Week 50/20 – week ending 11 December


No bad sex in 2020

The Literary Review has cancelled the 2020 Bad Sex in Fiction Award. “The judges felt that the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well,” the journal explained. Invitations to the party at which the prize is announced are, in non-Covid years, among the most sought-after in the literary calendar.

A spokesperson for the judges added: “With lockdown regulations giving rise to all manner of novel sexual practices, the judges anticipate a rash of entries next year. Authors are reminded that cybersex and other forms of home entertainment fall within the purview of this award. Scenes set in fields, parks or back yards, or indoors with the windows open and fewer than six people present will not be exempt from scrutiny either.”

The 2019 prize was shared between Didier Decoin for The Office of Gardens and Ponds (John Murray) and John Harvey for Pax (Holland House Books). They join a distinguished list of winners, not all of whom have enjoyed the accolade: they include Morrissey, Ben Okri, Giles Coren, Rachel Johnson, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, AA Gill, Wendy Perriam, Sebastian Faulks, and Melvyn Bragg.

E-book lending surges during pandemic

With the ongoing transition to digital accelerated by the pandemic, more digital books have been accessed through OverDrive’s Libby app than ever before. Through the first 11 months of 2020, millions of ebooks and audiobooks have been borrowed from public libraries in the UK — a 66% increase from 2019.

Ebook issues experienced the highest growth, 74% higher than this time last year. Audiobook issues also increased in 2020, 47% growth year-over-year. The fastest growing genres are children’s fiction (including picture books) and nonfiction, young adult fiction and nonfiction as well as comics and graphic novels.

OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide, has also released details of 2020’s most popular ebooks and audiobooks downloaded from UK library authorities.

Top 10 Ebooks from UK Public Libraries in 2020

Blue Moon by Lee Child (pictured)
  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Normal People by Sally Rooney
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

Top 10 Audiobooks from UK Public Libraries in 2020

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Mythos by Stephen Fry
The World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

OverDrive has been serving UK libraries since 2005 and currently provides ebook and audiobook access to more than 1,000 libraries up and down the country.

As part of its RBdigital acquisition earlier this year, OverDrive has expanded its audiobook catalogue with WF Howes titles, with all WF Howes audiobooks are now available through the Libby reading apps. In addition, the full range of RBdigital magazines will be added early in the new year.

“Adding the full WF Howes catalogue is very important,” said Nick Forster, OverDrive Regional Manager, EMEA Global Libraries and Education. “The acquisition of RBdigital also means readers from almost every library service in the UK and Ireland will soon be able to enjoy access to a massive range of magazines through the award-winning Libby app. This is another big step forward in convenience for readers at a time when demand for digital services from libraries has never been higher.”

A global company with reach in more than 75 countries, OverDrive has a dedicated team in the UK and sponsored Libraries Week in October.

Books of the Year revealed by Foyles

The winners are chosen from bookseller recommendations and bestsellers before final selection by the senior team. Heather Baker, campaigns manager at Foyles, said: “Before we put 2020 behind us, we celebrate three essential  books from a great year for iterature.  Each of our winners is in some way a struggle with darkness — with loss, prejudice, erasure, violence — yet each reworks that into something exquisite and, in that way, at least in part, redemptive.”

Foyles Fiction Book of the Year 2020: Real Life by Brandon Taylor (Daunt Books Publishing)
Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2020: A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa(Tramp Press)
Foyle’s Children’s Book of the Year 2020: The Wolf’s Secret by Myriam Dahman (author),  Nicolas Digard (author) and Júlia Sardà (illustrator) – published by Orchard Books, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Group