Skip to content

The Booker Prize 2020 – Our shortlist predictions

Ahhh 2020 …. WordPress changed their blogging format and we’re all sorta struggling and here we are at the end of a very 2020 Longlist.

Our group rankings are as follows:

  1. Apeirogon 18
  2. Love and Other Thought Experiments 17.5
  3. How Much of These Hills is Gold 16.1
  4. The Mirror and the Light 15.6*
  5. The Shadow King15.5
  6. Shuggie Bain 15.3
  7. Real Life 13.9
  8. This Mournable Body 12.3
  9. Burnt Sugar11.8
  10. Such a Fun Age 11.1
  11. Redhead at the Side of the Road 11
  12. Who They Was 10.6*
  13. The New Wilderness 10.4

(* not all reviewers finished the book)

Here are our predictions for the short list:


This year I managed to read 11 of the 13 longlist books so my selections are going to be from what I have read. In no particular order my predictions are:

  1. Who They Was
  2. Apeirogon
  3. The Shadow King
  4. Such a Fun Age
  5. Love and Other Thought Experiments
  6. How Much of These Hills is Gold 


I read (or attempted) all but one of the books this year, which I think is a record for me.  But for a couple of gems (my 1 and 2 below) I found the list pretty weak overall.  Conversely, Hamnet, Red Pill, The Yield and Swimming in the Dark all could have, and IMHO, should have, made the list and it would have been stronger. 

  1. Apeirogon – an important, beautifully done book, on a topic that needed it
  2. Love and Other Thought Experiments – this is the kind of book Booker was made for
  3. The Shadow King – I couldn’t finish, but it’s an interesting and underdone subject and I think this is a book the judges would push for
  4. Real Life – some important ideas
  5. The Mirror and the Light – I attempted Wolf Hall 3 times and never got it to take off … but Mantel won for the previous two books, no way this isn’t shortlisted
  6. How Much of These Hills is Gold – I’m scared Such a Fun Age will actually be nominated, but this is (way) more deserving


What a great longlist it has been this year! I’ve managed to read the lot, with two that I have chosen not to continue; Burnt Sugar, and This Mournable Body. Should either of them make it to the shortlist I will press on and finish. There have been several exceptional reads and I have found it quite easy to narrow down my choices to the five that I hope will make it to the final round, and I have added one that I think will make it despite if being a difficult read for me. They are as follows, in no particular order:

  1. Shuggie Bain
  2. Apeirogon
  3. The Mirror and the Light
  4. Love and Other Thought Experiments
  5. Real Life
  6. The Shadow King


My attempts to read anything, never mind 13 books on a deadline, have been a big ol’ fail.  So 2020.  But never one to let that stop me from speculating, I’m going with:

  1. Love and Other Thought Experiments – I can tell already this will be my favorite!
  2. Shuggie Bain – just fair for me, but everyone else is totally loving it
  3. Apeirogon – fave of the Reader’s Room
  4. The Mirror and the Light – If the judges saw fit to put the 3rd book in a series on the longlist, I’d be floored if it didn’t make the shortlist.
  5. Shadow King 
  6. Burnt Sugar


1. Apeirogon- topical, yet timeless
2. Love and Other Thought Experiments- too creative not to be shortlisted
3. Shuggie Bain- tugging the heartstrings
4. The Shadow King- woman power in history
5.  The New Wilderness- just because I disliked it so much, of course it will be.
6. How Much of These Hills is Gold- the one I liked the best of all the rest.

I wouldn’t be surprised or upset with any of the rest being shortlisted. It feels like a political/diverse list this year, and I think the judges did a pretty good job of choosing books to represent 2020.


I’ve only been able to read 6 of the books so far this year, perhaps because I’ve spent so much time on The Mirror on the Light. And, most of the books I’ve read, I’m thinking, no….

