Obama, Porter, and Thunberg make Shortlist for BAMB Awards

Since 2016, the Booksellers Association in the UK and Ireland have presented the Books Are My Bag awards to authors in a wide variety of categories. Unlike most literary prizes, the BAMB awards are voted on by the public. The shortlist is decided by bookshops across the UK and Ireland, but who ultimately wins the prizes is up to readers like you and me.

This year’s shortlist features a lot of fantastic women writers, and more than 77% of the nominated authors are female. Throughout the fiction, nonfiction and young adult categories, these writers tackle serious issues like the environmental crisis, identity, and the ongoing refugee crisis. Some highlight across the shortlist are Michelle Obama’s Becoming (Nonfiction), Max Porter’s Lanny (Fiction), and Greta Thunberg’s No One is Too Small to Make a Difference (Nonfiction). 

Max Porter won a BAMB in 2016 for Grief is the Thing With FeathersHis latest effort, Lannyhas been praised by Heller McAlpin writing for NPR as “a puckish celebration of imagination and free spirits rising above the buzz of societal scolds and the anxieties of parental love.” 


image via the Australian

Obama’s Becoming was bestseller form the moment it hit shelves. It’s received widespread acclaim, even being selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Becoming tells the inspirational story of her entire life, from the South Side of Chicago to the White House.

image via daily express

Greta Thunberg’s No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, a collection of eleven speeches the 16-year-old climate activist has written and presented about global warming, has had a profound influence on the political discourse of the past year. Over 4 million people around the world participated in the global climate strike on September 20, in part due to Thunberg’s decision to strike a year earlier.

Image via wikimedia


The full shortlist, published on the National Book Tokens website, is as follows:


  1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  2. Circe by Madeline Miller
  3. Lanny by Max Porter
  4. Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession
  5. The Binding by Bridget Collins
  6. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan


  1. A Year of Nature Poems by Joseph Coelho and Kelly Louise Judd
  2. Poems to Fall in Love With chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell
  3. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
  4. The Flame by Leonard Cohen
  5. The Girl Aquarium by Jen Campbell
  6. The Poetry Pharmacy Returns by William Sieghart

Young Adult

  1. Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal
  2. Heartstopper Volume One by Alice Oseman
  3. “I Will Not Be Erased”: Our stories about growing up as people of colour by gal-dem
  4. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
  5. Proud by Various Authors (foreword by Juno Dawson)
  6. Toffee by Sarah Crossan

Beautiful Books

  1. All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys
  2. Circe by Madeline Miller, designed by David Mann
  3. How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, photography by Laura Edwards
  4. Migrations: Open Hearts, Open Borders by various contributors with a foreword by Shaun Tan
  5. The Lost Words: Spell Songs by various contributors, including Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, designed by Alison O’Toole, photography by Elly Lucas
  6. The Binding by Bridget Collins, designed by Micaela Alcaino

Featured images via Amazon


  1. A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes
  2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  3. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez
  4. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
  5. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
  6. Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree

CHildren’s Fiction

  1. Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
  2. Malamander by Thomas Taylor
  3. No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton
  4. Pages and Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James
  5. Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone
  6. The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

Breakthrough Author

  1. Candice Carty-Williams (Queenie)
  2. Kerry Hudson (Lowborn)
  3. Onjali Q. Rauf (The Boy at the Back of the Class)
  4. Greta Thunberg (No One is Too Small to Make a Difference)
  5. Ocean Vuong (On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous)
  6. Raynor Winn (The Salt Path)

Readers’ Choice

This category lets readers nominate a book that’s inspired, captivated, or entertained them over the past 12 months! Is there a book you think deserves some love? Head over to the National Book Tokens site and let them know.