Discover some of the awesome rare books we found in 2022 and what makes them special in this piece by Tom Kitson, Head of the Rare & Antiquarian division
My name is Tom Kitson and I have been running the Rare and Antiquarian section at AwesomeBooks for 10 years. I run a team of 9 people whose job is to identify all valuable, rare and interesting books and provide detailed specialist listings of such books. During this time we have seen some incredible finds, from 17th century bibles, to signed books from Kipling, Conan Doyle and many other authors of note.
Over the last year, we have had 2 finds that stand out particularly.
Animal Farm — First Edition
The first was a 1st edition copy of Animal Farm. This is one of my favourite books so was a really exciting find for me personally. I particularly love the history and politics behind the book and the impact that a book of only 93 pages had.
Gray’s Anatomy — 3rd Edition published in 1864
The other find was a 3rd edition copy of Gray’s Anatomy from 1864. As one of the first accurate medical books, this book really represents the birth of modern medicine and early editions such as this one are incredibly rare. The colour illustrations are particularly impressive and are in perfect condition.
Long before Bilbo Baggin’s and Frodo’s adventures, evil forces threaten Middle-earth. The Rings of Power follows an ensemble cast of both new and known faces as the major events of the Second Age of Middle-earth take place. The series sees a young and headstrong Galadriel go from a fearless warrior to the wise elder we see in the Lord of The Rings time.
The history of the House Targaryen was one of the biggest sources of questions in the fantasy series that became the world’s obsession. Now, The House of the Dragon seeks to answer them.
We return to the world of Game Of Thrones in this new HBO series, where the main focus is the rise and fall of the house that ruled over Westeros for hundreds of years before the rebellion that landed Robert Baratheon on the throne. Starring Matt Smith from The Crown and Doctor Who fame alongside Emma D’Arcy and Paddy Considine, the series has received glowing reviews, and has reignited the GoT craze. Delve deeper into the world of intrigue, scheming and betrayal when you get FIRE AND BLOOD, the book that inspired the series, or THE RISE OF THE DRAGON, an amazing visual introduction to the House of Targaryen.
Alice Oseman first made her name online. Millions read her LBTQ+ web comic HEARTSTOPPER before her books made it into bookshop shelves, and now, after jumping from the internet into paper, HEARTSTOPPER makes yet another leap, this time into our TV screens!
The first season of HEARTSTOPPER available on Netflix, follows two teens, Nick and Charlie. Charlie is a highly strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful soft-hearted rugby player. When they meet at a British all-boys grammar school, friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
The phenomenon this book and later the TV show caused only goes to show how important representation is, how seeing yourself on the page or on the screen can make the difference between feeling like the odd one out and being a part of something big, something beautiful, something important.
Heartstopper is a love story but also a love letter to all of those who at some point might have felt left out.
Another AWESOME fantasy adaptation in the list! (What a year it’s been for us fantasy fans, hasn’t it?) This one, like Heartstopper was not adapted from a book perse, but in this case, from a comic that ran from 1989 to 1996 written by Neil Gaiman, who you might know from iconic fils like Coraline, or last year’s Good Omens.
The Sandman stars Tom Sturridge as The Sandman/Morpheus, the personification of dreams who is captured in an occult ritual in 1916. After escaping, he sets out to restore his realm, and the series follows his efforts and his encounters with other powerful creatures straight out of a fairy tale… or a nightmare.
The series is the perfect balance of dark and fantastical, and encapsulates the feel of the comics perfectly. Unmissable for fans of Neil Gaiman and of myth-based stories.
National treasure Ben Whishaw stars in the BBC adaptation of Adam Kay’s bestselling novel THIS IS GOING TO HURT. The 8 episode series follows his experiences as a junior doctor within the NHS, the highs and lows and everything in between with a dash of humour and a lot of heart. Even though the series is very enjoyable, to get the full experience you really ought to get lost within the pages of the book. Kay’s unique voice has made him into an icon that sells out shows all around the country when he goes on tour.
If you enjoyed THIS IS GOING TO HURT, you must read UNDOCTORED, his latest book. You’ll not only be getting more of Kay’s brilliant observations and insight into the life of a doctor that decided to quit, but when you get a copy of UNDOCTORED, you’ll be supporting The Lullaby Trust, an AWESOME organisation that works to raise awareness around Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and to support the families touched by the tragedy of losing a child. £5 of each copy will go towards them, and a book will also be donated to a child in a UK hospital.
