If you’re having trouble deciding what to read next, you should always take a look through the lists of award winners; you’re sure to find a fantastic book there.
Of course, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners are guaranteed to be good, but browsing the winner lists of other specialized awards can sometimes lead to some interesting book finds.
These novels were chosen as the finest in their respective categories by thousands of readers worldwide, so you can be certain that you’ll like reading one of them.
In this article, I’ll go through some of my favorite award-winning books that are definitely a must-read for any book lover.
From exciting thrillers to beautiful romances, you’re bound to find something that you will enjoy.
Stephen Graham Jones is well known for his literary and historical fiction, as well as his dark fantasy and horror stories that feature slashers, monsters, ghosts, werewolves, zombies, and other horrors that we all fear.
One of the biggest Native American tribes in the US, the Blackfeet Nation, is located in northwest Montana on a reservation that spans 1.5 million acres.
Although it was technically formed by the Treaty of 1896, the Blackfeet had long since inhabited this area and prospered there before British traders and Americans began to settle there.
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, winner of the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction and the Bram Stoker Award, is set against the backdrop of a wealthy hunting and fishing society long preserved by the bountiful forest lands.
It follows four American Indian men as they fight for their lives in a terrifying conflict following a horrible incident from their youth. It skillfully blends traditional horror, a dramatic story, and sharp social satire.
These childhood friends are helpless as the society and traditions they left behind violently and vengefully catch up to them, being pursued by a creature hell-bent on retribution.
The Only Good Indians is a dark horror book about retaliation and sadness with a central story about identity and the cost of defying tradition.
The four companions are Blackfeet, and while it implies being Native American, not all Indians are the same, thus that identity isn’t universal in this instance, opening up the novel for this exploration.
The book also goes into great length regarding what it means to be an Indigenous person.
Ricky and Lewis stand in for those who leave the reserve but continue to be influenced by it, while Gabe and Cassidy are closely connected to their community.
Sharp character development, flawless pacing, and at times nearly intolerable suspense are all characteristics of this book. This makes The Only Good Indians amazing, horrifying, and perfect for any horror enthusiast.
- Offers a unique perspective of Native American culture through a horror narrative.
- Compelling characters that represent following tradition and straying from tradition.
- Builds stunning tension in each section with good pacing.
- Might be too disturbing for those who don’t usually read horror.
The National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo explores the agony of loss, the difficulty of forgiving, and the bittersweet relationships that define our lives in a novel that is brimming with sadness and love; Clap When You Land.
It is partially based on the tragic events of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed in Queens, New York in 2001 while traveling to the Dominican Republic, killing all 260 aboard, 90% of whom were of Dominican descent.
Despite not knowing it, Camino and Yahaira are the same age and have the same father. Camino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, anticipates her father’s summer trips home from his job in New York.
As is customary, she goes to meet him at the airport when she discovers something terrible has happened.
Yahaira, meanwhile, bid her father farewell while still in New York. Even though she is upset with him but is unable to express why, her world is further shaken when she is brought into the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting with awful news.
When their beloved Papi passes away, his double life collapses, leaving both girls heartbroken.
In addition to dealing with their new, harsher reality without their heroic father, Camino and Yahaira also have to deal with his lies as they come to know one another.
We hear from Yahaira and Camino throughout the book and get to see the story from both of their viewpoints.
The reader experiences the first year after the plane crash with these two immensely different young women as they both deal with a terribly difficult scenario.
We learn about their daily lives, loves, losses, dreams, and anxieties as they work through their grief. We also get to watch them meet and develop a friendship with one another.
Relationships, self-trust, and managing family secrets are the main themes of this pretty short and constrained novel.
In Clap When You Land, there is a lot of love as well as a lot of suffering. It truly is a gripping book that you won’t soon forget.
- Provides a heart-breaking story with moments of optimism.
- An amazing representation of the grieving process.
- The story is presented through two different perspectives, giving a deeper understanding of both characters.
- It’s frustrating knowing that the two girls will never be able to get the answers they want from their father.
In the unsettling psychological thriller The Silent Patient, a woman attacks her husband, and her therapist becomes fixated on finding out why.
Given that it won the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Mystery and Thriller, it will undoubtedly be ideal for those looking to be engrossed in a complex mystery.
