There’s nothing better than curling up with a lengthy thought-provoking tome when the nights turn long in the fall. Here are several critically acclaimed award-winners that fit the bill perfectly.
Man Booker Prize “promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year.” This year the winner is A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. This book delves into the 1970s in Jamaica, a dangerous and unstable time. It is told as an oral history with many voices lending light to their side of the story. At times dark, challenging and violent, this epic novel is sure to emerge as a classic.
by Anthony Doerr won both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction & Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction this year. This beautifully written novel is about a blind French girl and German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive during World War II. All the Light We Cannot See
The National Book Award was established in 1950 to “celebrate the best of American literature.” Literary greats like William Faulkner, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer and Flannery O’Connor have all won the award. The winner will be announced on November 18th, but until then you can read the finalists and decide for yourself who you would vote for as the winner:
Refund: Stories by Karen E. Bender
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Looking for something a little more obscure?
PEN/Hemingway Award is awarded to a novel or collection of short stories by an American author who has not previously published a book of fiction. It is named after Ernest Hemingway; Mary Hemingway, a member of PEN, founded the award in 1976 to honor the memory of her husband. The 2015 winner is Elegy on Kinderklavier by Arna Bontemps Hemenway. This collection of short stories explores profound loss; death is a lurking, imminent presence in these exquisitely written stories.
PEN/Faulkner Award is given to the author of the year’s best work of fiction by a living American citizen. The winner for this year is Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish. Zou Lei, an undocumented immigrant from China, migrates to America and finds herself slaving in New York’s kitchens. She falls in love with a young man who is a veteran of the Iraq War. They try to forge a new life together that may be possible if they can overcome homelessness and the young man’s nightmares.
Rather read genre fiction?
Hugo Award for Best Novel award the best science fiction or fantasy works that are 40,000 words or more. The 2015 winner is The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, China’s most beloved science fiction author. Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. This is the first book in a trilogy.
Edgars Award named after Edgar Allan Poe are presented by the Mystery Writers of America yearly. They honor the best mystery works of the previous year. The best novel of the year is Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. Perhaps the most terrifying mystery-thriller of King’s career, this compelling story is a classic race-against-the-clock thriller.
The Edgar for the Best First Novel is Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman. When an elderly recluse discovers a corpse on his land, Officer Henry Farrell is drawn into murder investigation that might tear his sleepy community apart. It is a chilling debut that introduces one of the most memorable new characters in detective fiction.
RITA Awards are some of the most prominent awards given throughout the genre of romance fiction. It is presented by the Romance Writers of America.
Baby, It’s You by Jane Graves took the RITA for Contemporary Romance (Long). A runaway bride escapes to the Texas Hill country and lands on a tall, dark and handsome winery owner’s doorstop. It’s a heartwarming romance filled with heartaches, struggles and tough choices.
Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran snatched the RITA for Historical Romance (Long). This sexy Regency romance between a vengeful duke and a fiery redhead will delight with genuine and lovable characters.
Western Writers of America award the Spur Awards annually to distinguished writing about the American West. They have several categories. Bad Country by CB McKenzie won the Best Western Contemporary Novel, which includes any novel focusing on characters, events, places or developments in the American West from 1940 to present. It is set in the Southwest starring a former rodeo cowboy turned private investigator. It’s a noir novel that is as deep and twisty as a desert canyon.
by James D. Crownover picked up the Best Western Historical Novel, which is given to any novel set prior to 1940 that is based on actual historical characters, settings and events in the American West or early frontier. The book is a story of pioneers, pirates, ponies, floods, earthquakes. It tells how the second generation of a Cherokee family found a home on the upper reaches of the Little Red River. Wild Ran the Rivers
James Beard Foundation is a New York City-based national non-profit culinary arts organization named in honor of James Beard, a prolific food writer, teacher, and cookbook author, who was also known as the “Dean of American Cookery.” Their annual awards, considered the “Oscars of the food world” honor exceptional chefs and food writers.
The James Beard Award for Cookbook of the Year went to Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition by David Sterling. An internationally recognized authority on Yucatecan cuisine, chef David Sterling takes you on a gastronomic tour of the peninsula in this unique cookbook. Throughout the journey, Sterling serves up over 275 authentic, thoroughly tested recipes that will appeal to both novice and professional cooks.
The James Beard Award for Writing and Literature goes to The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber. Chef Dan Barber offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste good, too. Looking to the detrimental cooking of our past, and the misguided dining of our present, Barber points to a future “third plate”: a new form of American eating where good farming and good food intersect.
What about for the kids?
Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the American Library Association (ALA) to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The 2015 winner is The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. This lyrical novel features 12-year twin brothers who dominate on the basketball court. It is a fast and furious middle grade novel about family and brotherhood.
Caldecott Medal is also awarded by ALA to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” This year’s winner is The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. The story begins on a magical island where imaginary friends are born. Beekle waits patiently to be chosen by a real child. When is he overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to a bustling city where he finally meets his perfect match. It is a sweet, unforgettable tale.
The ALA awards the Coretta Scott King award to outstanding African American authors and illustrators who have written books about the African-American experience for a youth audience. This year the winner is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged.
Do you have any nonfiction recommendations?
Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction is awarded for a distinguished book of non-fiction by an American author. The 2015 winner is The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes.
Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction was awarded to Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. It is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.