I love beautifully written books; most award-winning books have beautiful cover designs. So naturally, they always catch my eye. Unfortunately, some covers are so colorful and enticing that it’s hard to choose.
I love that Book Awards honor the author for an outstanding work of literature and encourage reading. In addition, they’re an excellent source of great books – you are almost guaranteed to find a good book once you start browsing.
Most people have heard of The Pulitzer Prize and The National Book Award, awarded for outstanding achievement. But there are also fabulous finds in some of the lesser-known awards. One of my favorites is the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Previously known as the Orange Prize and the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction- it’s one of Britain’s most prestigious awards – celebrating & honoring fiction written by women.
For children, there is the Printz Award, which is given each year for the best book written for teens. Or the Newbery Medal, which honors the most distinguished American children’s book.
Below are some Award-winning books. Browse and see what you think. Like me, you may find one or two you can’t resist.
The Pulitzer Prize
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
There are a lot of important issues addressed in this book – including racism, poverty, and segregation. It’s set in 1930s Georgia and deals with sexual violence within the black slave community and shows the resilience of Black women. There are also themes of love. It’s interesting to note that this book was published in 1982, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983, and is still read and loved today.
National Book Award
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This National Book Award winner is challenging due to the distressing accounts of the punishment and mistreatment of enslaved Black people. Still, we must read this book and others like it. These stories serve as a compelling reminder of the harsh realities of life in the Deep South and the hardships faced by those who tried to escape.
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Beautifully written and intense, with so many layers which capture the complexities of the South and racism. There are themes of poverty, racial profiling, the supernatural, and drug abuse. Hard to read but worth it.
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me is a powerful story that takes the form of a letter from a black father to his son, Samori. It delves deeply into the experience of being a black person in America, conveying the pain of knowing that the police cannot be trusted and represent a constant source of danger rather than protection.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. What has always been a hand-to-mouth existence for the Batiste family is being threatened even further as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them. Their preparations have been pitifully scant, with each person having their own personal struggle going. The book follows 15-year-old Esch and her family as they struggle with the tragedy of the hurricane, survival, and more.
Women’s Prize for Fiction
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
This book is pretty powerful and gripping. It’s inspired by the story of Antigone in Greek mythology, where a woman defies a king to give her brother an honorable burial. However, in this story, the center of attention is British Muslim siblings whose father joins a jihadist group. The book explores Muslim struggles in today’s hostile Western society.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This story tackles love, race, and the unfairness of our criminal justice system. It centers around Roy and Celestial, newlyweds in love, who find themselves dealing with the consequences of Roy being wrongly accused of a serious crime and being sentenced to 12 years in prison. The book goes deep into how this affects everyone involved.
The Orange Prize
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This is a timeless tale of love between two men during the Trojan War. It’s a coming-of-age story about breaking free from social constraints and standing strong in the face of adversity. The story takes the reader into the captivating world of Greek mythology and the unpredictable nature of the gods. With well-researched, beautifully written prose and emotionally charged scenes, keep a box of Kleenex handy.
The Booker Prize
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is a beautiful book with fabulous writing and a heartfelt story. So many people loved the movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson – I know I did. I have been a fan of this award-winning author ever since I read Never Let Me Go, which was also an incredible story and one of my all-time favorites.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Ordinary Grace is such a fantastic read. I absolutely didn’t want it to end. What drew me in were the beautifully developed characters that felt real. And I also loved the 1960s setting and reading about a time when life felt less complicated. It’s a coming-of-age novel about a young boy in rural Minnesota, and it will definitely stir up your emotions.
The John Newbery Medal
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Printz Award
Fire Keepers Daughter by Angeline Boulley
This debut novel is an excellent choice for young adults. It has a gripping mystery, murder, and plenty of intrigue. Moreover, it does a fantastic job of exploring diverse cultures, making it perfect for readers interested in learning about them.
GoodReads Choice Award
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
After attempting suicide, a young woman ends up in a magical library and gets to see how her life would be if she had made different choices. This story makes you realize life is not perfect, and everyone has regrets, parts of their life they would like to re-do. Fabulous read.
The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
This is a powerful read about family and personal identity – twin sisters who forge different paths based on their racial identities. Both sisters are light-skinned blacks; one chooses to live as a black woman while the other decides to be white. The story intimately explores the themes of racism and discrimination in a compelling, well-crafted, and thought-provoking way.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
A twisty tale with a few surprises that most will not see coming. This clever and suspenseful psychological thriller is all about the why and will keep you turning the pages as the truth is uncovered.
The Audie Award
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
This incredibly moving was so well told and packed such an emotional punch that it left me sad. I found myself getting quite teary throughout. It’s impressive how it captured all the feelings of fear and sorrow. Amazingly, this is her first book.
You may also enjoy browsing our Book Awards page for the current winners of the above award categories, plus The Hugo Award, The Caldecott Medal, The National Book Critics Circle Award, The Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, and more. Selections include the winners in categories such as Best Fiction and NonFiction books, Young Adult Literature, and Historical Fiction. Book lovers will not be able to resist many of the selections. Also, just FYI- many of these awards offer prize money.