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Vote for your favourite book in city poll

Published: 11 June 2024

Vote for your favourite book in city poll Vote for your favourite book

Exeter is another step closer to finding the city’s favourite book.

A shortlist of six of the city’s most popular novels has been drawn up and people are now being asked to vote for their favourite.

The City Reads campaign has been launched to celebrate Exeter’s fifth year as a UNESCO City of Literature.

The public poll will close on Friday 2 August and the winning book will be announced at a special event in September.

City Reads Shortlist:

  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers | Hodder & Stoughton
  • Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie | HarperCollins Publishers
  • Babel - R. F. Kuang | HarperVoyager, HarperCollins Publishers
  • Open Water - Caleb Azumah Nelson | Viking, Penguin Books Ltd
  • Heartstopper - Alice Oseman | Hodder, Hachette Children's Group
  • The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien | HarperCollins Publishers

Organisations such as the City Council, Exeter City Football Club Museum, Browne Jacobson law firm, Haines Watts accountants, and CoLab joined in the campaign with Exeter City of Literature to form the shortlist. Businesses across Exeter decided on their nominations by asking their employees, volunteers, and visitors to share their favourite books.

Almost 200 books were submitted, which were then whittled down to the six shortlisted books that were unveiled at The Book Market on Sunday 9 June.

An exciting and eclectic selection of books makes up the shortlist, including celebrated classics with local literary links, like Torbay’s Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The latter has a special connection to Exeter, with the inspirations for Middle Earth stemming from The Exeter Book, a 10th-century anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry and riddles. As the largest known collection of Old English literature still in existence, UNESCO recognised the book as one of the ‘world’s principal cultural artefacts’ in 2016.

Fans of genre fiction are represented on the shortlist, with the pioneer of Hopepunk - a subgenre of speculative fiction all about radical kindness - Becky Chambers’ beloved sci-fi adventure The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Readers looking to rally behind a modern fantasy will be pleased to see the historical fantasy epic Babel from R. F. Kuang, also part of the shortlist. Contemporary fiction finds its place on the shortlist with Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water. The hugely successful graphic novel turned smash-hit Netflix series Heartstopper by Alice Oseman rounds out the final six books.

The public vote was launched at Exeter City of Literature’s fourth annual Book Market with a special voting booth. During the public voting period, voting boxes throughout the city and online voting will be available. Exeter City of Literature and business sponsors will run competitions and giveaways and provide free books to low-literacy neighbourhoods throughout the city. The public vote will close on Friday, 2nd August, and City Reads will culminate in a special event in September 2024 to announce Exeter’s favourite book.

Anna Cohn Orchard, Executive Director of Exeter City of Literature, said: “From the Exeter Book to Exeter’s favourite book, this city has always treasured reading. We want to celebrate that with a year of reading for pleasure, book giveaways, and light-hearted debate over what our favourite books are. We want City Reads to unite the city behind the joy of reading, no matter the book!”

James Urquhart, Interim Director, Literature of Arts Council England said: “We’re delighted to support Exeter UNESCO City of Literature in its quest to discover Exeter’s favourite book. Reading for pleasure is hugely valued by the Arts Council for all the joy, excitement, and empathy that great stories deliver, as well as the boost that reading can give to mental well-being. It’s wonderful to see this vibrant programme connecting people with books across the year and celebrating reading throughout the city and beyond.”

Cast your vote on the Exeter City of Literature website:

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