If Only Books Had Legs… Book Awards Galore!

Having a hard time keeping track of all the book awards being announced? Is there really enough red carpet for all of the nominated books and winners, being called out by the critics for being insightful, lyrical, compelling, astonishing, diverse or delightful? 

I propose we start local, with the 2021 Colorado Book Awards sponsored by Colorado Humanities. The “live” awards ceremony just took place on June 26, and you can view it in all its Zoom finery. Of particular note - sisters Kelsey and Tess Freeman took the Creative Nonfiction Award for their title No Option But North: the Migrant World and the Perilous Path Across the Border, a timely chronicle of contemporary migration from Central America and Mexico that peels back the layers of privilege underlying American and Mexican migration policies; and Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary by Sasha Geffen, the general nonfiction winner, which asks and answers “Why has music so often served as an accomplice to transcendent expressions of gender?”.

Let’s widen the regional lens. A bit earlier this year, the Reading the West 2021 Book Awards were announced by the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association, which represents hundreds of bookstores across thirteen western and mid-western states. The virtual ceremony and complete list of winners is available online. My personal favorites? The Mexican Home Kitchen: Traditional Homestyle Recipes That Capture the Flavors and Memories of Mexico by Mely Martinez in the Eating the West category, and All Things Left Wild by James Wade, winner in the Debut Fiction category, which brings new energy to the Western fiction genre.

The National Book Awards are a bit further in the rearview mirror, but the holds lists for these titles are much shorter now than back in Fall 2020! The fiction winner, Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, has quickly become a book club favorite, and with the Olympics imminently happening in Japan, the winner for book in translation, Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri definitely merits a look. Take a look at DPL's list of book clubs, virtual for now but hoping to meet in person soon!

Going international? Consider the An Post Irish Book Awards, which selected A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa as its 2020 winner, or the Arab American Book Awards, which selected The Other Americans by Laila Lalami as the winner in fiction that same year, and was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

If you’re looking for a specific genre, consider the World Fantasy Awards, the W.Y. Boyd Award for Military Fiction, or The Shirley Jackson Awards, which recognize psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.

If your head is spinning with book award reading possibilities, good! We have even more to offer through our subscription database, NoveList. With your Denver Public Library card, you can access this resource 24/7 via either the Recommendations or Research tab on our library homepage. Once you get to NoveList, look at the lower left for the Featured Award Winner, and right below that, click on Browse Awards. You’ll get a top level view of the most popular awards, and links to awards by genres. If you’re curious, you can check out ALL the book awards on NoveList by going to the bottom left of that page and click on Browse All Award Winners and Notable Books. Steady now… there are pages and pages of awards to browse and choose from! And while no one library can own all of these award winners, we’ll do our best to find these for you - just Ask Us!

Written by Dodie on July 5, 2021

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