These are the 20 must-read books from the Costa Book Awards 2019 shortlist

It’s that time of the year again: the annual Costa Book Awards are back and this year the competition among the nominees is rife.

The prize, which is the only high-profile book awards solely for UK and Irish authors, is spread across five categories and last night (Tuesday 26 November) this year’s 20 shortlisted books were announced.

Costa Book Awards 2019
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As our fellow bookworms will know, 2019 has seen a whole host of incredible releases in all sorts of genres, from Candice Carty-Williams’ acclaimed debut novel Queenie to Lindsey Hilsum’s narration of her friend Marie Colvin’s life, In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin. 

For those who aren’t familiar with the Costa Book Awards, the prizes are broken down into five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. In each category, only four books have been shortlisted by a team of expects after they received a whopping 701 entries this year.


Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, £9.32, Amazon

To pick the winner from the shortlist, all categories will have three judges each who will have to come to an agreement before handing out the prize to their author of choice. This year, these judges will consist of author Clare Mackintosh, novelist John Boyne and writers Kate Clanchy, Bali Rai and Mahsuda Snaith; historian, author and broadcaster, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb; and poet, critic and songwriter Jade Cuttle.

Each of the five winners will then be announced on 6 January, 2020 and will all receive a £5,000 cash prize. Meanwhile the winner of the overall Costa Book of the Year announced at a separate ceremony in London on January 28 and will receive £30,000.


In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum, £15.13, Amazon

Here’s the full list of nominees this year. Time to update your reading list…

2019 Costa First Novel Award shortlist

  • Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston (Picador)
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Trapeze)
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Viking)
  • The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen (The Borough Press)

2019 Costa Novel Award shortlist

  • Middle England by Jonathan Coe (Viking)
  • Confession with Blue Horses by Sophie Hardach (Head of Zeus)
  • Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Sceptre)
  • Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker)

2019 Costa Biography Award shortlist

  • On Chapel Sands: My mother and other missing persons by Laura Cumming (Chatto & Windus)
  • The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather (WH Allen)
  • In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum (Chatto & Windus)
  • The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels by Adam Nicolson (William Collins)

2019 Costa Poetry Award shortlist

  • Surge by Jay Bernard (Chatto & Windus)
  • Flèche by Mary Jean Chan (Faber & Faber)
  • The Mizzy by Paul Farley (Picador)
  • Reckless Paper Birds by John McCullough (Penned in the Margins)

2019 Costa Children’s Award shortlist

  • Asha & the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan (Chicken House)
  • Crossfire by Malorie Blackman (Penguin Books)
  • In the Shadow of Heroes by Nicholas Bowling (Chicken House)
  • Furious Thing by Jenny Downham (David Fickling Books)