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Readers Awards 2017

The only book awards curated by bookshops, chosen by booklovers

Curated by bookshops, chosen by booklovers


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

Returning for a second year, the awards now include two new categories for books written for younger readers, alongside six adult categories. Seven of the shortlists were chosen by booksellers across the UK and Ireland: Popular Fiction, Novel, Non-Fiction, Middle Grade (7-11), Young Adult (12-18), Breakthrough Author and Beautiful Book. The Readers' Choice Award – nominated and voted for entirely by booklovers –  completes the set.


Revealing the winners of the 2017 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards

This year's awards, announced on 21st November, heralded a double win from Adam Kay, whose memoir This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor took home both the Non-Fiction Award and the coveted Readers' Choice Award. Matt Haig enjoyed his second year as a Readers Awards winner after taking home the Non-Fiction Award in 2016; this year he returned to pick up the award for Popular Fiction for his most recent novel, How to Stop Time.

The full winners are as follows:



How to Stop Time

by Matt Haig 



This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

by Adam Kay



The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead



Letters from the Lighthouse

by Emma Carroll



The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas



Kate Tempest

for The Bricks that Built the Houses



The Lost Words

by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris



This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

by Adam Kay


You can view the full shortlists below, or find out about previous winners of the awards. The 2018 shortlist will be revealed on Friday 5th October.


The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards: category shortlists

Popular Fiction Award shortlist

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. But one simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself.


How to Stop Time by Matt HaigTom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. The only thing Tom must not do is fall in love...


Munich by Robert Harris - From the internationally best-selling author comes a new spy thriller about treason and conscience, loyalty and betrayal, set against the backdrop of the fateful Munich Conference of September, 1938.


The Dry by Jane HarperFederal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke - his only alibi for a murder 20 years previous. Falk soon discovers that small towns hide big secrets.


The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan - Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Now, in the twilight of his life, he bequeaths his secret life's mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.


The Power by Naomi AldermanSuddenly - tomorrow or the day after - teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman's extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.


Novel Award shortlist

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore - It is 1792 and Europe is in political turmoil. Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles but is now married to a property developer who has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war.


Conversations with Friends by Sally RooneyFrances, vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin, is drawn in by an older woman and her husband and soon finds her life and relationships spinning out of control.


Hot Milk by Deborah Levy - Sofia, a young anthropologist, travels to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain with her mother, seeking help from a famous consultant - their very last chance - for her mother's lifelong and unexplainable illness. 


Swing Time by Zadie SmithTwo brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about black bodies and what it means to be free. Bursting with energy, Swing Time is Zadie Smith's most ambitious novel yet.


The End We Start From by Megan Hunter - In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting.


The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadCora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, takes a terrifying risk and escapes with another slave, headed for the Underground Railroad. This suspenseful tale of escape and pursuit combines elements of fantasy with an unflinching, painfully truthful depiction of American slavery.


Non-Fiction Award shortlist

East West Street by Philippe Sands - East West Street looks at the personal and intellectual evolution of the two men who simultaneously originated the ideas of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity" in the wake of the atrocities of theThird Reich.


Scribbles in the Margins by Daniel GrayWarm, heartfelt and witty, here are fifty short essays of prose poetry dedicated to the simple joy to be found in reading and the rituals around it, from the smell of books to reading in bed.


The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère - Acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Emmanuel Carrère, explores the double life of a respectable doctor, eighteen years of lies, five murders, and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.


This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay - Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a hilarious no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line.


Travels with my Sketchbook by Chris RiddellAfter two years travelling the length and breadth of the country and meeting thousands of children, Chris Riddell provides a glimpse, through sketches, doodles and paintings, of his incredible journey during his time as Children's Laureate.


Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge - Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance and the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism.



Young Readers - Middle Grade (7-11) Award shortlist

Letters From the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll - February, 1941. Olive and her brother Cliff are evacuated to a Devonshire lighthouse - but Olive has a secret which soon links her to something dark and possibly dangerous.

Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl - When infamous escapologist Jack Door breaks out from Pentonville Prison, he sets out for the town of Brackenbridge, determined to find his missing treasure - the Moonlocket.

Radio Boy by Christian O'ConnellFrom leading breakfast radio star Christian O’Connell comes a brilliant and laugh-out-loud story of an ordinary boy with an extraordinary secret radio show. (Broadcast from his shed.)

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Hannah HornFred, Con, Lila, and Max's plane crashes in the Amazon jungle, leaving them all alone... until Fred finds a map that leads them to a ruined city, and to a secret.

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens & Siobhan Dowd - Ted Spark is visiting his aunt in New York when a painting is stolen from the Guggenheim Museum - and his aunt is blamed for the crime! Can Ted find the real culprit?