The life of Alicia Berenson appears to be idyllic. She is a well-known painter who is married to an acclaimed fashion photographer.
She resides in a lavish home with large windows that looks out onto a park in one of London’s most prestigious neighborhoods.
Gabriel, her husband, arrives home late one evening from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face before going silent.
By being silent and refusing to offer any explanation, Alicia elevates a tragic event into a mystery that captivates the public’s interest and makes her famous.
She, the silent patient, is kept out of the spotlight and tabloids at the Grove, a secure forensic facility in North London, as the value of her artwork soars.
A criminal psychologist named Theo Faber has been eager to work with Alicia for a while.
The pursuit of the truth that threatens to overwhelm him leads him down a winding path into his own motivations in an effort to persuade her to open up and reveal the mystery of why she shot her husband.
The Silent Patient is a somber book that also offers an intriguing mystery, an insightful look at psychotherapy, and a moving examination of the relationship between a patient and a psychiatrist.
Theo tries to put the broken parts of Alicia’s life together and discovers something completely unexpected despite the rigid boundaries of ethics.
It’s a surprisingly profound relationship that considers someone’s life during psychoanalysis.
Alex Michaelides has written screenplays, and despite the fact that this is their first novel, it is clear they are experienced from the great pace and storytelling.
The imagery is very vivid as you read this very filmic story. It certainly merits the literary awards that it has received.
- Great pacing with vivid imagery.
- Explores the unique “patient/doctor” relationship in depth.
- Compelling mystery with surprising twists and turns.
- Has moments of being over-dramatic and far-fetched.
This particular Booker Prize was split between Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, a follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale, and Bernardine Evaristo’s eighth novel, Girl, Woman, Other.
It examines the nuances of the shared black female experience and the realities of being a black woman. It is a homage to contemporary Britain and black women, brimming with life and vigor.
The story follows 12 people, most of whom are black British women, as they navigate the world and develop their identities.
While the lives of each character in each chapter overlap, their experiences, backgrounds, and decisions could not be more dissimilar.
Amma, a lesbian socialist writer, non-binary Morgan, and Shirley, a teacher who feels out of place in Amma’s group, are characters within the book, as is Winsome, a bride who has just arrived from Barbados to an unhappy marriage.
While many of the characters are intimately connected—friends, family members, or lovers—others just go to the same theater on the same night or debate on Twitter.
These intergenerational stories were written over a six-year period by Evaristo, whose earlier volumes examine heritage, the African diaspora, and modern life. Every plot turns the reader into a sympathetic character.
The characters are complicated and flawed. Although there is no unifying narrative, being identified as black brings with it a certain degree of connectivity.
Struggle is a huge theme in Girl, Woman, Other, but it is also about love, joy, and imagination.
The characters of the book—black women of all generations, faiths, classes, political views, and ethnic backgrounds—are brought together for a soap opera-style grand finale.
Even if Evaristo’s world is not perfect, there is something pretty wonderful about it.
It may not be a world that many readers are familiar with, but that does not mean it is not a world that is possible, worth celebrating, and that causes individuals who experience it to reflect on some intriguing issues related to black culture.
- Extensive black representation.
- Colorful and unique characters that all shine individually.
- Plotlines are interwoven to create a cohesive story.
- Might not be relatable to everyone but still gives a good insight into the black culture in Britain.
Maps Of Our Spectacular Bodies is a poetic debut novel that won the Desmond Elliott Award.
It serves as a reflection of illness and death as well as a kaleidoscopic voyage through one woman’s life, told in part by the malevolent voice of her disease.
A person’s relationship to their own body changes when they are diagnosed with a serious illness. This is the experience that Maddie Mortimer’s outstanding book imaginatively and poignantly dramatizes.
Lia, Harry, and their cherished daughter Iris make up a perfectly harmonious family of three.
Their loving home is a welcome haven as Iris struggles to walk the social tightrope of early adolescence.
But as a shocking diagnosis threatens to ruin each of their lives, Lia’s past secrets are thrust into the present, and their immediate environment starts to change.
We learn about the people who influenced Lia’s early life, from her profoundly religious mother to her tumultuous first love, as we are deftly taken through time. Each will establish themselves in turn in the changing of Lia’s body.
