19 Award Nominated Books By Women To Add To Your Summer TBR

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Every year, awards season comes and goes in the blink of an eye. And especially in the book world, there are so many titles to keep track of that, by the time an author's book is chosen as the winner, that seems to be the only one we collectively remember. But there are tons of exceptional books by women being nominated for prestigious prizes from the Man Booker to the Pulitzer and, even if they don't turn out the winner, their books definitely still deserve to be read and celebrated. And even if you find literary awards arbitrary, the attention award-winning and award-nominated books get from both readers and the industry is undeniable.

So, while you've already added Colson Whithead's The Underground Railroad to your must-read list, along with Paul Beatty's The Sellout and lots of other award-winning men, it's time to circle back to the women who were up for the same prizes. We've compiled a list of 19 reads, all by women, that were on the shortlist for everything from the Edgar Awards to the National Book Awards. There is definitely something for every taste, including fantasy, thriller and literary fiction; including the entire Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist. So, whatever you want to dive into this summer, whether under a beach umbrella or curled up on the couch, make it one (or, you know, 19) by the ladies.

1'The Dark Circle' by Linda Grant

Nominated For: Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction

The Second World War is over, a new decade is beginning but for an East End teenage brother and sister living on the edge of the law, life has been suspended. Sent away to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kent to learn the way of the patient, they find themselves in the company of army and air force officers, a car salesman, a young university graduate, a mysterious German woman, a member of the aristocracy and an American merchant seaman. They discover that a cure is tantalizingly just out of reach and only by inciting wholesale rebellion can freedom be snatched.

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2'The Power' by Naomi Alderman

Nominated For: Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction

In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power. They can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes completely.

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3'The Sport Of Kings' by C.E. Morgan

Nominated For: Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction and The Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

Hellsmouth, a willful thoroughbred filly, has the legacy of a family riding on her. The Forges are one of the oldest and proudest families in Kentucky–and now, first-time horse breeders. Henry Forge is attempting to blaze a new path on the family's crop farm. His daughter, Henrietta has desires of her own. When Allmon Shaughnessy, an African American man fresh from prison, comes to work in the stables, the ugliness of the farm's history rears its head. Together, the three stubbornly try to create a new future, one that isn't determined by Kentucky's bloody past, while they mold Hellsmouth into a champion.

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4'Do Not Say We Have Nothing' by Madeleine Thien

Nominated For: Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction and The Man Booker Prize

Madeleine Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations — those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story.

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5'Stay With Me' by Ayobami Adebayo

Nominated For: Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction

Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything-arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 80s Nigeria, Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood.

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6'First Love' by Gwendoline Riley

Nominated For: Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction

A blistering account of a marriage in crisis and a portrait of a woman caught between withdrawal and self-assertion, depression and rage. Neve is beset by financial anxiety and isolation, but can’t quite manage to extricate herself from her volatile partner, Edwyn. Told with emotional remove and bracing clarity, First Love is an account of the relationship between two catastrophically ill-suited people walking a precarious line between relative calm and explosive confrontation.

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7'Hot Milk' by Deborah Levy

Nominated For: The Man Booker Prize

Sofia has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to Spain to see a famous consultant—their very last chance—in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Rose's illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia's role as detective—tracking her mother's symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain—deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.

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8'Eileen' by Otessa Moshfegh

Nominated For: The Man Booker Prize

Eileen Dunlop is an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker and a day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her deranged father’s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears to be a budding friendship. But her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.

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9'In The Darkroom' by Susan Faludi

Nominated For: The Pulitzer Prize in Biography or Autobiography

When Faludi learned that her 76-year-old father—long estranged and living in Hungary—had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who identified as “a complete woman now” connected to the silent, explosive, and violent father she had known?  When the author travels to Hungary to reunite with her father, she drops into a labyrinth of dark histories and dangerous politics in a country hell-bent on repressing its past and constructing a fanciful—and virulent—nationhood. Faludi’s struggle to come to grips with her father’s metamorphosis takes her across borders—historical, political, religious, sexual--to bring her face to face with the question of the age: Is identity something you “choose,” or is it the very thing you can’t escape?

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10'Jane Steele' by Lyndsay Faye

Nominated For: The Edgar Award for Best Novel

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked-but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors. A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a dilemma: can she possess him- body, soul and secrets-and what if he discovers her murderous past?

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11'What Remains of Me' by Alison Gaylin

Nominated For: The Edgar Award for Best Novel

On June 28, 1980 Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home...and instantly becomes a media sensation. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives, information she’s refused to share. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself. Thirty years later the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden. Once again, Kelly is suspected of the murder. But this time, she’s got allies who believe she’s innocent—of both killings—and want to help her clear her name. But is she?

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12'Girl in the Blue Coat' by Monica Hesse

Nominated For: The Edgar Award for Young Adult

Hanneke spends her days delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, nights hiding her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the front lines when the German army invaded. On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person: a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, whovanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such a dangerous task but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.

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13'The Girl I Used to Be' by April Henry

Nominated For: The Edgar Award for Young Adult

When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward 14 years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

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14'My Sister Rosa' by Justine Larbalestier

Nominated For: The Edgar Award for Young Adult

Che's little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che's convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn't hurt anyone yet, but he's certain it's just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world - and the world from Rosa?

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15'Dancing with the Tiger' by Lili Wright

Nominated For: The Edgar Award for Best First Novel

When Anna Ramsey learns that a looter has dug up what might be the funerary mask of Montezuma, she books the next flight to Oaxaca. Determined to redeem her father, a discredited art collector, and to one-up her unfaithful fiancé, a museum curator, Anna hurls herself headlong into Mexico’s underground art world. But others are chasing the treasure as well: the shape-shifting drug lord no one can really describe; the enigmatic American expat, who keeps his art collection locked in a chapel; the former museum director who traffics stolen works, and his housekeeper. Anna soon realizes that everyone is masked—some literally, others metaphorically.

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16'The Lost Girls' by Heather Young

Nominated For: The Edgar Award for Best First Novel

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to her grandniece, Justine.  For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But soon Justine’s oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrow, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

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17'Another Brooklyn' by Jacqueline Woodson

Nominated For: National Book Award in Fiction

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

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18'News of the World' by Paulette Giles

Nominated For: National Book Award in Fiction

Captain Kidd travels through Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Their 400-mile journey proves difficult and at times dangerous. Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin toforming a bond. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

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19'Uprooted' by Naomi Novik

Nominated For: Hugo Award for Best Novel

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka knows that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

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