To Be a Machine wins the Wellcome Book Prize 2018

Large 2018 winner

Irish author Mark O’Connell has won the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize for his extraordinary debut To Be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers and the futurists solving the modest problem of death. It is the first full-length exploration of transhumanism, a movement that seeks to cheat mortality and use technology for human evolution.

Mark O’Connell was selected from a shortlist of six to win the prestigious prize, which celebrates exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction that illuminate the many ways that health and medicine touch our lives.

The other titles shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize were:

  • Stay With Me (Canongate Books) by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria) Fiction
  • Mayhem: A memoir (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books) by Sigrid Rausing (UK/Sweden) Non-fiction

Edmund de Waal, Chair of Judges, commented on behalf of the judging panel:

“To Be a Machine is a passionate, entertaining and cogent examination of those who would choose to live forever. Mark O’Connell brilliantly examines issues of technology and singularity. In doing so he brings into focus timely issues about mortality, what it might mean to be a machine and what it truly means to be human. This is a book that will start conversations and deepen debates. It is a wonderful winner of the Wellcome Book Prize.”

Library winners

Small witham librarians

Witham Library in Essex fought off tough competition this year to win the Incurable Curious library display competition. Two of their fantastic librarians (Maria and Erica, pictured) attended the event at Wellcome Collection last night as their prize.

Maria, from Witham, shared her experience creating the display:

“I am extremely lucky to get promotional resources that help us produce attractive and eye-catching displays. This helps us to introduce our customers to awards such as the Wellcome Book Prize, and books they may not have seen before.

Incurably Curious was my starting point, and the books seemed to have medical themes, so the doctors room concept came about. The display had patient folders with the book covers on, all being treated by ‘Dr Read’.

The display is in an area of the library to attract visitors and encourage them to try the books on offer. We included a range of other books with similar subjects, to encourage customers to try something new!

These materials and the promotion around them really help us to showcase a range of books and provide a great experience for our customers."

Get involved

Share your thoughts about the winner on Twitter and Instagram using #WBP2018. Click on any title above to leave a review.

Find out more about the books on the Wellcome Book Prize website.

Take a look at all of the brilliant library displays on our Facebook page.


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