2022 OWL Awards Shortlist

2022 OWL Awards Shortlist

By Sophie Butler , Dec 8th 2022

It’s hard to believe that the time has already come to share with you our 2022 OWL Awards Shortlist. Our BookPal book experts carefully assessed our longlist and chose the books that stood out to us for the way they are transforming and challenging our personal ideas. Each of these books we feel aren’t only unique but also impacting our society today with their insights and storytelling.

Our marketing and ecommerce manager shares her thoughts on our shortlist finalists.

We are amazed at the titles we saw come through for 2022 OWL Award nominees. With thousands of books published each year, it's truly incredible to see new ideas and stories rising to the top.

From personal stories to shared experiences, across Education and Business titles, we saw common themes of compassion and leaving a positive impact on others. We saw multiple books on struggle and achievement, the impact of Covid-19, and overcoming challenges in society today. Each story told in its own unique way. I was moved by the books I read for this year’s OWL Awards and hope that you get a chance to read them too.

- Kayla Brown - Manager, Marketing & Ecommerce

Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for. We are thrilled to share our 2022 OWL Awards Shortlist!


Big Idea

1. Radical Curiosity: Questioning Commonly Held Beliefs to Imagine Flourishing Futures by Seth Goldenberg

In a world with an endless hunger for innovation, why is it so hard to create audacious change? Goldenberg argues that because we value knowing above learning and prioritize doing over thinking, curiosity has become an endangered species. Throughout this thought provoking book he introduces principles intended to spark our own questioning and introduce a new way of solving our most complex problems.

2. Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention--And How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari

Did you know in the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes? In this deep dive Hari shares what he learned on his epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.

3. The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward by Daniel H. Pink

Everybody has regrets. They’re a universal and healthy part of being human. In this engaging read, Pink lays out a dynamic new way of thinking about regret and debunks the myth of the “no regrets” philosophy of life. He shows that understanding how regret works can help us make smarter decisions, perform better at work and school, and bring greater meaning to our lives.



1. CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest by Carolyn Dewar, Scott Keller, and Vikram Malhotra

Being a CEO at any of the world’s largest companies is among the most challenging roles in business. This is why thirty percent of Fortune 500 CEOs last fewer than three years, and two out of five new CEOs are perceived to be failing within eighteen months. That’s why this insight-packed, revelatory look at how the best CEOs do their jobs is a must read to gain wisdom directly from today’s most elite business leaders.

2. Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others by Stephen M.R. Covey

Although our world has changed drastically, our leadership style has not adapted to the change. Covey challenges our beliefs about people and leadership that have been deeply ingrained in management approaches for decades in this bold but necessary leadership book. He introduces a new way of leading that starts with the belief that people are creative, collaborative, and full of potential. People don’t want to be managed; they want to be led.

3. Dare to un-Lead: The Art of Relational Leadership in a Fragmented World by Céline Schillinger

Can your leadership strategy make the world a better place? Schilinger explores how contemporary organizations can transform leadership from a top-down hegemony to one that empowers people to lead together. From large corporations to small businesses, the lessons learned in this book will make our workplaces more equal, our jobs more gratifying, and our economies more profitable.


Management & Culture

1. The Gift of Influence: Creating Life-Changing and Lasting Impact in Your Everyday Interactions by Tommy Spaulding

Did you know that researchers estimate that the average person will influence up to eighty thousand people over the course of their lifetime? In this compelling and deeply personal book, Spaulding explores how we can be more mindful and effective in wielding the influence that each of us has over others. An important book for people at every level within an organization.

2. Good Arguments: How Debate Teaches Us to Listen and Be Heard by Bo Seo

The ability to have good arguments is essential to a flourishing workplace. Drawing insights from its strategies, structure, and history, Seo teaches readers the skills of competitive debate, and in doing so shows how they can improve their communication with friends, family, and colleagues alike.

3. Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life by Marcus Buckingham

You’ve probably long been told to “Do what you love”. It may sound simple but can be a real challenge when you actually don’t know the real truth of what we love. In this eye-opening, uplifting book, Buckingham shows you how to break free from conformity- how to decode your own loves, turn them into their most powerful expression, and do the same for those you lead and those you love.


Sales & Marketing

1. Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect by Will Guidara

Will Guidara was twenty-six when he took the helm of Eleven Madison Park, now named the best restaurant in the world. See how Guidara pulled off a radical reinvention, a true partnership between the kitchen and the dining room- and memorable, over-the-top, bespoke hospitality. Learn how to turn your organization into a hospitality business- and transform ordinary transactions into extraordinary experiences.

2. Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication by Vanessa Van Edwards

Become fluent in the language of cues- the tiny signals we send to others 24/7 through our body language, facial expressions, word choice, and vocal inflection and the massive impact on how we come across to and interact with others. This is the book for anyone who wants to be heard at work, earn that overdue promotion, or win more clients, deals, and projects. 

3. Competing on Thought Leadership by Robert S. Buday

Entire conferences are built around it and corporate websites devote whole sections to it. But what really is “Thought Leadership”? Buday not only defines thought leadership concretely but also how to create a business strategy around it. See how to focus your business around thought leadership to drive better customer satisfaction.


Women in Business

1. Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (and Why It's Different Than You Think) by Reshma Saujani

Women have been told that to break glass ceilings and succeed in their careers, all they needed to do is dream big, raise hands, and lean in. But data tells a different story. In this urgent and rousing call to arms, Saujani argues the time has come for innovative corporate leadership, government intervention, and sweeping culture shift; it’s time to Pay Up.

2. The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women's Dead-End Work by Linda Babcock, Laurie Weingart, Brenda Peyser, and Lise Vesterlund

The No Club started when four women, crushed by endless to-do lists, banded together to get their work lives under control. They vowed to say no to requests that pulled them away from the work that mattered most to their careers. Read this groundbreaking research showing that women everywhere are unfairly burdened with “non-promotable work,” a tremendous problem we can—and must—solve.

3. Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World by Eliza Reid

Iceland is the best place on earth to be a woman- but why? Eliza Reid, the First Lady of Iceland, examines her adopted homeland’s attitude toward women- the deep-seated cultural sense of fairness, and crucially, the areas where Iceland still has room for improvement. Secrets of the Sprakkar is a powerful and atmospheric portrait of a tiny country that could lead the way forward for us all.


Picture Books

1. Eyes that Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho

When a friend at school creates a hurtful drawing, the boy turns to his family for comfort. He realizes that his eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars. They are like his father’s, his agong’s, and his little brother’s. Inspired by men in his family, he recognizes his own power and strength from within. This extraordinary picture book redefines what it means to be truly you.

2. That's Not My Name! by Anoosha Syed

Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can’t wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one. Mama helps Mirha to see how special her name is, and she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly- even if it takes a hundred tries.

3. Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero

Llewellyn does not like to feel afraid, sad, or lonely. And so he comes up with a brilliant plan: he tucks each of his feelings into jars and hides them away where they won’t bother him anymore. After a while, Llewellyn walks around not feeling much of anything at all. This universally relatable picture book shows that life is more colorful when he sets his emotions free. 



1. Izzy's Tail of Trouble by Caroline Adderson and Kelly Collier

Isabel’s dog Rollo just doesn't seem like himself these days. He doesn’t fit into any of the doll clothes anymore and keeps doing things that get him into a very big amount of trouble. Sure, Isabel bent the rules for Rollo when he was a baby, but now he’s a teenager and he’s out of control! Is there a cure for this?

2. Thirst by Varsha Bajaj

Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there is a water mafia boss. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life.

