Waterstones has announced the shortlist for its Book Of The Year prize, which, as the name suggests, is intended to recognise and highlight the best work of fiction or non-fiction that year, as nominated by Waterstones booksellers across the UK. Due to the sheer number of great books published in 2014, they've had to expand the shortlist from six titles to eight in order to reflect the quality and diversity of current publishing - which can only mean good things for us readers!
Another strong candidate is Helen Macdonald's memoir of sorts H Is For Hawk, which won the Samuel Johnson prize earlier this year. An examination of her attempt to come to terms with losing her father, it describes her effort to deal with her grief by taking on the extremely difficult task of training a goshawk. Not an easy book to explain, to be certain, but one that's sure to make an impact.
Also likely to make an impact is Laura Bates' book version of her online Everyday Sexism Project, aptly titled Everyday Sexism. A ground-level catalogue of all the misogyny, harassment and abuse that women receive every day, the fact that they're personal stories told by the victims of these incidents makes it all the more likely to get people to engage in the feminist discussion - which, if you're not paying attention, is a very good thing.
Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a response to Karl Marx's seminal work on economics, is one of the most talked-about business books of the year. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan, who was killed in a car crash five days after graduating from college, is an inspiring examination of the process of trying to figure out what we want to be.
Oliver Jeffers's Once Upon An Alphabet tells twenty-six stories, each inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond by Sabrina Ghayour celebrates the relatively obscure (in the West, at least) cuisine of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton's debut novel, is a thriller set in seventeenth-century Amsterdam which was Waterstones' Fiction Book Of The Month in July.
It's a great list which does an excellent job of highlighting how diverse the publishing market has become: if it interests you, there's a book about it somewhere. The winner will be announced on December 2nd, so in the meantime, get reading!