Barnes & Noble booksellers reveal ‘magnificent and deeply original’ book of the year

Begun in 2019, Barnes & Noble’s books of the year are nominated by booksellers across the nation and then narrowed to eight titles by a selection committee.

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Paul McCartney’s book “The Lyrics” is Barnes & Noble’s Book of the Year for 2021

Paul McCartney’s book “The Lyrics” is Barnes & Noble’s Book of the Year for 2021.

W.W. Norton and Company

The booksellers have spoken. Actually, they may have sung. Singer and songwriter Paul McCartney’s book “The Lyrics” is Barnes & Noble’s Book of the Year for 2021.

McCartney returned the love. “I’m beyond honoured to receive this recognition. My team and I are extremely proud of ‘The Lyrics’ and it means so much to us that you like it as much as we do,” said McCartney in a statement to the bookseller. “Thank you to all the amazing team at Barnes & Noble in helping to launch the book.”

Begun in 2019, Barnes & Noble’s books of the year are nominated by booksellers across the nation and then narrowed to eight titles by a selection committee. The booksellers then vote on the eight titles for their favorite of the year. 

“‘The Lyrics’ is an extraordinary book. It is stunningly beautiful and a masterpiece of book design,” said Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt. “Paul McCartney has fashioned, through the explorations of his songs with the poet Paul Muldoon, a fascinating insight into his life and creative genius. No wonder the booksellers of Barnes & Noble have hailed this magnificent and deeply original book.”

The two-volume boxed set is drawn from 50 hours of conversation recorded over five years with Muldoon, who shapes the transcripts into a loose narrative of 154 of the artist’s songs. 

According to one bookseller, Michele L. from New York, “‘The Lyrics’ is like Paul McCartney took all the scraps of paper where he wrote down little ideas and then connected the dots for each of us to see how something so simple as a scrap of paper can become the greatest music of any generation. It is something that I will be pouring over for years to come. It’s a gift to me but it would be a great gift to any Beatles fan.”

Here’s what Barnes & Noble booksellers have to say about the Book of year finalists:

“The 1619 Project,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine.

“The 1619 Project,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine.


The 1619 Project,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine

“This extraordinary book is a great way to speak to all children about our fraught US History while finding a way to celebrate Black heritage. It is beautiful, poetic, and something to be read by everyone.” –Allyson G., New York, N.Y.

Cloud Cuckoo Land,” by Anthony Doerr

“A beautifully written, gorgeous epic that will easily be one of my favorites of the year. An ancient manuscript, the story of a man longing to reach the imaginary paradise of the title, links the many threads of the novel, from 15th century Constantinople to present day Ohio, to a spaceship escaping a ravaged earth in the future. It’s a hard to describe genre-bending novel that I’m sure will be a book club staple. Absolutely loved it! –Karen F., Coral Springs, Fla.

“Crying in H Mart,”by Michelle Zauner

“Crying in H Mart is a clear-eyed marvel of a book about grief and food and life in a complicated family. The prose is sublime, and this is a book to be savored” –Miwa M., Los Angeles, Calif.

“Pizza Czar: Recipes and Know-How from a World-Traveling Pizza Chef,” by Anthony Falco

“ What makes this pizza cookbook special is Falco’s understanding of a wide variety of ingredients which he learned about and experimented with from his many travels around the world. It’s a great-looking book and an amazing resource for any cook.” –Edward A., Portland, Ore.

“The Sentence,” by Louise Erdrich 

“A book that’s complex, charming, and current. With unforgettable characters woven into a story that centers round real events in 2020, this book feels like the perfect time capsule to illuminate an explosive year.” –Kat C., Brooklyn, N.Y.

“Together,”by Luke Adam Hawker

“Together takes a philosophical look at the events of 2020 and is a celebration of love, companionship, and kindness. With stunning artwork and sparse, beautiful prose, Together hits all the feels, and may be the book we all need to find hope, and to heal” –John S., Champaign, Ill.

“Under the Whispering Door,” by TJ Klune

“In a year of tumult without and within, this book fractures the brittle shell of callousness we wear and forces us to confront the vulnerability of hope. Accessible, funny, tear-inducing, and compelling, TJ Klune exceeds his previous work here by a significant stride.” –Scott H., Portage, Mich.

Contributing: Kim Willis


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