Women’s Prize 2021 Shortlist, Ranked & Reviewed

Tonight, my favourite literary prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, announces its 2021 winner. Every year, I eagerly await this award—I’ve read every winner so far (you can read my ranking of all the previous winners HERE). This year, regardless of who takes the prize, I’ll have already read the winning novel, as I’ve read all of the nominees on the 2021 shortlist. While there were two books on the list I particularly loved, any of the six shortlisted novels would be a worthy addition to the list of winners.

I’ve already shared my reviews on each of these books on my Goodreads account and in my monthly reads posts, but if you need a refresher or you’re trying to decide which of these fabulous shortlisted novels to add to your own TBR, here is my ranking and my thoughts on this year’s shortlist.

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Best books of 2020 (published before 2020)

Thanks to Libby and my local library (well, *cough*, the library where I used to live that has an amazing selection), last year I read a lot more brand new books than usual. However, I still picked up plenty of slightly older reads (usually because the hold lists weren’t quite as long). Following on from my Favourite Books of 2020 (Published in 2020), here are my favourites that were published before last year.

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Best books of 2020 (published in 2020)

For all its many, many faults, 2020 was a great year for reading. I had plenty of time for it, meaning I got through a whopping 107 books. I rediscovered a love for audiobooks. And a glut of incredible new titles meant that I already had something exciting and fresh to read (and a great selection on my library’s Libby meant that there were always new ones coming in on my hold lists, so I read more newly-released titles this year than in some other years), along with my endless list of to-reads from years past.

In fact, I read so many great books this year that I found it really hard to narrow down my favourites. I’ve decided to split my list into two parts: books published in 2020, and books published earlier than 2020.

So whether you’re looking for something hot off the press or a modern classic, here are my picks for best of the year, starting with books newly released in 2020.

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The Women’s Prize for Fiction winners, ranked (10-1)

Last week I wrote about 14 of the 24 Women’s Prize for Fiction winners. Today the 25th winner is announced, I can’t wait! See HERE for details about the prize. And here is my top 10 ranking of previous winners.

Bonus: I’m not going to try to predict this year’s winner because I’ve only read three of the six shortlisted titles, but my favourite of the ones I’ve read is Dominicana by Angie Cruz (although Girl Women Other by Bernardine Evaristo and Weather by Jenny Offill were also both wonderful). I look forward to reading the other nominees soon.

Bonus #2: My favourite previously shortlisted nominees that didn’t win the big prize are Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Circe by Madeline Miller, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and one of my favourite books of all time, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. 

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The Women’s Prize for Fiction winners, ranked (24-11)

There are so many book awards out there, and they all have different characters. By this, I mean that there are some whose winners I generally find aren’t to my personal taste (the Booker), there are some whose winners are a real mixed bag (the Pulitzer), and there are some whose winners I, with only a few exceptions, absolutely love (the Women’s Prize). The Women’s Prize was formerly known as the Orange Prize, the Bailey’s Prize and, as the current name would suggest, it is awarded to a woman (for the best original full-length novel published in English in the UK).

I’ve read all of the 24 Women’s Prize winners and at least 20 other shortlisted titles, and there’s only one I can pick out as being a book I really didn’t enjoy (hint: it only made the Women’s Prize shortlist, but it did win the Booker a few years ago). Most of the winners I’ve liked, really liked, or absolutely loved, but there were some I loved more than others. In anticipation for the 25th award being announced next week, I’ve ranked all the winners and split it up into two posts. Catch my top 10 on the day of the prize announcement next Wednesday, and here are my choices for 24 to 11 (but even these books on the “bottom” half of the list are still well worth a read!).

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Old Friends

Yesterday I did something that, according to Goodreads, I haven’t done in at least four years. I re-read a book.

On Friday night, I finished the last of the books I had downloaded to my Kindle via Libby via my local library (The Year of Less by Cait Flanders) and so while I wait for my next hold to come in (will it be The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel or More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth? I can’t wait to find out), I turned to my bookshelf.

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