Waterstones Book of the Year 2020 Shortlist

Since it was first introduced in 2012, Waterstones Book of the Year has become an institution, recognised by readers as a highlight of the calendar and a benchmark of true literary excellence. Nominated by our booksellers, recent winners have included Sally Rooney’s Normal People and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.

As befits a truly extraordinary year, 2020’s selection takes in everything from transformative novels to revelatory non-fiction, and from inspiring children’s writing to exquisite works of reference.

The Shortlist

The Vanishing Half
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£14.99
Hardback
Love in Colour
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£16.99   £14.99
Hardback
One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time
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Exciting Times
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£14.99   £12.99
Hardback
Island Dreams
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£20.00   £17.99
Hardback
Ex Libris
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£16.99
Hardback
Diary of a Young Naturalist
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£16.00   £14.99
Hardback
Hamnet
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£20.00
Hardback
The Book of Hopes
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£12.99   £10.99
Hardback
The Ratline
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£20.00   £17.99
Hardback

The Shortlist in Detail

£14.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
In stock online
Spanning the 1950s to the 1990s and from the Deep South to California, Bennett’s stunning novel follows the journeys of two estranged twin sisters leading very different lives – to the extent of adopting different racial identities.
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£16.99 £14.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
In stock online
Myth and folklore from West Africa to Ancient Greece, vibrantly reimagined in bold, striking prose; Love in Colour beautifully illustrates the timelessness of classic storytelling.
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£20.00 £17.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
In stock online
Having produced one of the sharpest biographies of the last decade in Ma’am Darling, Craig Brown returns with a dynamic, revisionist look at The Beatles and their legacy, fifty years after the band split up.
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£14.99 £12.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
In stock online
Psychologically astute and dryly funny, Exciting Times delivers an enthralling dissection of love, commitment, power and privilege in the international circles of contemporary Hong Kong.
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£20.00 £17.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
In stock online
Beautifully presented with illustrations of maps throughout, Francis’s meditation on the appeal of islands and isolation merges travel writing, memoir and philosophy to create a work at once intensely personal and truly universal.
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£16.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
In stock online
A breathtaking union of piercing prose and exquisite graphic art, legendary critic Kakutani’s primer in one hundred books that have spoken profoundly to her is an invaluable and beautiful resource for all booklovers.
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£16.00 £14.99
Hardback
In stock
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The teenage star of BBC’s Countryfile and social media sensation, Dara McAnulty opens up about his autism and its interrelation to his love of the natural world, as well as providing fascinating practical advice and knowledge about British wildlife.
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£20.00
Hardback
10+ in stock
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One of our greatest living novelists resurrects the short life of Hamnet Shakespeare, the Bard’s only son, in a profoundly moving account of grief, family and genius in an era where life was ever precarious.
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£6.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
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Revised and rewritten for younger readers, Olusoga’s insightful and invaluable history of the Black experience in the British Isles ranges from forgotten Africans in the Roman legions to the multicultural society of the present day.
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£12.99 £10.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
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Curated by the peerless Katherine Rundell and designed with style and grace, The Book of Hopes garners words of possibility and optimism from the finest children’s writers and artists around.
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£20.00 £17.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
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Documenting the shadowy activities of an SS Brigadesfuhrer in the years leading up to his mysterious demise, the award-winning author of East West Street paints a complex picture of insidious evil and encroaching desperation.
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£25.00 £22.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
In stock online
Blessed with stunning illustrations from Britta Teckentrup, the follow-up to former Waterstones Gift of the Year, I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree, celebrates the animal kingdom through a diverse range of poetry, from Lewis Carroll to Grace Nichols.
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Previous Winners

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Added to basket
Normal People
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One
Added to basket
The Essex Serpent
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
The Fox and the Star
Added to basket
The Fox and the Star
Added to basket
The Miniaturist
Added to basket
£8.99   £7.99
Paperback
Stoner
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
POLPO
Added to basket
£26.00
Hardback