A narrative voice is parallel to the story of their lives. The narrator’s identity is purposefully obscured because it may be read as the illness, Lia’s body, a reflection of her mentality, or even genetics itself as it passes down through the generations.
The voice starts out sporadic but gradually gains strength and prominence as the story progresses. It is both an adversary and a consistently dependable presence in Lia’s life.
The narrative sensitively demonstrates how each person deals with the hardships that come with cancer in their own special ways.
Mortimer’s descriptions of many perspectives on the body and how we could rethink our attitude toward our physical selves are also very artistic.
This amazing story unearths the sadness and levity of one woman’s life to a symphonic effect, shifting between the intimate and the epic, the humorous and the heartbreaking.
This book’s breadth and inventiveness are so impressive; they offer a new viewpoint on the psychological and physical effects of illness.
Undoubtedly, reading it will be an emotional and memorable experience.
- Artistic interpretation of how cancer affects the body.
- Interesting combination of two narrative voices.
- Has an extremely poetic quality to the style of writing.
- Some flashback scenes seem irrelevant at times.
A dramatic, terrifying, but ultimately optimistic recreation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust onto the arms of thousands of victims.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, written by Heather Morris, is a testament to how love and humanity can endure even in the most horrific circumstances. It is truly worthy of its Audie Award for Fiction.
Lale Sokolov, a Jew from Slovakia, is forcibly sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in April 1942.
He is hired as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), entrusted with permanently marking his fellow inmates after his captors learned that he speaks multiple languages.
Lale, who had been imprisoned for more than 2 and a half years, sees unbelievable acts of bravery and kindness in addition to horrifying atrocities and cruelty.
He puts his own life in danger by using his position of power to buy food for his fellow captives by exchanging jewelry and money from murdered Jews.
One day, he offers support to a young woman who is shaking while in line to have the tattoo of the number 34902 inked on her arm one day in July 1942.
Gita is her name, and Lale makes a promise to marry her and somehow make it through the camp when they first meet.
The terror that has become his daily reality is depicted in Lale’s story. His encounters with horrifying historical figures, who have become legendary as examples of the worst that humanity has to offer, are truly chilling.
But despite the overwhelming gloom, there was always a sense of possibility in the few joys he discovered in this desolate setting, demonstrating the resilience of the human spirit.
Heather Morris does a fantastic job of bringing this narrative to the reader, capturing the essence of a young man whose life was turned upside down by one of the saddest chapters in human history.
Heather Morris spent years with Lale as he shared memories of his time in Auschwitz-Birkenau with her.
This remarkable work should be read by everyone. Morris is able to capture the spirit of a young man struggling to survive while still doing his best to maintain his humanity in her writing.
She vividly depicts his experience, capturing both the horrors and the moments of optimism.
- Has the perfect balance between sadness and hope.
- Tells a true story with all the unpleasant details.
- Written with amazing amounts of emotion
- The horrors associated with the Holocaust might be too upsetting for some.
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, the highly praised Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner, is a breathtakingly beautiful instant bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy who cross paths in occupied France as both strive to escape the carnage of World War II.
Marie-Laure, a young girl who is blind, resides in Paris close to her father’s place of employment, the Museum of Natural History.
When Marie-Laure is twelve years old, the Nazis have taken over Paris, and she and her father leave for Saint-Malo, a walled city where her great-uncle lives alone in a tall house by the sea.
With them, they hold what might be the museum’s most precious and dangerous gem.
Orphan Werner Pfennig grows up in a mining village in Germany with his younger sister, fascinated by a rudimentary radio they discover that transmits news and tales from places they have never seen.
Werner gains proficiency in creating and maintaining these essential new tools and is hired to use his skill to find the resistance.
Doerr shows how people attempt to be kind to one another despite all circumstances by weaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner together.
It is a tale of bravery and optimism in a world marred by conflict and death. Their hopes are dashed, and the relationships they once had are broken. They must be resilient for both their own sake and the sake of those they care about.
The World War II novel All The Light We Cannot See is a rare gem. The novel is unique because it is so upbeat despite the fact that most people suffer significant harm and not all narratives have happy endings.
Marie provides us with a window into a Nazi-occupied town, and the author does a fantastic job of conveying the suffering of the circumstance.
Werner, on the other hand, goes through a traumatic process of trying to fit in with the Nazi regime.
