Wellcome Book Prize - 2017 shortlist announced

Large wellcome judges and sl

The shortlist for the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize was announced today, Tuesday 14 March. The prize celebrates exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction that engage with the topics of health and medicine and the many ways they touch our lives.

Comprising four non-fiction and two fiction titles the shortlist includes memoir, contemporary fiction and popular science. Authors from the UK and USA appear on the list as well as the first translated fiction to be included.

These books offer such a breadth of topic and style that they are perfect for reading groups. These are titles to challenge, question, engage and provide catharsis. Click through to any title to leave a review or to add the book to your group’s reading list.

2017 shortlist

How to Survive a Plague (Picador) by David France (USA) non-fiction

An expansive yet richly detailed insider’s account of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, of the radical campaign for accessible treatment that changed the way that medical science is practised worldwide.

When Breath Becomes Air (The Bodley Head, Penguin Random House) by Paul Kalanithi (USA) non-fiction

A life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

Mend the Living (MacLehose Press) by Maylis de Kerangal (France) trans. Jessica Moore fiction

The story of Simon Limbeau’s heart and the story of all the lives it will impact in the twenty-four hours between the accident that cuts short his life, and the moment when his heart will begin to beat again in the body of someone else.

The Tidal Zone (Granta Books) by Sarah Moss (UK) fiction

One day Adam receives a call when he finds out that his 15 year old daughter has collapsed at school and her heart stopped. Over the next few weeks, Adam’s safe family life is thrown into turmoil as they try to find out what’s wrong with Miriam.

The Gene (The Bodley Head, Penguin Random House) by Siddhartha Mukherjee (USA) non-fiction

An epic, moving history of a scientific idea coming to life, gives us a definitive account of the fundamental unit of heredity – and a vision of both humanity’s past and future.

I Contain Multitudes (The Bodley Head, Penguin Random House) by Ed Yong (UK) non-fiction

An exciting and genre-busting book on microbes, one of science’s hottest topics, by a debut writer with a huge following.

Get involved

Have you read any of the shortlisted titles? Click on any title above to leave a review, or to see what other people thought of the book.

Keep up with the latest news about the Wellcome Book Prize on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, using #WBP2017.

Which of the books have you read? Which would you recommend for reading groups, and who do you think should win? Comment below or tell us on Twitter.


Log in or Sign up to add a comment


Podcasts for Book Lovers

We’ve put together a list of our favourite reading related podcasts for you to enjoy. From celebrity storytelling to a tour of the fascinating connections between Shakespeare and the world around us, there should be something to suit all tastes.

Medium group 2

How to start a reading group

Interested in joining a reading group or starting one of your own? Download our quick guide to getting started.

Thumb reading between the wines with books  2

Arthur C Clarke Centenary

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is the most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain. The annual award is given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. The award was established with a generous grant given by Sir Arthur C. Clarke and the first prize was awarded in 1987 to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The winner receives a prize consisting of a number of pounds sterling equal to the current year (£2017 for year 2017).

Medium sci fi image