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Shortlist for the 2019 Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Award Announced

Posted by Megan Habel on Nov 21, 2019

Shortlist for the 2019 Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Award Announced

OWL Award Shortlist

At BookPal, we believe in the power of books to ignite continuous learning and growth. Two years ago, we created the Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Awards to recognize books that do just that.

Over the years, we’ve seen many great titles rise to the top.  This year, we’ve expanded the field immensely to reflect the diverse types of books we sell every day. The result is fifteen categories under overarching themes of business, education, and miscellaneous. After narrowing down the list to five longlisted titles in each category, our editorial team has selected the top three books per category that represent top reading recommendations for individuals and teams to inspire new ideas, expand perspectives, and fall in love with reading.

Introducing the three shortlisted books in each category:


Big Idea

IndistractableIndistractable by Nir Eyal

Learn about the hidden psychology that drives us to distraction and practical techniques you can use to control your time and attention.


LoonshotsLoonshots by Safi Bahcall

Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior and the challenges of nurturing radical breakthroughs. He shows how this new kind of science helps us understand the fate of companies and empires. Loonshots distills these insights into lessons for creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries everywhere.


RangeRange by David Epstein

David Epstein examined the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters, and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. People who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.



It's the ManagerIt’s the Manager by Jim Clifton & Jim Harter

Packed with 52 discoveries from Gallup’s largest study on the future of work, It’s the Manager shows leaders how to adapt their organizations to rapid change.


Management Mess to Leadership SuccessManagement Mess to Leadership Success by Scott Miller

Change the way you manage yourself, lead others, and produce results with the 30 leadership challenges found in this book.


Trillion Dollar CoachTrillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, & Alan Eagle

Based on interviews with over eighty people who knew and loved Bill Campbell, Trillion Dollar Coach explains his principles and illustrates them with stories from the many great people and companies with which he worked. The result is a blueprint for forward-thinking business leaders and managers that will help them create higher performing and faster-moving cultures, teams, and companies.


Management & Culture

How to be an Inclusive LeaderHow to Be an Inclusive Leader by Jennifer Brown

Diversity and inclusion expert Jennifer Brown provides a step-by-step guide for the personal and emotional journey we must undertake to create an inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive.


Nine Lies about WorkNine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall

Strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Team Intelligence head Ashley Goodall call out nine big lies running through our organizational lives, reveal the core truths of the real world of work, and inspire freethinking leaders everywhere.


The RemixThe Remix by Lindsey Pollak

The essential guide for business leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees looking to navigate today’s multigenerational workplace, which spans more generations than ever before.


Sales & Marketing

Connected StrategyConnected Strategy by Nicolaj Siggelkow & Christian Terwiesch

Integrating rich examples, how-to advice, and practical tools in the form of "workshop chapters" throughout, this book is the ultimate resource for creating a competitive advantage through connected relationships with your customers and redefined connections in your industry.


Hello, My Name is AwesomeHello, My Name is Awesome, 2nd Edition by Alexandra Watkins

Every year, 6 million companies and more than 100,000 products are launched. They all need an awesome name, but many (such as Xobni, Svbtle, and Doostang) look like the results of a drunken Scrabble game. In this newly updated and highly-engaging book, Alexandra Watkins explains how anyone can create buzz-worthy brand names. No degree in linguistics required.


The IconistThe Iconist by Jamie Mustard

Through pop culture and historical narratives, branding expert Jamie Mustard explains why certain things stand out, stick, and endure in the mind—and why others do not.


Women in Business

Dig Your Heels InDig Your Heels In by Joan Kuhl

What if you could transform your company from the inside out? Biased, male-dominated corporate cultures have forced far too many women out of the companies they’ve aspired to work for. Dig Your Heels In is a first of its kind playbook that empowers women to disrupt the corporate achievement game and be catalysts for positive change.


Everything is FigureoutableEverything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Become the creative force of your own life by retraining your brain to think more creatively and positively in the face of setback.


The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is YouThe Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You by Lydia Fenet

Lydia shares the revolutionary sales approach she has crafted over the years that has not only shaped her career, but helped her raise more than half a billion dollars for nonprofits around the world.


Picture Books

SulweSulwe by Lupita Nyong’o & Vashti Harrison

Discover a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.


The NeighborsThe Neighbors by Einat Tsarfati

As a young girl climbs the seven stories to her own (very boring!) apartment, she imagines what’s behind each of the doors she passes. Each spread reveals—in lush detail—the wilds of the girl’s imagination, from a high-flying circus to an underwater world and everything in between.


When Sadness is at Your DoorWhen Sadness Is at Your Door by Eva Eland

A comforting primer in emotional literacy and mindfulness that suggests we approach the feeling of sadness as if it is our guest.



AlliesAllies by Alan Gratz

Follow along as a U.S. soldier, a French spy, a paratrooper, and a medic race against time to complete their high-stakes missions.


Child of the DreamChild of the Dream by Sharon Robinson

Discover an incredible memoir from Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, about one of the most important years of the civil rights movement.


GutsGuts by Raina Telgemeier

Conquer your fears with Raina as she attempts to go through a day of school with an upset tummy.


Middle School

Song for a WhaleSong for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

In the spirit of modern-day classics like Fish in a Tree and Counting by 7s comes the story of a deaf girl’s connection to a whale whose song can’t be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.