Who Let the Gods Out by Maz EvansElliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. Elliot must turn to the old Olympian gods for help - but are they up to the task?


Young Readers - Young Adult (12-18) Award shortlist

Ink by Alice BroadwayEvery action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. Leora is desperate to see her father's memory preserved, but in a world where your life story is written on your skin, will he prove worthy?

Piglettes by Clémentine Beauvais - Mireille, Astrid and Hakima are voted the three ugliest girls in their school, but does that mean they’re going to sit around crying about it? Well… yes, a bit, but not for long! A wickedly funny road-trip story.

Release by Patrick NessIt’s Saturday, it’s summer and, although he doesn’t know it yet, everything in Adam Thorn’s life is going to fall apart. A new classic about teenage relationships, it's the most tender and personal novel from Patrick Ness yet.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - Sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend by a police officer. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally NichollsThrough rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird - Omar and his family are driven from their Syrian home by war, taking with them only what they can carry. Yet no matter how far they run, the shadow of war follows them - where do you go when you can't go home?


Breakthrough Author Award shortlist

Breakthrough Author AwardAbir Mukherjee (A Necessary Evil) - Abir Mukherjee grew up in the west of Scotland. At the age of fifteen, his best friend made him read Gorky Park and he’s been a fan of crime fiction ever since. The child of immigrants from India, A Rising Man, his award-winning debut novel, was inspired by a desire to learn more about a crucial yet often forgotten period in Anglo-Indian history. It became the first in a series starring Captain Sam Wyndham and ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee. Abir lives in London with his wife and two sons.

Kate Tempest (The Bricks that Built the Houses) - Kate Tempest was born in London in 1985. She has published two plays, Wasted and Hopelessly Devoted, and two collections of poetry, Everything Speaks in its Own Way and the acclaimed Hold Your Own. Her epic poem, 'Brand New Ancients', won the 2012 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Her album Everybody Down was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Music Prize. She is a Next Generation Poet. The Bricks that Built the Houses is her first novel.

Édouard Louis (The End of Eddy) - Édouard Louis was born in 1992 and raised in the town of Hallencourt in the North of France, which is the setting of his first autobiographical novel, The End of Eddy. The book confronts the poverty, racism and alcoholism Édouard faced during his childhood - upon its publication in France, where it became a bestseller, it garndered extensive media attention and gave rise to debate and controversy over perceptions of the working class in France. It has since been translated into over 20 languages.

Mary Paulson-Ellis (The Other Mrs Walker) – Mary Paulson-Ellis lives in Edinburgh. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and was awarded the inaugural Curtis Brown Prize for Fiction in 2009 and the Maverick Award from the Tom McGrath Trust in 2011. Her short stories and non-fiction have been published in a variety of anthologies and magazines including New Writing Scotland, Gutter and the Herald. The Other Mrs Walker is her debut novel.

Fiona Mozley (Elmet) - Fiona Mozley was born in Hackney but grew up in York and studied at Cambridge before moving to Buenos Aires for a year - without speaking any Spanish. After briefly working at a literary agency in London, she moved back to York to complete a PhD in Medieval Studies. She also has a weekend job at The Little Apple Bookshop in York. Elmet is her first novel and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017.

Harriet Cummings (We All Began as Strangers) - Harriet Cummings is a freelance writer with a background in history of art and gender studies. As a script writer, she has had work performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as well as independent venues around London. While studying at Faber Academy, Harriet threw herself into her first novel and hasn't looked back since. She lives in Leamington Spa with her husband and springer spaniel.



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 shortlist is as follows:


As Kingfishers Catch Fire - Alex Preston & Neil Gower (designed by Nico Taylor)

The Bedlam Stacks - Natasha Pulley (designed by David Mann)

Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi (designed by Nathan Burton)

The Lost Words - words by Robert Macfarlane and images by Jackie Morris

Ravilious & Co - Andy Friend (designed by Lisa Ifsits)

Tangleweed and Brine - Deirdre Sullivan (designed by Gráinne Clear and illustrations by Karen Vaughan)


Vote & Competition - Terms and Conditions

10 x winners will win a £100 (€115) National Book Token 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 votes received through the main voting page at as well as votes placed by young readers (aged 7-18) through the Young Readers Award voting page at Duplicate entries will not be accepted. 
  • The prizes are non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives.
  • The public vote and prize draw close at 23:59 on 13th November 2017. 
  • 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.
  • By entering, entrants acknowledge that this competition is a game of chance, which does not involve exercising any skill or judgement.
  • 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.
  • The promoters’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Promoter: Book Tokens Ltd, 6 Bell Yard, London, WC2A 2JR.