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Review of the year: October-December

Though the year isn't quite over yet, we're going to try to wrap up the last three months this week...

Posted on 21st December 2013 by Waterstones



Book of the Month: An Officer and a SpyRobert Harris
Non-Fiction Book of the Month: David & Goliath
, Malcolm Gladwell
Children's Book of the Month: Demon Dentist
, David Walliams

There was a poetic flavour to October, starting off with both National Poetry Day and the news that British poet Michael Symmons Roberts had won this year's Forward Poetry Prize for his collection Drysalter.

From poetry to short stories - Sarah Hall was announced as the winner of this year's BBC Short Story Award, meanwhile the master of the genre, Alice Munro, was recognised by being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

There was booky fun aplenty at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and the brand new Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Alex Ferguson released his autobiography in October, which then went on to become the fastest-selling non-fiction book on record. Ever. Meanwhile, after the denials of the month before, Morrissey’s Autobiography hit bookshelves in October - much to the delight of fellow musician and Mancunian Noel Gallagher presumably, who announced in an interview this month that reading fiction was "a waste of f***ing time". Gallagher would be in the minority then when Donna Tartt's long-awaited novel The Goldfinch came out...

In Man Booker world - Eleanor Catton became the youngest ever recipient of the prize for The Luminaries, whilst it was announced that the BBC adaptation of former winner Hilary Mantell's Wolf Hall was to star Peter Kosminsky and Mark Rylance.

There were more winners to look forward to with the announcement of the shortlusts for the TS Eliot Prize, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and the Waterstones Book of the Year - which saw a début graphic novel going up against literary heavyweights.

Elsewhere, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was banned by a New Mexico school after a mother complained that it contained “sexual innuendos and harsh language."

In October, we lost both the bestselling espionage-thriller master Tom Clancy and Oscar Hijuelos, the first Hispanic writer to win the Pulitzer prize for fiction, at the ages of 66 and 62 respectively.




Book of the Month: The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith
Non-Fiction Book of the Month: The Broken Road, Patrick Leigh Fermor
Children’s Book of the Month: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney


The end of the year sees the things getting a little silly...

"Selfie" is announced as the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year. The Antwerp Book Fair set a new "book domino" world record - a 614m long pathway which ran through the fair, using 4,845 second-hand books. There were rumours that a Hunger Games theme park was in development, and the latest YouTube sensation The Fox, with 215 million views, is signed up to be adapted into a children's book in time for Christmas - What Does The Fox Say?

The polls were in too - as the Crime Writers' Association voted Agatha Christie best crime writer ever, and her The Murder of Roger Ackroyd the best ever crime novel – but Sherlock Holmes remained the best serial sleuth. The Scottish Book Trust also revealed that Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting was the nation's favourite novel of the past 50 years.

The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett won this year's Samuel Johnson Prize whilst one of our Waterstones Eleven debut authors of the year - Donal Ryan- took the Guardian's First Book Award. Meanwhile Jamie Reid's Doped beat front-runner I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic to win the 25th William Hill Prize.

But it couldn't all be good news this month, and the literary world were very sad to lose Doris Lessing at the age of 94.



No books of the month for us in December - as we were all too excited about our Waterstones Book of the Year announcement. Ultimately, this was won by John Williams' Stoner - a forgotten novel published originally in 1965 which took booksellers by storm in 2013.

Manil Suri had the dubious honour of being awarded the bad sex award for the depictions of the act in his The City of Devi.

Kent University came under fire after apparently belittling children’s books on their Centre for Creative Writing website by saying "We love writing that is full of ideas, but that is also playful, funny and affecting. You won't write mass-market thrillers or children's fiction on our programmes." They were bombarded with tweets from angry YA and Children’s authors, and eventually apologised. They missed out on the potential wrath of Stephen King, who finally joined Twitter this month, saying “On Twitter at last, and can't think of a thing to say. Some writer I turned out to be.”

Egypt's 'poet of the people' Ahmed Fouad Negm died at 84, whilst Maya Angelou marked the death of Nelson Mandela with a poem - His Day is Done - which the American state would declare a gift from the entire nation.

With the month far from over - we're already looking ahead to 2014 - and hoping it's going to be as exciting and enjoyable year for books as 2013.

Kerry Meech & Dan Lewis


Did you miss the other parts of our review of the year?


Let us know what your bookish highlights of 2013 were in the comments below…