The Costa Book Awards Category Winners 2017

It only seems the other day that I was getting asked to judge the Costa Book Awards (a moment that left me in a 50/50 mixture of shock and delight) and now my job is done as we announce the category  winners, I was judging the debut category if you missed it. So here they all are…


Costa Children’s Book of the Year: The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
Costa Poetry Collection of the Year: Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore
Costa Biography of the Year: In The Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott
Costa Novel of the Year: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Costa First Novel of the Year: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

So there you have it. These five books now go head to head for the Costa Book of the Year 2017 and I have decided I am going to read them in time for the party (which I am taking my mother to, she is thrilled) and the announcement on Tuesday January 30th 2018. It also means I can finally share some reviews of the Costa shortlisted books I have read and some of the submissions that didn’t make the debut shortlist but I am desperate to talk to you about and send you off to read. All in due course.

So what do you make of the category winners? Which have you read and what did you think? Which really take your fancy and which do you think will win, I would love to know all of this, so do tell me in the comments below.



Filed under Costa Book Awards, Costa Book Awards 2017, Random Savidgeness

20 responses to “The Costa Book Awards Category Winners 2017

  1. Linda

    Yaaaay! So chuffed for Gail Honeyman and my absolute standout book of the year! I am delighted for her (and of course for my own impeccable good taste ).

  2. I really liked Eleanor Oliphant! It was such a beautiful story and it reminded me a lot of The Rosie Project. Both have this great balance of humor and sadness. 😊

    • Ooh that’s interesting. I had lots of issues with The Rosie Project, not so with Eleanor. I wonder what that was because I can see why one reminded you of the other. I’ll have a think about that.

      • Even though I think they were similar in their approach, I think Eleanor is a lot more hard hitting and serious while The Rosie Project really is more on the humor side of things. The Rosie Project reminded me a lot of more sophisticated chicklit while Eleanor felt like like literary fiction with added humor. Maybe that is why you didn’t have so many issues with it. 🙂

      • Oooh nice analysis. I think you’re spot on.

      • Thank you! That means a lot to me coming from you 😊

      • Linda

        Totally agree with you, Lisa. I also think the charm and pathos of the book come from the fact that Eleanor is telling the story herself. The understanding and the resulting warmth and compassion we feel for her develop gradually as we see the dissonance between what we learn about her life and the way “normal” people see life. This is, I think, why we are on her side despite her oddities, and why we are rooting for her to find a way through. I cried buckets and I was bereft when I was no longer in Eleanor’s company. The characters and their kindliness lived on in my head for a long time afterwards. I felt this was a book with heart, with genuine compassion and humanity, a book that made you laugh through your tears.
        And, controversial now, it is a book which illustrates perfectly for me why there has been a flurry of articles about the decline of “literary” fiction. Contrast this book’s warmth with much of the overhyped literary fiction churned out on the formulaic creative writing/workshop conveyer belt. How many of those will be remembered a few years, let alone decades down the line? Yet, I venture to suggest that Eleanor will outlast many of them.
        Rant over. Sorry Simon.

      • Well, I have nothing more to add to your beautiful depiction of Eleanor 🙂

        As to the decline of literary fiction…I am not too sure about that. As I see it, literary fiction has pretty much been on the same level for years (though I may not be the best example considering I am only 21 and started reading literary fiction when I was about 15). I think we tend to romantizice our reading experiences and mostly remember the really good books. It seems to me that there has always been a certain formula for literary fiction that a lot of books follow and then there are some like Eleanor that stand out. But I don’t believe that there really is a decline, it’s really just us focusing on all the really good stories we have read and are reading instead of remembering the ones we didn’t really like because they had formulaic writing and predictable plots.

        Our expectations for books change the more we read and what may have seemed new and revolutionary to us, may seem formulaic and predictable for someone who has read a book similar to this one already. So it’s not really a decline as much as a more critical awareness we as readers develop? I hope I am making sense here. 😅

      • Linda

        I brought up the subject because there have been quite a few articles in the press recently about whether literary fiction should be subsidised because sales of “literary” fiction have dropped. The argument has raged around the way fiction is written and its content . No one seems to agree but there is plenty argument! One argument is that much of modern fiction is written without “plot”. That is how many creative writing courses teach it, apparently. Personally, I like a good story (as opposed to the episodic, vignette variants) and I am not over fond of flowery, involved show-offy prose that can be more style than substance which is why a tranche of new fiction is not for me. These are all huge generalisations of course 😏, there are loads of exceptions, and I am just mouthing off!

      • Ahh okay…decline as in sales! 😅 Here in Germany we have the discussion of literary fiction getting worse, but not about sales going down. Sorry about confusing those two. 😂

        I think a huge part of the decline in sales might be the rise of Yound Adult fiction. A lot of readers under 25 seem to be very intimidated to start literary fiction and prefer to read YA. It is also very much visible on the internet across blogging communities as well as booktube. Literary fiction can sometimes still be very difficult to find whereas YA because of huge marketing strategies seems to be more easily accessible (of course I can only talk about the international/ internet side of things because I live in Germany).

        Personally, the argument that sales are going down because of the way the stories are written seems quite…far fetched, I guess? I do see how a lot of authors nowadays gravitate towards overly metaphorical language (which sometimes seems very pretentious to me to be honest) but there are still plenty of books that have a plot and do not follow that kind of style…

        I will have to do some research on that debate…seems pretty interesting…☺

      • Linda

        There’s are several articles on the Guardian online if you can get it from Deutschland?

      • Yeah definitely. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Alexia

    Reservoir 13 is outstanding – a wonderful book. It was my personal Book of the year.
    I haven’t read the others, but Eleanor Oliphant is on my list…

  4. A Kiwi in Oxford

    I agree about Reservoir 13. I was wrong footed to begin with as I expected a different kind of novel but very quickly was caught up in the lives of the people in the story. Certainly one of the best books I read last year and, for me, a worthy winner. I also loved Eleanor Oliphant. So clever to get Eleanor’s voice as a believable one and, with a few exceptions, I really loved the kindness with which so many of the other characters treated her. I really wanted to stay with her longer just to make sure she would be okay.

  5. ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ was one of the last books I read in 2017 and I was sad to see it end. Such a wonderful, quirky narrator. So I’m glad to see it win its category for the Costa.

  6. Two of these books intrigue me, Eleanor Oliphant and Reservoir 13, thanks for bringing them to my attention. I also read biographies and memoirs so will check out that one too, to see who is the subject.

  7. How fun! And how lovely to take your mum with you 🙂

    I started 2018 off with Eleanor Oliphant is Complete Fine and it was just the best possible choice. So well written, such a good story, I don’t even have the words to say how much I enjoyed it.

    Reservoir 13 I want to read a lot as well, but I think I’ll need to wait until it is out in paperback.

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