This is a distinct war story seen from the viewpoint of the younger generations.
The victims are common people, and their town is small and unremarkable, underlining the extensive savagery of the war. There are no major battles or significant conquests; just the circumstance of war.
- Unique perspective of war through the eyes of children.
- Creative and varying plots for the main characters.
- The lives of the main characters are woven together effortlessly.
- Contains disturbing details of Nazi Germany that might upset some readers.
The second book by Hernan Diaz, Trust, was much anticipated. It’s a book about riches and talent, intimacy and trust, and truth and perspective. It won the Kirkus Award, and HBO is now developing a limited series based on it.
The narrative follows Benjamin and Helen Rask through the noise and effervescence of 1920s New York.
She is the smart offbeat daughter of eccentric aristocrats, and he is a famed Wall Street millionaire. They have reached the pinnacle of a world of seemingly limitless luxury together.
Yet, rumors are stoked by the mysteries surrounding their wealth and majesty.
As a decade of excess and speculation comes to an end, rumors about Benjamin’s financial schemes and Helen’s seclusion begin to spread. But the question remains; at what cost have they procured their enormous fortune?
While being presented as a novel, “Trust” is actually a complex quartet of short stories.
The first section is a novella titled “Bonds,” which is credited with being the work of Harold Vanner, a now-forgotten author from the 1930s.
In it, Vanner describes the terrible end of Benjamin Rask, who was then the richest man in America.
Writing under the pen name Vanner, Diaz creates the myth of a cold, reclusive young man who swiftly learns how to manipulate the financial system in order to turn his “respectable inheritance” into an unfathomably huge estate.
But despite Rask’s good fortune, there remains a persistent suspicion that he is controlling the country’s economy and making money initially off people’s gullibility and later off their suffering.
Trust by Hernan Diaz masterfully juxtaposes the stories of all of its protagonists with one another as well as with the existence and viewpoint of a young woman determined to separate fact from fiction.
The end effect is a work that, with each new layer and revelation, grows more thrilling and meaningful.
Persuasive and compelling, Trust draws the reader into a search for the truth while confronting the pull of money that warps reality and how facts are frequently manipulated by power.
It is a literary achievement with a heart and important stakes that restores the voices buried behind the myths that excuse our fundamental injustice. It is an elegant, complex saga.
- Delves into a deep and fascinating mystery.
- Unique and interesting structure.
- Exciting setting of New York in the 1920s.
- The difference between each section can be confusing.
Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction, Matt Haig’s novel, The Midnight Library, presents a fresh take on life after death combined with added elements of mental illness and the willingness, or unwillingness, to live.
A library with an endless number of volumes, each of which tells the tale of a different world, is located somewhere beyond the edge of the cosmos.
The tale of your life as it is is told in one book, and the story of the life you might have had if you had made a different decision at any moment in the past is told in another.
Nora Seed has been fired, her cat is dead, and her brother doesn’t care for her. She attempts suicide one evening late at night. As she enters the library, she is then presented with a choice.
She must look within herself as she moves through the Midnight Library to determine what is truly fulfilling in life and what makes it worthwhile to begin with.
She is faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, pursuing a different career, undoing previous breakups, and achieving her dreams of becoming a glaciologist.
She only needs to open the book in order to enter that life. She can stay if she finds a good life, regardless of what the future may hold.
Haig is Nora’s sympathetic tour guide due to his being honest about his personal struggles with depression.
The emotional core of this book is never diminished by his references to Erwin Schrödinger, string theory, and multiple universes.
Nora’s story is a modern-day fable that explores regret, sadness, and the depth of every day because of its simple yet surreal premise.
The Midnight Library is an inspiring counterbalance to the cult of self-improvement and a beautiful portrayal of existential depression and the lessons it may teach: a manifesto for genuine self-acceptance.
Contrary to its fantastical premise, the book ends up being a celebration of the commonplace, including common truths, common people, and the infinite number of universes that common actions might create.
- Combines the fantastical with the mundane.
- Good representation of mental illness.
- Poses compelling questions about multiverse theory.
- Doesn’t have exciting twists and turns, which might not appeal to some.
My Sister, The Serial Killer is a novel filled with dark humor about the relationship between two sisters when one happens to be a serial killer.
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s exceptional book won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and it’s easy to see why.
