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Sir Paul McCartney’s The Lyrics scoops top 2021 book prize

·3 min read

Sir Paul McCartney’s book, The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present, has won a prize voted for by booksellers.

Published last month, it has been named Waterstones Book of the Year 2021

It features 154 songs from all stages of his career, spanning The Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist, and includes lyrics from Hey Jude, Blackbird, Penny Lane, Band On The Run, Live And Let Die, and more.

The Lyrics, which was edited and introduced by Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon, also features unseen personal photographs, drafts and drawings from Sir Paul’s personal archive, with each song accompanied by a commentary offering insight into his creative process.

Waterstones book of the year
Sir Paul McCartney and his book, The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present. which has been named Waterstones Book of the Year 2021 (Waterstones/PA)

Sir Paul said: “What an amazing honour! Thanks, Waterstones, for this prestigious accolade. I’m really happy at the reaction to The Lyrics, and to be chosen by the bookselling experts themselves for this is truly overwhelming.

“All those involved in putting the book together worked really hard and this is a great way for us all to celebrate. Bookshops rule! Cheers Waterstones!”

Waterstones chief executive James Daunt said: “The Lyrics is stunningly beautiful and a masterpiece of book design, a true joy for bibliophiles. Paul McCartney has fashioned, through the explorations of his songs with the poet Paul Muldoon, a fascinating insight into his life and creative genius. The booksellers of Waterstones are proud to celebrate this magnificent and deeply original book.”

Waterstones booksellers vote each year for the books they have enjoyed recommending to customers, with this year resulting in two winners: the Waterstones Book of the Year and the Children’s Gift of the Year – Julia And The Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Illustrated by Tom de Freston, the book is described as “a captivating tale of a young girl’s search for the elusive Greenland shark”.

Waterstones book of the year
Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston’s book Julia And The Shark was named Children’s Gift of the Year by Waterstones (Waterstones/PA)

The author and artist met in 2009 and are now married.

In 2017 Millwood Hargrave won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize after wowing judges with her debut novel, The Girl Of Ink And Stars.

While creating Julia And The Shark, de Freston’s studio suffered a “devastating fire”, resulting in artwork for the book being made using materials like “ash and fragments of artworks destroyed”, an “act of transformation and hope, reflecting the central message of the book”.

The couple, who live in Oxford, said: “We are awed to be awarded this particular honour. We made this story to celebrate the natural world, to celebrate families, and to celebrate curiosity and strangeness.

“To think of our Greenland shark swimming into so many hands this Christmas is extraordinary. Thank you to each and every one of the booksellers who help our book find its readers.”

Waterstones children’s buyer Florentyna Martin said: “Championed by Waterstones booksellers from the very beginning, Julia’s lyrical quest to find the elusive Greenland shark is an incredible piece of storytelling from Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

“Exploring powerful topics with warmth and honesty, and paired with Tom de Freston’s immersive artwork, we are elated to share and celebrate this highly creative novel.”

Previous winners of the Waterstones Book of the Year prize include Sally Rooney’s Normal People, which was adapted into a popular TV series, and Hamnet, written by Maggie O’Farrell.

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