined in our privacy policy.
  • We will contact winners by email. In the event of a winner not responding after 7 days, we reserve the right to allocate the prize to another winner.
  • The promoters’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Unsuccessful entrants will not be contacted.
  • Promoter: Book Tokens Ltd, 6 Bell Yard, London, WC2A 2JR.



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