A manifesto on modern day sexism and a debut novel set in 17th-century Amsterdam have made the Waterstones Book of the Year 2014 shortlist.
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates and Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist were ranked among the best reads of the year in the annual competition, based on nominations from Waterstones booksellers across Britain.
Everyday Sexism is a ground breaking examination of casual, daily harassment against women, which began as a social media campaign where 28-year-old Bates simply documented sexist remarks or actions, and invited other women to do the same.
"What actually happened took me completely by surprise," she says. "Every single woman I spoke to had a story. But not from five years ago, or 10. From last week, or yesterday, or 'on my way here today'. And they weren't just random one-off events, but reams and reams of tiny pinpricks – just like my own experiences – so niggling and normalised that to protest each one felt facetious."
The Miniaturist, written by actress-turned-novelist Burton, is an atmospheric literary thriller based around a woman's coming of age. A much-hyped debut novel, it prompted a six-figure bidding war between publishers.
"I wrote The Miniaturist with a love that bordered hate," says 31-year-old Burton. "This book made me cry with frustration. I loved the people in it, and for some crazy reason I had declared myself to be in charge of them. The tussle for responsibility made me hate myself. I hated myself because what I wanted to achieve seemed impossible and so elusive, and yet the novel had my undying commitment."
The shortlist of eight contenders also includes Richard Flanagan's Man Booker Prize winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Sabrina Ghayour's Persiana, a beautiful celebration of cuisine from the Middle East and beyond, counts as one of the four non-fiction entries, as does The Opposite of Loneliness, a posthumous collection of essays and stories from Marina Keegan.
Once Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers is the only children's entry on the shortlist.
The title crowned Waterstones Book of the Year will receive the committed backing of Waterstones branches and booksellers across the UK, as well as support online and through its Loyalty Card programme, which reaches 1.7 million readers. Last year's winner, Stoner by John Williams saw an increase in sales of over 1000% across the Waterstones estate to make it one of 2013's best-selling titles.
The winner will be announced on Monday 1 December. See the shortlist below.
The 2014 Waterstones Book of the Year shortlist
* Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (Simon & Schuster)
* The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador)
* The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
* Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond by Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley)
* Once Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins Children's Books)
* The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan (Simon & Schuster)
* H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Jonathan Cape)
* Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Harvard University Press)