The shortlist for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize was announced today, Tuesday 20 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.
These books offer such a breadth of topic and style that they are perfect for reading groups – why not visit your local library and see which titles they have in stock? The chosen books are there to encourage you to challenge, question, and engage with the wider world. Click through to any title to leave a review or to add the book to your group’s reading list.
The 2018 shortlist:
- Stay With Me (Canongate Books) by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria) Fiction
This Nigerian debut is the heart-breaking tale of what wanting a child can do to a person, a marriage and a family; a powerful and vivid story of what it means to love not wisely but too well.
- The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine (Allen Lane, Penguin Press) by Lindsey Fitzharris (USA) Non-fiction
The spellbinding story of a visionary British surgeon who changed medicine for ever. In The Butchering Art, historian Lindsey Fitzharris recreates a critical turning-point in the history of medicine, when Joseph Lister transformed surgery from a brutal, harrowing practice to the safe, vaunted profession we know today.
- With the End in Mind: Dying, death and wisdom in an age of denial (William Collins, HarperCollins UK) by Kathryn Mannix (UK) Non-fiction
In this unprecedented book, palliative medicine pioneer Dr Kathryn Mannix explores the biggest taboo in our society and the only certainty we all share: death. A tender and insightful book that will revolutionise the way we discuss and approach the end-of-life process.
- To Be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers, and the futurists solving the modest problem of death (Granta Books) by Mark O’Connell (Ireland) Non-fiction
An engaging and often astounding exploration of transhumanism, the philosophical and technological movement that is working on an update of the human machine.
- Mayhem: A memoir (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books) by Sigrid Rausing (UK/Sweden) Non-fiction
In the summer of 2012 a woman named Eva was found dead from a drug overdose in a London townhouse. Now, writing with singular clarity and restraint, writer and publisher Sigrid Rausing tries to make sense of what happened. A searing memoir about the impact of addiction on a family.
- The Vaccine Race: How scientists used human cells to combat killer viruses (Doubleday, Transworld) by Meredith Wadman (USA/Canada) Non-fiction
The epic and controversial story of the major scientific breakthrough that led to the creation of some of the world’s most important vaccines. Meredith Wadman’s account of this great leap forward in medicine is a fascinating and revelatory read.
Chaired by artist and writer Edmund de Waal, this year’s judging panel have selected a rich and varied shortlist – one novel, one memoir and four non-fiction books – connected by our complex relationship with mortality. The titles explore bereavement, loss and the fragility of life, consider medical innovations developed to escape death, and ask how we approach our final moments with meaning.
The winner of the 2018 prize will be revealed at an evening ceremony on Monday 30 April at Wellcome Collection.
Find out more about the books on the Wellcome Book Prize website.
Take a look at the Wellcome Book Prize winner from 2017.
Did your library order display materials? Don’t forget to share your library display photos with us and on social media using #WBP2018.