The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist, recommended by Neil MacGregor

The Booker Prize is awarded each year to the best original novel written in the English language. We asked the art historian Neil MacGregor, chair of this year’s judging panel, to talk us through the six novels that made the 2022 shortlist—and why fiction can be a most effective means of engaging us emotionally in social and political crisis elsewhere.

The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist, recommended by Frank Wynne

The International Booker Prize celebrates the best fiction in translation published over the previous year. Frank Wynne, acclaimed translator and chair of the 2022 judging panel, tells Five Books about the six novels that made the shortlist, and reminds readers that world literature need not be tough, consumed only in the interests of self-improvement—but is often joyful, surprising and full of feeling.

The Best Memoirs: The 2022 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist, recommended by Marion Winik

Autobiography is evolving; increasingly we find the field dominated by ‘genre-fluid’ books that plait memoir together with strands of cultural criticism, history, journalism or even poetry. Here, Marion Winik, the memoirist and critic, talks us through the five books that have been shortlisted in the National Book Critic’s Circle autobiography category—and describes the face of memoir in 2022.

The Best Biographies: the 2021 NBCC Shortlist, recommended by Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor, the author, critic and chair of the National Book Critics’ Circle biography committee, discusses their 2021 shortlist for the title of the best biography—including a revelatory new book about the life of Malcolm X, a group biography of artists in the 1960s, and a book built from a cache of letters written in Japan’s shogun era.

The Best Conservation Books of 2020, selected by Charlotte Smith

Conservation and the battle against climate change are two of the most pressing issues of our age. But books on the subject have to be readable and enjoyable too, says Charlotte Smith – BBC presenter and judge for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for books on global conservation. Here she highlights the six shortlisted titles that will enchant and inspire you.

The Best of Biography: the 2020 NBCC Shortlist, recommended by Elizabeth Taylor

How do you find the perfect subject for a biography? “Pick a real bitch, or real bastard, and make sure they’re dead,” a famous biographer once told Elizabeth Taylor. The author, critic and chair of the National Book Critics’ Circle biography committee talks us through the books that made their 2020 shortlist.

The Best of Memoir: the 2020 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist, recommended by Mark Athitakis

From a brave account by the Stanford rape case survivor Chanel Miller to New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow’s gripping tale of investigating the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it’s been a golden year for autobiography. Veteran critic Mark Athitakis talks us through the memoirs that made this year’s National Book Critics Circle autobiography shortlist.

The Best Nonfiction Books of 2019, recommended by Stig Abell

Every year, the Baillie Gifford Prize judges seek to identify the very best nonfiction books published in the last year. Here, the chair of this year’s judging panel Stig Abell talks us through the 2019 shortlist: a thrilling line-up of books that are as notable for their literary prowess as for their weight and significance.

Best Books of 2019 on Global Cultural Understanding, recommended by Ash Amin

Every year the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize is awarded to a nonfiction book that has contributed to ‘global cultural understanding.’ Cambridge professor Ash Amin, chair of this year’s panel of judges, talks us through the fabulous books that made the 2019 shortlist and explains why they’re so important.

The Best Fiction of 2019, recommended by Peter Florence

Each year, a panel of esteemed judges reads over 100 novels to determine which titles will vie for the award of the Booker Prize for Fiction. Peter Florence, chair of the 2019 judges and founder of the famous Hay Festival, tells us why the books on this year’s shortlist are gripping, enthralling must-reads.

The Best Nonfiction Books of 2018, recommended by Fiammetta Rocco

It’s a difficult task: to identify the very best nonfiction books of the year. But the Baillie Gifford Prize aims to do just that. The chair of the prize’s 2018 judging panel Fiammetta Rocco talks to us about the six fascinating titles that made the shortlist.

The Best Fiction of 2018, recommended by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Looking for the best novels of the year? Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy at New York University and chair of the 2018 Man Booker Prize for fiction, gives an in-depth breakdown of the six books that made this year’s shortlist, and reflects on why the novel as a form is stronger than ever.

The best books on Capitalism and Human Nature, recommended by Robert J Shiller

“You have to understand people first before you can understand how to devise an economic system for them” argues Robert J Shiller, the Yale economics professor and Nobel laureate. He chooses five books that explore who we fundamentally are, as human beings, and how that will determine the shape of a successful capitalism.