The Boy at the Back of the ClassThe Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf

Told with humor and heart, The Boy at the Back of the Class offers a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense.


White BirdWhite Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio

Inspired by her blockbuster phenomenon Wonder, R.J. Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with an unforgettable story of the power of kindness and unrelenting courage in a time of war.


High School

Color Me InColor Me In by Natasha Díaz

This powerful coming-of-age novel pulled from personal experience explores the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.


Scars Like WingsScars Like Wings by Erin Stewart

One year after the fire that claimed her parents' and cousin's lives and left her severely disfigured, sixteen-year-old Ava faces the return to high school.


SHOUTSHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson

Inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published in 1999, Laurie Halse Anderson presents a searing poetic memoir in which she shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before.


Advanced Reading

A Woman is No ManA Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Three generations of Palestinian-American women in contemporary Brooklyn are torn by individual desire, educational ambitions, a devastating tragedy, and the strict mores of traditional Arab culture.


I'm Telling the Truth But I'm LyingI’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi

This deeply personal collection of essays explores Nigerian-American author Bassey Ikpi’s experiences navigating Bipolar II and anxiety throughout the course of her life.


The Book Woman of Troublesome CreekThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

A young outcast braves the hardships of Kentucky’s Great Depression and brings truly magical objects to her people: books. Inspired by the brave women of the Pack Horse Library Project.


Health & Wellness

Best SelfBest Self by Mike Bayer

By working through each of the Seven SPHERES of life—Social, Personal, Health, Education, Relationships, Employment, and Spiritual Development—Best Self is an accessible and interactive book that distills all of Coach Mike's wisdom into a compact, focused guide that will ignite anyone's desire for change.


Permission to FeelPermission to Feel by Marc Brackett

Learn strategies and skills with which to promote mental wellbeing in our children, our society, and ourselves.


The Power of AgencyThe Power of Agency by Paul Napper & Anthony Rao

Agency is the ability to act as an effective agent for yourself- reflecting, making creative choices, and constructing a meaningful life. Grounded in extensive psychological research, The Power of Agency gives you the tools to help alleviate anxiety, manage competing demands, and help you live your version of success.


Gift & Special Interest

1000 Places to See Before You Die1,000 Places to See Before You Die, Deluxe Edition by Patricia Schultz

A photo-driven, deluxe gift-book edition of the bestselling travel book of all time, every spread and page designed to showcase these mesmerizing photographs and hold just enough of Schultz’s lively text that we know why it is we’re looking at them.


Brilliant Maps for Curious MindsBrilliant Maps for Curious Minds by Ian Wright

These 100 full-color maps—some serious (the distribution of the world’s major religions), some more humorous (countries where there aren’t any McDonald’s)—aim to change the way you see connections between countries


How ToHow To by Randall Munroe

As he did so brilliantly in What If?, Randall Munroe invites us to explore the most absurd reaches of the possible. Full of clever infographics and amusing illustrations, How To is a delightfully mind-bending way to better understand the science and technology underlying the things we do every day.



Holy EnvyHoly Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor

Renowned and beloved Christian preacher Barbara Brown Taylor recounts her discoveries of finding the sacred in unexpected places while teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates in Baptist-saturated rural Georgia, revealing how God delights in confounding our expectations.


How the Bible Actually WorksHow the Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns

Get ready to rethink how you understand the Bible. In How the Bible Actually Works, Bible scholar, popular podcast host, and author Peter Enns shows why Christians should cherish and love their Bibles, just not in the ways they have been taught.


Joseph and the Way of ForgivenessJoseph and the Way of Forgiveness by Stephen Mitchell

Stephen Mitchell offers a riveting novelistic version of the Biblical tale in which Jacob’s favorite son is sold into slavery and eventually becomes viceroy of Egypt. Mitchell’s retelling, which reads like a postmodern novel, interweaves the narrative with brief meditations that, with their Zen surprises, expand the narrative and illuminate its main themes.


Politics & Current Events

Grace Will Lead Us HomeGrace Will Lead Us Home by Jennifer Berry Hawes

Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Berry Hawes delivers a deeply moving account of the aftermath of the tragic Charleston Church Massacre.


The ThreatThe Threat by Andrew McCabe

The Threat recounts in compelling detail the time between Donald Trump's November 2016 election and McCabe's firing, set against a page-turning narrative spanning two decades when the FBI's mission shifted to a new goal: preventing terrorist attacks on Americans.


The Witches Are ComingThe Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

In this wickedly funny cultural critique, the author of the critically acclaimed memoir and Hulu series Shrill exposes misogyny in the #MeToo era.


Biography & Memoir

FormationFormation by Ryan Leigh Dostie

Ryan Leigh Dostie describes her time as a soldier in the United States Army where she was raped by a fellow soldier and had to cope with PTSD, isolation, and commanders who did not believe her story.


Sea StoriesSea Stories by William H. McRaven

Admiral William H. McRaven recalls stories of adventure during his career as a Navy SEAL and commander of America's Special Operations Forces.


They Called Us EnemyThey Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, & Harmony Becker

A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei’s childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon—and America itself—in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.


Sign up for our blog newsletter to find out which titles will win the OWL Award for their category!

This post was written by Megan Habel, the brand strategist at BookPal. She is currently reading Nine Lies about Work by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall.