30 October 2018
Zoe Ball with Specsavers National Book Awards logo

After a three year hiatus the Specsavers National Book Awards have returned for 2018, with 23 Penguin Random House titles on the shortlist. 

Designed to celebrate the best and most popular books of the year, the award ceremony will be held on Tuesday 20 November and presented by Zoe Ball. Take a look at the shortlist below.

Non-fiction shortlist

  • The Spy and the Traitor

  • *Shortlisted for the 2018 Ballie Gifford Prize*
    *Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018*
    *A top 10 Sunday Times bestseller*

    'THE BEST TRUE SPY STORY I HAVE EVER READ' JOHN LE CARRÉ

    A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians

    On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket.

    The man was a spy for MI6. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia.

    So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of espionage. In The Spy and the Traitor Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of betrayal, duplicity and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever.

    'Macintyre does true-life espionage better than anyone else. The Spy and the Traitor may well be his best book yet' Evening Standard

    'A dazzling non-fiction thriller and an intimate portrait of high-stakes espionage' Guardian

    'A real-life thriller, as tense as John le Carré's novels, or even Ian Fleming's' Economist

  • Find out more

Children's shortlist

  • A Spoonful of Murder

    Murder Most Unladylike Mystery

  • Shortlisted in the Children's Category in the National Book Awards 2018!

    It's the sixth murder mystery for The Detective Society! This time though, one of them is the suspect...

    Carries the Murder Most Unladylike mysteries into new heights . . . meticulously plotted and consistently delightful, and I can't recommend it enough (New Statesman)

    Superb (Telegraph)

    -----

    When Hazel Wong's beloved grandfather passes away, Daisy Wells is all too happy to accompany her friend (and Detective Society Vice President) to Hazel's family estate in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong.

    But when they arrive they discover something they didn't expect: there's a new member of the Wong family.

    Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery.

    Tragedy strikes very close to home, and this time Hazel isn't just the detective. She's been framed for murder!

    The girls must work together like never before, confronting dangerous gangs, mysterious suspects and sinister private detectives to solve the murder and clear Hazel's name - before it's too late . . .

  • Find out more

Young Adult shortlist

  • Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies)

    And Other Lies

  • The Sunday Times Bestseller
    National Book Awards Winner 2018!

    This is the must-read book that every woman needs.

    "Brilliant, hysterical, truthful and real. These essays illuminate the path for our future female leaders." - Reese Witherspoon

    We asked 52 women: what does the F word mean to you?
    The result is extraordinary.

    Curated by journalist and activist Scarlett Curtis, with incredible pieces by:

    Emma Watson - Zoe Sugg - Keira Knightley - Gemma Arterton - Bridget Jones (by Helen Fielding) - Saoirse Ronan - Liv Little - Dolly Alderton - Karen Gillan - Alicia Garza - Jameela Jamil - Kat Dennings - Nimco Ali - Beanie Feldstein - Olivia Perez - Amika George - Evanna Lynch - Akilah Hughes - Tanya Burr - Grace Campbell - Alison Sudol - Elyse Fox - Charlie Craggs - Rhyannon Styles - Skai Jackson - Tasha Bishop - Lolly Adefope - Bronwen Brenner - Dr Alaa Murabit - Trisha Shetty - Jordan Hewson - Amy Trigg - Em Odesser - Emi Mahmoud - Lydia Wilson - Swati Sharma

    Warning: contains a lot of feminism and some explicit content!

    **Published in partnership with Girl Up, the UN women's foundation, royalties will benefit this amazing charity**

    More praise for Feminists Don't Wear Pink:

    "As a feminist who loves pink, I give this brilliant book of essays an enthusiastic "YES"" - Mindy Kaling

    "A refreshing and honest celebration of all that it means to be a woman today." - Fearne Cotton

    "Wonderfully candid, often funny and absolutely necessary, a triumphant rallying call to young women." - The Observer

    "Pick it up and read one story from your favourite columnist or actress, but I guarantee you'll end up reading the full, illuminating collection, and you'll possibly finish it knowing more about your own personal stance than you imagined." - Glamour.co.uk

    "This collection of essays curated by writer Scarlett Curtis is a call-to-arm that allows us to unpick what it means to be a feminist in a safe space." - Stylist.co.uk

    "We advise placing a copy in the hands of every girl (and guy) you know." - Red Magazine

    "Rousing contemporary essays" - The Observer

  • Find out more

International Author shortlist

  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

  • **THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER**

    Sapiens showed us where we came from. Homo Deus looked to the future. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century explores the present.

    How can we protect ourselves from nuclear war, ecological cataclysms and technological disruptions? What can we do about the epidemic of fake news or the threat of terrorism? What should we teach our children?

    Yuval Noah Harari takes us on a thrilling journey through today’s most urgent issues. The golden thread running through his exhilarating new book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change. Are we still capable of understanding the world we have created?

    Fascinatingcompelling[Harari] has teed up a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century’ Bill Gates, New York Times

    ‘Truly mind-expanding… Ultra-topical’ Guardian

  • Find out more

New Writer shortlist

  • The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

  • 'A cracking historical novel – with a twinge of the surreal – about passion and obsession' The Times

    SHORLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018

    One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock finds one of his captains waiting eagerly on his doorstep. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

    As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society, where he meets Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on... and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course.

    What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the legendary destructive power a mermaid is said to possess?

  • Find out more


Highlights of the awards will be shown on the Zoe Ball on Saturday and Zoe Ball on Sunday Christmas specials on ITV1 on 22nd and 23rd December.

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