When you buy UNDOCTORED by bestselling author and comedian Adam Kay you’ll be supporting the Lullaby Trust and donating a book to a child in need! £5 of every copy will go towards helping The Lullaby Trust fund the distribution of life-saving safer sleep advice to four families with new babies.
The Lullaby Trust raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies and offers emotional support for bereaved families. “Around 1 in 1000 otherwise healthy babies may die suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep (…) This is the commonest group of deaths in childhood of children without known underlying medical problems.” (Sebire & Bryant) To this day, The Lullaby Trust has spent over £12 million on over 265 research projects to try and find out more about potential causes and risk factors for this condition.
As well as funding vital research, The Lullaby Trust offers support to bereaved families, and advice based on strong scientific evidence to help parents reduce the risk of SIDS.
Adam Kay has been a patron of TLT since 2019, contributing to raise awareness about their mission and through fundraising in his nationwide tours. We are delighted to be collaborating with Adam and the Trust to support their efforts by donating five pounds for every copy of UNDOCTORED we sell. Your purchase will also be contributing to improving literacy in the country, as one book will be donated to a child in need for every book we sell as part of our Book for Book initiative.
Some stories are so good they need to be told in several parts! The urge to find out what happens next is more than relatable, but don’t despair! We have picked our top four fantasy book series being completed this year, so now is the perfect time to catch up ahead of the big finale!
From the bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new thrilling fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas’ A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES.
This series has everything: magic, a strong female main character willing to go to Hell and back to avenge her sister, and an unlikely alliance with a snarky Wicked prince constantly getting on her nerves. The writing will keep you hooked from the beginning and won’t let you go, and thankfully the conclusion to Emilia’s story will hit the shelves in just a few weeks, which makes this the perfect time to pick up the first two parts of the trilogy ahead of the release of KINGDOM OF THE FEARED.
KINGDOM OF THE WICKED SYNOPSIS
Two sisters. One brutal murder. A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself… And an intoxicating romance.
Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution.
When Emilia finds the body of her beloved twin she sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked—princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…
If you are a fan of folkloric fantasy, this is the series for you. Inspired by the Grimm Brother’s tale of The Six Swans comes the new duology by the bestselling author of the Spin the Dawn series.Set in an East-Asian inspired world, these beautiful, spellbinding books will take you on a journey alongside an exiled princess striving to rescue her brothers and break a curse that has put her happiness —and the whole kingdom— at risk.
The haunting story of the Six Swans was one that stuck with me from a very early age, in the back of my mind until I picked up Six Crimson Cranes and it all came back running. The twist Elizabeth Lim gave it, though, transported me into a completely different world than the one I remembered from the original fairytale, and I was blown away. The world-building is immaculate, and it’s impossible not to feel a whole range of emotions alongside Shiori’anma. Her love for her family and her commitment to free them from the course pulls at your heartstrings from the get go. Something I particularly enjoyed was seeing how a different perspective can breathe in new life into a familiar story, and if you are looking for a read that will pull you right in, the SIX CRIMSON CRANES duology is just the thing to go for.
SIX CRIMSON CRANES SYNOPSIS
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain – no matter what it costs.
Hunted meets The Wrath and the Dawn in this bold fairytale retelling —where court intrigue, false identities, and dark secrets will thrill fans of classic and contemporary fantasy alike.
One of the most interesting aspects of this series is how it started out as a self-published work and garnered enough popularity it was then picked up and published traditionally. The thought of being able to disappear from a life imposed on you and start a new one you can make your own was clearly appealing to a wide group of people, so much so that it brought the attention of publishers who turned the internet sensation into a mainstream hit. It is the second Grimm Brothers’ retelling of this list, which shows us a trend I personally hope doesn’t end soon. There is something so interesting about seeing the direction different authors can take classic fairytales and how they can make them unique through the writing and through a re-imagining of characters that feel like they have a mind of their own.
