Share 8 Prize-winning Books to Read During Book Awards Season

8 Prize-winning Books to Read During Book Awards Season

We are passionate readers who love nothing more than discovering fantastic books and sharing them with friends. We recommend books that move us to laughter and tears—and everything in between. Trust us when we say, "You've got to read this!"

With the National Book Awards around the corner—think the Oscars but for books—we’re celebrating wins with our favorite authors and reminiscing on prize-winning fiction from the past. Here are some award-winning novels we’re forever reading and recommending.


The Shipping News
by Annie Proulx

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1994

THE SHIPPING NEWS is a vigorous, darkly comic, and magical portrait of a contemporary family that moves to Newfoundland where they must face their personal demons as a long winter closes in.

Read the full review of THE SHIPPING NEWS.

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The Shipping News
Annie Proulx

Awarded the prize in 1994, THE SHIPPING NEWS is an enchanting look at the contemporary American family. When a third-rate newspaper hack’s cheating wife dies, he and his daughters move to Newfoundland, where they must face their personal demons as a long winter closes in.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett

Winner of the PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction, 2002

BEL CANTO is set in South America at a birthday party hosted by the country’s vice president. Rozanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has just finished a mesmerizing performance when a band of terrorists breaks into the house and holds everyone for ransom.

Read the full review of BEL CANTO.

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Bel Canto
Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel is set somewhere in South America at a birthday party hosted by the country’s vice president. Rozanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has just finished a mesmerizing performance when a band of terrorists breaks into the house and holds everyone for ransom. Salon calls Bel Canto “a story of passionate, doomed love; of the glory of art; of the triumph of our shared humanity over the forces that divide us.” OTS calls it “the most elegant, meditative hostage-takeover novel ever.”

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The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton

Winner of the Man Booker Prize, 2013

Eleanor Catton’s gorgeous, vivid writing makes the scenes in this masterpiece—like the one in which 12 men secretly gather to discuss a series of baffling events—unforgettable. Rich and utterly absorbing, THE LUMINARIES is an incredible tale of fortunes and fates set amid New Zealand’s gold rush.

Read the full review of THE LUMINARIES.

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The Luminaries
Eleanor Catton

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We like big books and we cannot lie—we buy them, we shelve them, and we stare at them, promising that someday, when we have the time, we’ll read them. Winter is the perfect season for crossing some of those wonderful doorstops off your list.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Mr. Mercedes
by Stephen King

Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, 2015

Retired cop Bill Hodges feels depressed and purposeless, still haunted by the one that got away—a sadistic killer who drove a Mercedes into the crowd at a job fair. But when he receives a taunting letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes killer, Hodges will have to come out of retirement to prevent another massacre.

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Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King

Retired cop Bill Hodges feels depressed and purposeless, still haunted by the one that got away—a sadistic killer who drove a Mercedes into the crowd at a job fair. But when he receives a taunting letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes killer, Hodges will have to come out of retirement to prevent another massacre.

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MENTIONED IN:

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The Blazing World
by Siri Hustvedt

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, 2014

After years of being overlooked in the New York art scene, Harriet Burden hatches a plan to bring her brilliance to light: she enlists three young men to present her work as their own and, almost instantly, her art is a success. When she steps forward to take the credit, the third man betrays her, leading to a complex and fatal game of cat and mouse. Intricate and provocative, Siri Hustvedt’s THE BLAZING WORLD reconstructs its explosive story through letters, newspaper clippings, and journal entries.

Read the full review of THE BLAZING WORLD.

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The Blazing World
Siri Hustvedt

Intellectually ambitious, electric in its prose, and emotionally satisfying, The Blazing World confronts the joy and fury of Harriet Burden, an artist whose work has long been dismissed and ignored by the male-dominated art world. Longlisted for 2014’s prestigious Man Booker Prize and described by NPR as “complex, astonishing, harrowing, and utterly, completely engrossing,” it is a polyphonic tour de force from one of America’s most fearless writers.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward

National Book Award Winner for Fiction, 2017

Thirteen-year-old Jojo and his younger sister accompany their mother on a trip through Mississippi to pick up their father from the state penitentiary. This evocative family saga examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power—and limitations—of family bonds.

Read the full review of SING, UNBURIED, SING.

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Sing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward

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There There
by Tommy Orange

Winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, 2018

THERE THERE is a powerful and timely ensemble novel of 12 unforgettable characters—all urban Native Americans living in Oakland, California—who converge and collide on one fateful day at the Big Oakland Powwow. It's a fierce, funny, suspenseful, and modern portrait of an America few of us have ever seen, and one of the most talked about books of the year.

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There There
Tommy Orange

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Home Fire
by Kamila Shamsie

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2018

Isma accepts an invitation to pursue her dreams in America, but she can’t stop worrying about the younger siblings she leaves behind: Aneeka, her beautiful but headstrong sister living in London, and Parvaiz, her brother who disappeared and submitted himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then the son of a powerful political figure enters the picture, pushing both families to a breaking point. HOME FIRE is an incredible story of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences.

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Home Fire
Kamila Shamsie

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MENTIONED IN:

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