When Korede receives a phone call from her sister Ayoola one evening during dinner, she is prepared with bleach, rubber gloves, steel-ribbed nerves, and a strong stomach.
This will be Ayoola’s third “self-defense” murder of a man, and the third mess that her ruthless younger sister has left for Korede to clean up.
Family always comes first in Korede’s eyes, and she would sacrifice anything for her sister. That is, until, Ayoola begins a relationship with a doctor at the hospital where Korede is a nurse.
Korede has loved him for a very long time and doesn’t want to see him end up with a knife in his back. To preserve his life, she must make some tough decisions.
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer, which is set in an upper-middle-class area of Lagos, is a show-stopper in many ways because it is direct and has a wicked sense of humor.
It examines the legacy of abuse, the superficial sexism of Nigeria’s patriarchal society, and the lighthearted yet impactful nature of sibling rivalry.
The sisters’ relationship, which is tight despite their divergent personalities, is what Braithwaite is most interested in throughout the entire book.
She tests their relationship to the limit by putting it under more and more pressure. Instead of being a succession of gory murders and dead-boyfriend jokes, it is a clever, moving look at siblings who are tied together by a secret.
More complex than its title may imply, Korede and her psychopathic younger sister are the subjects of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s lush, dark debut.
A few well-timed twists are woven throughout the compelling narrative of My Sister, The Serial Killer, along with some hilarious remarks about family, coworkers, and dishonest police officers.
By the book’s final chapters, there is so much happening that it is challenging to see how the numerous plotlines are connected.
All of this results in a singular yet unsettling blend of morbid humor, love story, slasher, family tales, and somber reflections on how abusive behavior is passed down through the generations.
- Expertly executed dark comedy.
- Brings together elements of romance and thriller.
- Amazing descriptions of the Nigerian setting.
- The storyline becomes complicated until it comes together at the end.
Finding Your Next Award-Winning Novel
Now that you have some of my best recommendations for award-winning books, here are some things you should look for when choosing your next read.
An excellent novel catches readers’ attention from the first page and doesn’t let go until the very end. Because of this, a solid introduction is among a novel’s most important components.
The beginning of a book provides a chance to introduce the protagonist, highlight the distinctive narrative voice, and communicate the significance of the plot in both fiction and non-fiction works.
A great novel will also establish, or sometimes challenge, the genre norms in its first few chapters.
Readers anticipate, for instance, that a thriller will open with instant action and a fantasy book will open with a scene set in a magical world.
In either case, a brilliant piece of writing is only as good as its introduction, and the first few pages may determine whether you finish the book or put it back on the shelf.
A reader looks for entertainment when they pick up a book. An excellent story captivates the reader from the first page on, from the inciting incident to the building action to the conclusion.
It takes time to outline and draw a story’s plot, and good authors frequently spend endless hours doing so.
As a result, they are aware of the page numbers on which specific events take place before they even start writing.
The narrative will be believable and captivating throughout the entire book if you choose a novel with a strong story structure.
Discovering this framework can also help find something with good pacing, making sure that it doesn’t go too quickly or slowly as you read.
Rich, captivating characters are a hallmark of the majority of great literary fiction works. Readers are drawn in by engaging characters who they can love, loathe, or identify with.
These characters are complex and flawed, just like real people, and when they face challenges and moral dilemmas, they help us understand human nature.
Since readers often see the events of the novel through a character’s point of view, character development and plot are frequently interwoven.
You won’t be able to understand the relevance of plot events and the impact of the story will be diminished if you don’t have a good understanding of each character’s motivations, values, and fears.
The adversaries and supporting cast in great stories are fully realized, in addition to the heroes, who are shown in vivid detail. This is unquestionably a feature to look for in a book.
There’s no doubt that you’ll find an amazing book by looking at some of the award-winners over recent years.
This list is a great starting point when finding your next captivating read. I guarantee that you’ll love whichever one of these award-winning novels you choose to lose yourself in next!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Author Has The Most Awards?
Philip Roth is the author with the most awards. The National Book Award, the NBCC Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker Prize, and many other distinguished honors were among the nine notable accolades that this author received.
What Is The Most Prestigious Book Award?
The most prestigious award a book can win is The Nobel Prize in Literature, which is also the oldest literary award, with the first being given in 1901.
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