The Wellcome Book Prize 2018

One of my favourite prizes of the year, the Wellcome Book Prize longlist for 2018 has just been announced. The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates ” the many ways in which literature can illuminate the breadth and depth of our relationship with health, medicine and illness.”

The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, March 20th, and the winner will be revealed on Monday, April 30th.

I’m delighted to be part of Rebecca’s Shadow Panel, which will get going once the shortlist is announced. I’m in good company too with Clare, Paul, and Laura. I’ll also be taking part in the Prize’s Blog tour, as I did last year when I championed Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend The Living from the shortlist.

The wonderful thing about this prize is that its criteria are so simple – whether memoir, popular science, more academically minded, or novels – all books about Health, Illness and Medicine can be entered and this always leads to an eclectic mix in the longlist.

I’m drawn to several of the medical titles

The Vaccine Race and The Butchering Art for starters, with the 800 pages psychology volume Behave following close behind.  I must be the only bookish person I know yet to read Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir which I shall remedy forthwith. (I started but couldn’t get into Bernard MacLaverty’s novel though, beautifully written as it may be).

Several other books with a health, illness and medicine or science history theme have come my way lately too:

  • Pavlov’s Dog by Adam Hart-Davis – subtitled and 49 other experiments that revolutionised psychology
  • Under the Knife by Arnold van de Laar – A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations
  • A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War by Patricia Fara
  • All That Remains: A Life in Death by Professor Sue Black

So it’s going to be science and medicine all the way this spring – although I will make space for reading other books to prevent being ‘scienced out’!

12 thoughts on “The Wellcome Book Prize 2018

  1. Ooh, Under the Knife and All that Remains look great! I’ve already come across loads of books that would be eligible for the 2019 prize. This year I think I’ll keep a running list so I can make more informed predictions for next year.

    Shame you couldn’t get on with the Maclaverty — would you be up for trying again if it makes the shortlist?

  2. I loved I Am, I Am, I Am – one of my books of 2017 (despite stiff competition from the other O’Farrell book I read that year, This Must Be The Place!). Similarly, my amateur interest in epidemiology makes The Vaccine Race look fascinating. I’m sorry to hear you couldn’t get into the MacLaverty – I’ve not read this yet but was looking forward to it.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’m hoping that it was wrong time with his slowburn style, rather than wrong book for me with the MacLaverty – I did read Grace Notes by him years ago and enjoyed that. My ex worked for a flu vaccine company, that and the whole awful MMR thing got me interested in vaccines – I found myself at toddler group having to persuade mums that it was safe, all the time.

  3. Thanks for the mention – I’ve read two so far (O’Farrell and Adebayo) and I’m hoping to read one or two more before the shortlist announcement. I really want to read The Butchering Art which sounds fascinating and I’ve just got a copy of With the End In Mind which I requested from NetGalley.

  4. Oh I LOVE this prize! Did I know this existed and I just forgot about it?? I love that such a thing exists, and allllll of these books look super interesting. I’ve been meaning to read Behave for ages, but it stays checked out at my physical library and I can’t get it as a library ebook because it’s massively long and I don’t trust myself to read it in the allotted time. :p

  5. I have to admit this prize has passed me by, and medical/science is not one of my enthusiasm, but I feel I should read something from the list, if only because the Wellcome Collection is one of my favourite places – they have the most amazing display of medical curiosities (and a very nice cafe, as well as a bookshop).

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