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If They Gave Oscars to Books, These Would Be My Winners

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Inspired by Literary Hub’s Books as Oscars nominees, my list of “Oscar nominees” aren’t all recently published, but they’re all still relevant today. Some admittedly are assigned books I had to read for class and ended up loving, some are already well-known thanks to social media and word of mouth, and some are from movies and TV shows that included books.

Best Novel (Best Picture)

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro: A complex story that slowly reveals itself through layers and is completely not what the back of the book makes it seem, it’s difficult to say anything about the book without giving it away.


This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald: A coming of age story set in post-WWI, with Fitzgerald’s signature descriptive elements and a Gatsby-esque set of characters.


Know My Name, Chanel Miller: A powerful memoir written by Miller, known as Emily Doe when she was sexually assaulted by a Stanford student in 2015.


Educated, Tara Westover: A memoir about the power of education and how Westover’s family and environment led her to where she is now.


If on a winter’s night a traveler, Italo Calvino: a frame story about reading that uses the second person “you.”

Best Main Character (Best Actor in a Leading Role)

Best Main Character (Best Actor in a Leading Role)

Brooklyn, Colm Toibin: Eilis, an Irish immigrant, makes a choice between a new life in Brooklyn, and her old familiar life in Ireland.


Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen: Elizabeth, one of the Bennet children, learns to overcome her prejudice with wit and humor.


The Book Thief, Markus Zusak: Liesel, the book thief the title refers to, steals books in Nazi Germany during WWII.


To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Scout learns more about the world during a trial her father is involved in where a black man is falsely accused of raping a white woman.


The Idiot, Elif Batuman: Selin is a Turkish immigrant at Harvard, who learns more about the US and the many differences between the two countries.

Best Supporting Character (Actor in a Supporting Role)

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn: Though minor in the plot itself, Nick’s wife Amy is a major character in some ways.


Atonement, Ian McEwan: Briony, the youngest Tallis child, is the one who sets everything in motion and ruins several lives in the process.


My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante: Lila, the brilliant friend, is in some ways the complete opposite of Lenù and adds adventure to both their childhood and early adolescence.


The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald: Though most of the novel centers around Gatsby, the action would not be possible without his neighbor, Nick.


The Help, Kathryn Stockett: Without Aibileen and Minny, Skeeter would not have been able to publish her stories of African Americans working in white households in the 1960s.

Best Work of Nonfiction (Documentary Feature)

Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow: The story of how Farrow broke the story of all the victims Harvey Weinstein assaulted over the years, and how major outlets, such as NBC, fought to keep the story hidden.


Why We Sleep, Dr. Matthew Walker: A scientific and highly educational, but also interesting account of the effects of sleep and what happens when we get only 7 hours of sleep a night.


The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan: A history of where our modern day food staples come from, from the farmers who grow the crops, to their final forms in the supermarket or fast food restaurant.


Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, Dana Thomas: An account of how luxury fashion was historically produced and why it demands its high price tag, and a comparison to how the meaning of luxury has changed since then.


Because Internet, Gretchen McCulloch: An in-depth analysis of why we write and text the way that we currently do, along with explanations about how the internet came about and developed historically.

Best Essay Collection (Documentary Short Subject)

Essays Against Everything, Mark Greif: Greif picks apart everything we’ve become accustomed to in a modern capitalist society, from exercising to shopping organic in a collection of thought-provoking essays.


The Mother of All Questions, Rebecca Solnit: A series of essays on different feminist topics, bringing in philosophical thinkers such as bell hooks and modern day events such as campus rape issues.


Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino: A collection of essays exploring topics from how ecstasy and Catholicism are similar, to how reality TV shapes us, to how heroines are portrayed in books depending on their literary age.


Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris: Using humor and wit, Sedaris writes about his time in France trying to learn the language and how he hopes to “talk pretty one day.”


So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo: Race can be a difficult subject to talk about and questions can be hard to even ask, but Oluo answers several relevant ones on topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, intersectionality, and microaggressions.

Best Setting (Cinematography)

Call Me By Your Name, André Aciman: A small town in Italy, during a hot summer.


My Paris Dream, Kate Betts: Paris as Betts experiences it when she spontaneously moves there after graduation.


A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley: 1000 acres of farmland in Iowa.


You, Caroline Kepnes: old school New York, like in the movies, with brownstones and small bookstores.


The Woman I Wanted To Be, Diane von Furstenburg: travels all over Europe, frequently with royalty and/or celebrities.

Best YA/Grade School Book (Animated Short Film)

Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli: At a quiet high school, Stargirl continues to put fresh sunflowers on her desk every day among other things, despite Leo’s pleas for her to conform and try to fit in.


Uglies, Scott Westerfeld: What if we all had plastic surgery to make ourselves beautiful at 16? What would the cost be?


Flipped, Wendelin Van Draanen: A romance told from two voices, at two different times, with two different feelings toward each other.


The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster: A classic for a good reason, with lots of word play and humor that’s still relevant even now.


Inside the Shadow City, Kirsten Miller: A darker side of New York that includes an enormous underground tunnel system and a group of middle schoolers with various talents out for revenge.

As one of my 2020 resolutions was to read more books, hopefully, this inspires you to switch out Netflix for a book once in a while as well!

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Angelina is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in Public Relations. Originally from the Bay Area, California, she is currently still adjusting to experiencing real seasons. Her hobbies include looking for cheap flights, listening to "Why'd You Push that Button," and going to Trader Joe's.
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.