When her mother betroths Alyrra to a powerful prince in a distant kingdom, she has little hope for a better future —that is until she arrives at her new kingdom, where a mysterious sorceress robs her of both her identity and her role as princess. Finally she has the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But as Alyrra uncovers dangerous secrets about her new world, including a threat to the prince himself, she knows she can’t remain silent forever. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds, and ultimately must decide who she is and what she stands for.
Two witches. One motive. And a very untrustworthy alliance…
This Caribbean inspired YA duology is unlike anything you’ve read before. This tale of magic, betrayal and revenge is going to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Seeing more diverse voices break through into the UK publishing landscape is a welcome turn. This time Jamaican-born Ciannon Smart provided us with this thrilling tale packed with subtle traces of her heritage, inviting the reader into a refreshingly new narrative. With a dash of Killing Eve, and more than a generous serving of magic and unique world building, this duology should be in every booklover’s shelf.
There’s an infinity of perspectives and cultures with endless potential to enrich fiction, and seeing more and more titles come out (and become wildly popular) that reflect that is a breath of fresh air.
WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD SYNOPSIS Iraya Adair has spent her life in a cell. Heir of an overthrown and magically-gifted dynasty, she was exiled from her home on the island nation of Aiyca when she was just a child. But every day brings her closer to freedom —and vengeance.
Jazmyne Cariot grew up dressed in gold, with stolen magic at her fingertips. Daughter of the self-crowned doyenne, her existence is a threat to her mother’s rule. But unlike her sister, Jazmyne has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.
Sworn enemies, the two witches enter a deadly alliance to take down the woman who threatens both their worlds.
But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain —except the lengths Iraya and Jazmyne will go to win this game.
What is your most anticipated release of the year? Tell us in the comments!
Meet the magical Dolls from the Sticker Dolly Dressing world! They have some awesome book recommendations you don’t want to miss out on!
Graces favourite books are:
Lilly’s recommendations are perfect for nature-inclined kids!
Molly’s adventure spirit means she’s always looking for the next awesome thing to do! Explore with the mermaids or go on a horse around the Enchanted Island along her with the amazing sticker books below
Colour in your own versions of the Sticker Dolly Dressing magic dolls!
Your purchases helped refresh and diversify the selection of the Coulsdon Oasis Academy Library, providing hundreds of kids with awesome books to fall in love with reading and improve their literacy skills.
The Coulsdon Oasis Academy didn’t use to have a library. When the building was designed, the expectation was that pupils would move towards digital mediums to read books, but when Mr Gourd, the new head of English took over, he was shocked to find children didn’t have a space dedicated to the love of reading.
Fast forward a couple of years and now Coulsdon Oasis had a functional library with reference books, and some for younger children, but very few options that would appeal to their students, books they could see themselves in and feel compelled to pick up and take home.
Their librarian got in touch with us and together we were able to come up with a list of books that would suit their needs, and so we donated over 400 books to the school including class sets. Our donation helped with diversifying their book selection as we hand-picked 100 titles to cater for their specific needs including black history and geography.
The current head of English, Mr J O’Shea said about their commitment with literacy: “Every time we ask a student to read, write or speak we are modelling the very highest standards in literacy in the classroom.
Encouraging a love for engagement with texts and a reading culture at home may be one of the best gifts that can ever be bestowed on the next generation.
THANK YOU AwesomeBooks for your amazing contribution to our resources and the development of literacy and the love of reading at Oasis Coulsdon!”
See the pictures of the library transformation that you enabled below!
“Over the summer of 2019 we had a new purpose built library” Pictures courtesy of Coulsdon Oasis Academy
The Awesome Books that arrived in Coulsdon Oasis Academy are being enjoyed by their hundreds of students
Every time you buy a book from us we donate a book to someone who doesn’t have one, so every time you choose to buy from AwesomeBooks, you are making an impact in someone else’s life.
Almost 400,000 children in the UK do not own a book, and the proportion of children without books is increasing. It now sits at one in three, when in 2005 the number was closer to 1 in 10.
Studies show that children with their own books are more likely to be above-average readers and do better at school. Meanwhile children without books are more likely to live in poverty.
At Awesomebooks we are committed to working with schools, communities and partners around the world to give people access to the resources they need to develop the literacy skills that will enable them to write a brighter new chapter in their lives.
