Barnes & Noble’s third annual “Book of the Year” awards, given to a book by the booksellers working across company stores, is around the corner. This year’s slate of finalists, all selected by booksellers, showcase a wide range of fiction, nonfiction, new, and beloved voices across an array of styles and genres.
“I am so impressed with the shortlist selection from our booksellers,” said Shannon DeVito, Director of Books, Barnes & Noble. “These eight titles are diverse and far-reaching, capturing a wonderful snapshot of the year highlighting books that have been in the public eye and books that flew under the radar. These books showcase all types of writers – beloved authors, musicians, journalists, international superstars and even a pizza consultant.”
The “Book of the Year” designation launched in 2019, is a chance for those working with books and readers to highlight favorites of the year that may or may not be seeing the same honors elsewhere. The first winner of the “Book of the Year” honor was Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse, which was an otherwise little-known title. The book launched its way to the top of the bestsellers list, where it has remained since, and it’s sold over 400,000 copies and Barnes & Noble alone.
World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil was the 2020 winner of the award, a huge win both for the book and its small press, Milkweed.
“2021 has been a banner year for books and an absolute treat for book lovers. Book sales are so strong, bringing readers old and new into our stores, with many of them looking for booksellers’ recommendations. In this age of online shopping, the craft of bookselling has never seemed more important,” said CEO James Daunt. “Our annual award of Book of the Year is a celebration of our love of books. The Barnes & Noble Book of the Year asks of our booksellers which title they are most proud to be selling. We make no other qualification, and we are always amazed at the inspiring nature of the list our booksellers nominate.”
Today In Books Newsletter
Sign up to Today In Books to receive daily news and miscellany from the world of books.
Thank you for signing up! Keep an eye on your inbox.
The eight titles on this year’s shortlist are as follows, with comments from Barnes & Noble Booksellers about why each was selected:
The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, Nikkolas Smith
“This extraordinary book is a great way to speak to all children about our fraught US History while finding a way to celebrate Black heritage. It is beautiful, poetic, and something to be read by everyone. The 1619 Project: Born on the Water is a wonderful book.” – Allyson G, New York, NY
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
“A beautifully written, gorgeous epic that will easily be one of my favorites of the year. An ancient manuscript, the story of a man longing to reach the imaginary paradise of the title, links the many threads of the novel, from 15th century Constantinople to present day Ohio, to a spaceship escaping a ravaged earth in the future. As this lush novel develops, this manuscript survives, sometimes by chance, often shared with love. The characters captured my heart, all just so masterfully drawn. It’s a hard to describe genre-bending novel that I’m sure will be a book club staple. Absolutely loved it! – Karen F, Coral Springs, FL
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
“Crying in H Mart is a clear-eyed marvel of a book about grief and food and life in a complicated family. The prose is sublime, and this is a book to be savored” – Miwa M, Los Angeles, CA
The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present (Two-Volume Set) by Paul McCartney
“When I received a very rare early copy of this stunningly produced experience, I was floored. Though this title is not yet published, the excitement for this book among booksellers is palpable. Since its announcement, we have heard from customers and booksellers alike asking, “Is this as good as it looks?” The answer is yes! It is a masterpiece inside and out, with an attractive case and McCartney’s face on the spine. When you see this, you’ll agree that it is an essential addition to any bibliophile’s library” – Stephanie F, New York, NY
Pizza Czar: Recipes and Know-How from a World-Traveling Pizza Chef by Anthony Falco, Evan Sung (Photographer), Molly Tavoletti (Photographer)
“Anthony Falco of Roberta’s in Brooklyn knows more about pizza than most people. What makes this pizza cookbook special is Falco’s understanding of a wide variety of ingredients which he learned about and experimented with from his many travels around the world. It’s a great-looking book and an amazing resource for any cook.” – Edward A, Portland, OR
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
“A book that’s complex, charming, and current. With unforgettable characters woven into a story that centers round real events in 2020, this book feels like the perfect time capsule to illuminate an explosive year.” – Kat C, Brooklyn, NY
Together by Luke Adam Hawker
“Together takes a philosophical look at the events of 2020 and is a celebration of love, companionship, and kindness. With stunning artwork and sparse, beautiful prose, Together hits all the feels, and may be the book we all need to find hope, and to heal” – John S, Champaign, IL
Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune
“In a year of tumult without and within, this book fractures the brittle shell of callousness we wear and forces us to confront the vulnerability of hope. Accessible, funny, tear-inducing, and compelling, TJ Klune exceeds his previous work here by a significant stride.” – Scott H, Portage, MI
The winner of Barnes and Noble’s “Book of the Year” will be announced November 18. This, along with Barnes & Noble’s annual Top Books list, as well as their various book clubs for readers of all ages, are meant to help excite readers who may otherwise not have discovered these titles. They’re bookseller approved and among the titles those same sellers are most eager to press into reader hands.
Readers are welcome to talk with fellow book lovers and booksellers are this year’s short list for “Book of the Year” across social media, using the hashtag #BNBookOfTheYear.