Waterstones Book of the Year 2013

The Waterstones Book of the Year award shortlist was announced today.  The nominated books are:

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

Maps by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński

Love, Nina: Despatches of Family Life by Nina Stibbe

Stoner by John L. Williams

As far as I’m aware (and please do correct me if I’m wrong), the Waterstones Book of the Year is a fairly new award.  I particularly like the idea of books being nominated by booksellers who work for Waterstones and are passionate about a range of books which stretches beyond the prominent displays of the latest bestsellers.  Like the Costa Prize, the Waterstones Book of the Year shortlist includes different types of books (fiction, non-fiction, graphic novel etc).  While there was much comment of the eclectic Man Booker shortlist this year, at least they were all novels.  The judges for the Waterstones prize have the arguably more difficult task of judging the merits of a graphic novel compared to a collection of letters.

Last year, ‘Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts)’ by Russell Norman won, beating ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ to the prize and proving that Hilary Mantel didn’t actually win everything last year even if it seemed like she did.  Out of this year’s shortlist, I have read ‘Life After Life’ and ‘Levels of Life’ which I both really enjoyed and I am also quite keen to read ‘Stoner’ which has had a recent revival following a recommendation by Ian McEwan.  The other three books are less well-known.  ‘The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil’ is a graphic novel fairytale for adults while ‘Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life’ is a collection of letters written by a nanny working for a rich family in London.  The winner will be announced on 3rd December.

P.S. I now have a full-time job which means I am gainfully employed for the foreseeable future and will have more money for books (hooray).  However, I now have considerably less time to spend on my blog (boo).  Reviews will probably be posted at the weekends from now on with the odd review or news feature in the middle of the week when I can.


Filed under Books

13 responses to “Waterstones Book of the Year 2013

  1. Love, Nina…was reviewed by Nick Hornby in his amazing ‘Stuff I’ve Been Reading’ column for the US arts and culture monthly magazine ‘The Believer’ and sounds absolutely hilarious – glad to see it’s been nominated!


    (Incidentally, Hornby’s column is the reason I began book blogging at all: my hero!)



  2. I am so pleased to see this list. I’ve read both Levels of Life and Life after Life and enjoyed both of those so perhaps this list can be trusted to choose the type of book I like, not the cumbersome, lumbersome tomes which turn up on other lists ! Congratulations on the new job.May it be everything you hoped for. I’m now off to start on some more Waterhouse choices. Thanks


  3. What a great list. As much as I love prizes like the Booker, its refreshing to see a more eclectic mix of what’s out there (both pas and present). Good on you Waterstones! I’ve read a few from the list already but definitely keen to read about a gigantic and evil beard…
    Congrats on achieving post-degree 9-5 joy. I personally understand what a hard path it is!


  4. Think I might read Stoner this week as I have seen it in my local library.


  5. mesetageresenfranglais

    Never hear of the Waterstone’s book of the year before!I know, I know…Mind you, I don’t go there anymore or rarely. Life after life is in my wishlist. The others, I don’t know them. I read one book of Julian Barnes and it didn’t rock my boat…
    Anyway, congrats for your job!!Hooray!


  6. I was glad to see ‘Life After Life’ on the list because I don’t think it’s had the recognition it deserved. It will be hard to beat the Barnes, though. Very pleased to hear about the job.


  7. Stoner is a wonderful book – had never heard of it till the deserved McEwan rave.

    I assume Maps is …full of maps? (lovely)


  8. I loved Levels of Life ….but surely the winner must be Stoner …..what a little gem of a book Stoner by John Edward Williams | MadabouttheBooks


  9. Caoimhe O'Brien

    Stoner is a great read. I read it a few years ago so I’m delighted by its recent revival! Hope it wins!


  10. Glad you are gainfully employed. I have for some reason resisted Life After Life. But I will dive in eventually.


  11. First things first: congrats on your job!!!!!

    And secondly, I really want Life After Life to win. It is such a wonderful novel that I don’t understand how it’s been looked over for most of the important prizes…


  12. Congrats on the job!! Balancing work and a blog (and a life!) is a tricky task but I’m sure it’ll all work out perfectly for you. This is a great list from Waterstones. How refreshing to have a departure from literature for a change. (‘Maps’ looks like pure awesomeness)


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