Here are just a few of those stories:
ABC To Read:
“Thank you to Awesome Books for the wonderful donation of books that we will be able to use with struggling readers in schools this year. The additional books means that our volunteers will be able to mentor children at a safe distance by having a book each. Children’s reading will have fallen further behind during the pandemic and so it is vital that our services are able to continue. Donations such as these are so important for charities to be able to continue.”
Marcia Rowlinson ABC To Read CEO
Coulsdon Oasis Academy
Every time we ask a student to read, write or speak we are modelling the very highest standards in literacy in the classroom.
Encouraging a love for engagement with texts and a reading culture at home may be one of the best gifts that can ever be bestowed on the next generation.
THANK YOU Awesome Books for your amazing contribution to our resources and the development of literacy and the love of reading at Oasis Coulsdon! ☺
Director of English Department Mr J O’Shea
Books for Africa — Kenya:
“The collection from London offered us a great deal of different books, not to mention the huge number of books per container. We created about 400 libraries from it!”
At AwesomeBooks we work to stop books being thrown away. We create ways to collect books that people no longer want, selling them to our customers around the world and donating them to literacy programs we work with.
It is our mission to champion a different model of retailing – circular economy retailing – positively contributing to sustainability and literacy, driven by a passion for books. So when you buy from AwesomeBooks.com, we help you make an impact with every book.
Leading children’s literacy charity, UK Reads, has partnered with circular economy bookseller AwesomeBooks to tackle the literacy gap by providing more than 30,000 free books to schools in disadvantaged communities.
Reading for pleasure is the single biggest factor in determining a child’s future success, but there are currently more than 413,000 children in the UK who do not own a single book of their own. UK Reads are on a mission to ensure every child in the UK has access to free books and literacy support, and today they are calling for teachers and youth organisations to request free books for children living in poverty in their communities.
All UK schools can request free books from UK Reads for children without access to their own books, which will be supplied by Awesome Books. Over the past year Awesome Books has been working with UK Reads to donate more than 14,000 books for disadvantaged communities, and have now extended this partnership to pledge 30,000 high quality, pre-loved books to be distributed amongst disadvantaged pupils in 2022.
AwesomeBooks, one of the UK’s biggest online new and used book retailers, has a unique circular business model of sustainable bookselling centred around reuse, which means that no book is ever thrown away. Driven by a commitment to sustainability and literacy, the company collects books destined for landfill and repurposes high quality copies by reselling them or donating them to improve access to books and promote literacy.
Annie Ashford-Barnden, Program Director for UK Reads said: “Since UK Reads launched in November 2020, we have given over 13,000 books to children across the UK. This year, we want to distribute 30,000 books to help bridge the widening literacy gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, which has been exacerbated by the Covid 19.”
Simon Mackay, Head of Books at AwesomeBooks, said: “Our team at AwesomeBooks is committed to collaboratingwith schools, communities and partners around the world to improve access to books, and to give people the literacy skills they need to succeed in life. Ensuring that no book ever goes to waste and every single book makes an impact, we are thrilled to be working with UK Reads, delivering pre-loved books into the hands of children and communities most impacted by the pandemic.”
Sarah Turner, aka The Unmumsy Mum, and UK Reads Ambassador, said: “As a mum to three boys who love stories, I find it hard to imagine a home without books yet sadly that is the reality for many children in the UK. I am proud to be involved with this wonderful campaign to get free books to children who need them most.”
Jon James, Assistant Headteacher at a London school, said: “The books from UK Reads have helped significantly with providing our most vulnerable pupils with additional reading materials to support their learning and foster love for reading. Many of our pupils have struggled to access online books or, due to self-isolating, have not been able to access libraries. Therefore, being able to provide them with additional books has helped immeasurably.”
Jo Stroud, Head Teacher at a Peterborough school, said: “For a child to be given a book that belongs to them will impact on their self esteem and self worth. It will also encourage children to read within the home, helping bring families together to have a story time, and allow children to practice their own reading skills.”
Hannah Wooldridge, Librarian at Cranbrook Campus, says: “By UK Reads providing books that pupils can take home as their own, it will hopefully give them an experience of ownership, not just of books themselves but of the whole reading process. Together we are sending the message that books and reading are for everyone and that nobody should be without them.”