3. A Seed in the Sun by Aida Salazar

Lula Viramontes aches to one day become someone whom no one can ignore: a daring ringleader in a Mexican traveling circus. But between working the grape harvest in Delano, California, taking care of her younger siblings and Mamá, and doing everything she can to avoid Papá’s volatile temper, it’s hard to hold on to those dreams. But when she meets other labor rights activists she realizes she may need to raise her voice sooner rather than later: Farmworkers are striking for better treatment and wages, and whether Lula’s family joins them or not will determine their future.


Middle School

1. Turning by Joy L. Smith

Genie used to fouetté across the stage. Now the only thing she’s turning are the wheels to her wheelchair. Now that the future she’s spent years building toward has been snatched away, she can’t stand to be reminded of it—even if it means isolating herself from her best friends and her mother. But then she meets former gymnast Kyle. With Kyle’s support, Genie starts to see a new path—one where she doesn’t have to be alone and she finally has the strength to heal from the past.

2. Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King

When Mac first opens his classroom copy of The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he's outraged. So many adults want Mac to keep his words to himself. Mac's about to see the power of letting them out and see that truth is still worth fighting for.

3. New From Here by Kelly Yang

When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, where they think they will be safe. At his new school in California, Knox struggles with being the new kid. As racism skyrockets during COVID-19, Knox tries to stand up to hate, while finding his place in his new country. Can you belong if you’re feared; can you protect if you’re new? And how do you keep a family together when you’re oceans apart?


   First Year Experience

1. Solito: A Memoir by Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora’s parents started using the word trip about a year ago. The trip turns out to be a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border at only nine years old. A memoir as gripping as it is moving, Solito provides an immediate and intimate account not only of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also of the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments.

2. Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential by Tiago Forte

For the first time in history, we have instantaneous access to the world’s knowledge. Yet, rather than feeling empowered, we are often left feeling overwhelmed by this constant influx of information. Now, this eye-opening and accessible guide shows how you can easily create your own personal system for knowledge management, otherwise known as a Second Brain. Discover the full potential of your ideas and translate what you know into more powerful, more meaningful improvements in your work and life by Building a Second Brain.

3. Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain

Bittersweetness is a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy when beholding beauty. But bittersweetness is not, as we tend to think, just a momentary feeling or event. Cain shows how a bittersweet state of mind is the quiet force that helps us transcend our personal and collective pain. Learn how to transform our own pain into creativity, transcendence, and connection in this shortlist finalist. 


Community Read

1. The Marmalade Diaries: The True Story of an Odd Couple by Ben Aitken

While hunting for a room in London, Ben Aitken came across one for a great price in a lovely part of town. There had to be a catch. And there was. The catch was Winnie: an 85-year-old widow who doesn't suffer fools. Full of warmth, wit and candor, The Marmalade Diaries tells the story of an unlikely friendship built during an unlikely time. One of the pair, a grieving aristocrat in her mid-eighties. The other? A millennial snowflake. What could possibly go wrong? What could possibly go right?

2. Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness by Laura Coates

When Laura Coates joined the Department of Justice as a prosecutor, she wanted to advocate for the most vulnerable among us. But through Coates’s experiences, we see that no matter how fair you try to fight, being Black, a woman, and a mother are identities often at odds in the justice system. Through these revelatory and captivating scenes from the courtroom, Laura Coates explores the tension between the idealism of the law and the reality of working within the parameters of our flawed legal system, exposing the chasm between what is right and what is lawful.

3. In Search of Common Ground: Inspiring True Stories of Overcoming Hate in a Divided World by Bastian Berbner

In Search of Common Ground takes us around the world: to Arizona, where a former neo-Nazi befriends his Black parole officer; to Germany, where an older couple dread the arrival of their new Roma neighbors—but are moved upon meeting them to offer help, becoming their friends and champions; and more. Berbner’s intensively reported and compelling accounts are interwoven with expert insight. This uplifting book vividly shows that we can overcome prejudice and find common ground.


Make sure to keep your eyes out for our winners to be announced beginning of January 2023!

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