So here is my short list:

  1. Apeirogon — everyone really liked it, the topic is so important, and the writing structure is interesting. It will be next on my reading list.
  2. Love and Other Thought Experiments — I did read this one, and could even see reading parts of it again. It was unpredictable, and I liked thinking about how each chapter related to the thought experiment at the beginning of the chapter. So, in short, an unusual book.
  3. Real Life — I found this agonizing, but the point of view of the narrator is so important

The remaining 3 choices I did not read. I read others’ descriptions, and then chose:

4. The New Wilderness

5. Shuggie Bain

6. The Shadow King

Did you read any of the books? Any shortlist predictions from you? Have we inspired you to read anything?

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. All 6 of us predicted Apeirogon, The Shadow King and Love and Other Thought experiments. Based on past experience I’d guess that at least two of those won’t be shortlisted, which would really make me sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 14, 2020
    • pbtanita #

      Love and Other Thought Experiments better be on there . . .feels Booker worthy to me!


      September 15, 2020
    • this was my most accurate prediction, sadly. I only got two from the list. I suppose I should take consolation that Such a Fun Age wasn’t there. But The Walking Dead Without Zombies? Arugh!


      September 15, 2020
  2. Nicole Rohr #

    While I want to read several of these books, I have yet to read a single one! Though I am reading Hamnet, which I think should unofficially count.

    But, I LOVE your shadow review panel and always follow your posts, reviews, and rankings! I have the following books on my TBR because of you fine people and I truly hope to get to at least two or three of them by the year’s end:

    Shuggie Bain
    Love and Other Thought Experiments
    The Mirror and the Light (but I need to read the first two books first!)

    The other two I am considering:
    How Much of These Hills is Gold—the description does not really speak to me but I cannot ignore the rating from this group.
    The New Wilderness—on the flip side, I know y’all hated it but the premise sounds so great!

    I am looking forward to seeing the shortlist and may even get to one or two (aiming for Apeirogon and Love and Other Thought Experiments if they are shortlisted) before the winner is announced on November 17!

    Liked by 3 people

    September 14, 2020
    • Book Worm #

      I am currently reading Wolf Hall just in case Mirror and Light makes the Shortlist LOL
      Glad you enjoy our shadow panel we (mainly) love reading for it

      Liked by 1 person

      September 14, 2020
      • I complain a lot, but I love it too!

        Liked by 1 person

        September 14, 2020
      • Book Worm #

        Now if only WordPress would sort itself out I would be a lot happier so much harder to create a post now taken me nearly an hour for Read Around the World and most of that was looking for how to add an image ROFL I have now take to typing the post in word first and then copying and pasting so much easier than blocks grrrr

        Liked by 1 person

        September 14, 2020
      • Nicole Rohr #

        I bought Wolf Hall in paperback just before Mirror came out. But, it is still sitting on my shelf. Untouched. But I at least have it on hand!!

        Liked by 1 person

        September 14, 2020
      • pbtanita #

        I read Wolf Hall and wasn’t a fan, but I feel like I need to re-read it and then Bringing Up the Bodies before going for the 3rd. I restarted WH earlier in the year, and I actually was enjoying it. Until the pandemic. And then I couldn’t focus.

        So maybe 3rd time will be the charm? Not sure I have it in me right now.


        September 15, 2020
    • pbtanita #

      Guess I don’t have to read Wolf Hall now . . .lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 15, 2020
  3. I would love to read all books in the long list! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am currently reading my first book from this list, McCann’s Apeirogon. Albeit I struggled with the structure (a combination of Cloud Atlas and Ducks, Newburyport?) at first, I am starting to understand and appreciate the backstory. The rumination at the middle part plucked the proverbial heartstrings. I enjoyed this discussion and I am hoping to read all these books. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 14, 2020
  4. I’ve only read The Mirror and the Light, worthy of another win.
    by the way, if you create your posts from the wp-admin page (for me, it’s yes, with wordpress inserted there, even though I have a domain name), nothing has changed.
    I have to do it, because my homepage is absolutely impossible to do otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 14, 2020
  5. Well, that shortlist is f-ing disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 15, 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: