Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Two brilliant word-of-mouth books to pop on your summer reading list

Books.jpg

The books we cherish the most are often the unexpected ones, foisted upon us by fervid friends and colleagues.

There’s something uniquely appetising about discovering a novel that garners its hype from grass root recommendations, as opposed to the bells and whistles that accompany hotly-anticipated hits. 

So, we were delighted to see word-of-mouth fiction pave the way at the British Book Awards this week (as reported via the Guardian).

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry nabbed top honours at the ceremony, as it was crowned fiction book of the year.

This beguiling gothic novel is set in 1893 and tells the story of amateur palaeontologist Cora Seabourne, who, liberated by her husband’s death, is free to investigate rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent has returned to the parish of Aldwinter.


Read more: Stylist meets author and feminist powerhouse Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


The Essex Serpent was not widely known upon release last year, but  sold 40 times more than the initial sales target – this despite the fact that publicist Anne-Marie Fitzgerald only had a three-figure sum to promote it with.

She was also hailed at Monday’s awards, for her "superb planning and execution of a budget campaign for a potentially difficult book".

Book cover

The runaway success of The Essex Serpent saw Chelmsford-born author Perry awarded the Costa fiction award for a novel Stylist described as “unsettling and brilliant”.

“There are some writers who have the ability to feed your soul as you read: they educate and entertain simultaneously,” we said of Perry

The Essex Serpent … made me wish I was a bookseller again so I could press it into the hands of all my customers,” said chair of judges and contributing editor at the Bookseller, Cathy Rentzenbrink. 

“Luckily, booksellers up and down the land felt the same urge and it has been a delight to see the care and attention lavished on this book.”

The Girl of Ink and Stars

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargreave was another word-of-mouth champion at the British Book Awards this week.

Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Prize 2017, this lyrical YA tale follows the journey of cartographer’s daughter Isabella Riosse, who is forbidden to leave the island she lives on.

Spurred on by the disappearance of her best friend, she ventures into the monster-filled wasteland of the island’s Forgotten Territories, armed with her intricate ink maps and knowledge of the stars.


Read more: Broaden your horizons with 12 of the best translated books


With beautifully written prose that’s been compared to the work of Philip Pullman and Frances Hardinge, The Girl of Ink and Stars has flown off shelves and developed a cult fan base among children and adults alike.

JK Rowling

JK Rowling was honoured for her "remarkable" contribution to the books trade

Harry Potter author JK Rowling was also singled out at this week’s event, landing the BA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Book trade.

The writer’s impact on the trade was described as “remarkable” and the panel saluted her as “a loud and proud force for good”.

“Twenty years ago I would hardly have believed I’d have a book published, let alone an accolade as wonderful as this,” she said. “I am truly honoured and overwhelmed.” 

Photos: iStock and Rex Features

Related

books reading.jpg

Book lovers, this is what your reading habits say about you

sheryl-sandberg-advice-for-women-dating.jpg

Sheryl Sandberg on the question every woman should ask on a first date

books.jpg

Book-lovers, this intriguing new site will broaden your horizons

More

The Peter Rabbit trailer has genuinely horrified Beatrix Potter fans

“They’ve… they’ve turned Peter into a frat boy!”

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Sep 2017

Practical Magic is FINALLY getting the prequel of your dreams

Flip the switch and let the cauldron bubble…

by Kayleigh Dray
14 Sep 2017

The Moomins are coming back to TV and the cast is incredible

Ready your Little My topknots

by Amy Swales
12 Sep 2017

Your £10 note is worth a LOT of money if it features this tiny detail

Oh Jane Austen, you’re spoiling us…

by Kayleigh Dray
12 Sep 2017

The Fifty Shades Freed trailer has arrived – and it’s pretty dark

Mrs Grey will see you now

by Amy Swales
11 Sep 2017

10 brilliant books to curl up with this September

From gripping crime fiction to beautiful poetry

by Sarah Shaffi
01 Sep 2017

Puberty guide causes fury with “problematic” explanation of breasts

The book said girls have breasts to make them look “grown-up and attractive”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
30 Aug 2017

The 5 biggest plot holes in Harry Potter, as exposed by fans

Accio problematic plot points!

by Susan Devaney
30 Aug 2017

50 unmissable books to kickstart your autumn reading

Your first look at the essential titles for autumn 2017

by Francesca Brown
25 Aug 2017

The 10 must-read books for anyone with siblings

There's often nothing more page-turning than the secrets between siblings

by Stylist
23 Aug 2017