BookPal’s OWL Book Awards Shortlist

OWL Book Awards Shortlist

We are so excited to announce this year’s OWL Book Awards Shortlist!

Congratulations to the nine titles that have made it to the OWL Book Awards Shortlist!! It was difficult to narrow down the longlist, because all the titles we reviewed were amazing in their own ways. Below are the three finalists in each category and our official review of each.


1. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond


Take a peek into one of the most urgent issues facing America today: extreme poverty and economic exploitation. Desmond takes the reader to the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge.

Our thoughts: This powerful book sheds a light on the poverty in America. Though the subject matter can prove frustrating, Evicted is a very important read for those looking to understand all that is going on in poorer neighborhoods around the U.S.

2. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race by Jesmyn Ward

The Fire This Time

This New York Times best seller brings together the most important voices of a new generation to speak on racism. Eighteen essays and poems make up this collection that shines a light on the past, present, and future of American race relations.

Our thoughts: This is an influential and important text for a new generation of readers. The compilation of essays makes this an engaging and constantly changing narrative that you can’t put down. The First This Time is extremely relevant for readers all over the world. Ward masterfully adapts the essence and purpose of Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time” for a new audience.

3. We Found A Hat by Jon Klassen

We Found a Hat

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles and only one hat. Who will end up with the hat? Deadpan prose and simple illustrations make this picture book a must for young readers.

Our thoughts: This is an adorable book! It is a great way to teach young ones about sharing. It’s a sweet portrayal of friendship with a quiet, gentle tone. Simple and meaningful, this story’s illustrations are as humorous as they are brilliant.



1. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The Power of Moments

Best-selling authors Chip and Dan Heath explore why certain brief experiences can change us forever. Learn how elevation, insight, pride, and connection create our most memorable positive moments in life. Why leave these moments to chance when you can create them yourself?

Our thoughts: The Power of Moments helps readers decide what defining moments are and how to create life-changing defining moments. Such an interesting concept to reflect on! It is filled with practical ideas that are applicable to business, education, and personal life.

2. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio


Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, shares a unique set of principles he believes are the reason behind his success. He lays out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams through hundreds of practical lessons.

Our thoughts: Principles is a tell-all business book; a bible of sorts for business. It’s detailed narration is a great read for those embedded in the business world, especially for those interested in investing. As the cover suggests, this book has been praised by many notable figures — and deservedly so!

3. Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman

Thank You For Being Late

Learn how the planet’s three largest forces — technology, globalization, and climate change — are accelerating all at once and how they are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community.

Our thoughts: Friedman is clearly an expert in his field. His prose is easy to understand, yet complex enough to be thought-provoking. Readers will appreciate the optimism and clarity of thought as well as the insightful analysis.



1. Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink

Discipline Equals Freedom

Former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink uses his experiences to provide a guide for achieving freedom through discipline. This manual includes strategies and tactics for conquering weakness, procrastination, and fear; physical training tips; and the best sleep habits and food intake for optimal performance.

Our thoughts: Jocko Willink delivers a hard-hitting manifesto on business and life. Its simple, straightforward, and no-nonsense tone paired with a down-to-earth and relatable narration makes this book valuable to anyone who strives to better themselves each and every single day.

2. No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon by Erik Weihenmayer and Buddy Levy

No Barriers

Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to summit Mt. Everest. In this memoir, Weihenmayer chronicles his journey since descending the highest point on Earth in 2001, from leading expeditions around the world to kayaking solo through the rapids of the Grand Canyon.

Our thoughts: From the first page to his last remarks, Weihenmayer grabs readers’ attention with accounts of his heart-pounding adventures. This book will surely empower others to overcome the barriers in their own lives and embrace diversity.

3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air

After being diagnosed with cancer, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi adjusts from the role of a doctor treating the dying to a patient struggling to survive. He provides a reflection on the challenges of facing death and the relationship between doctor and patient – in which he became both.

Our thoughts: When Breath Becomes Air provides a unique perspective on health from someone who is deeply embedded in the field. Kalanithi’s writing is easy to understand and follow while it also provides a simple yet powerful narrative that will resound with the medical community — as well as those that are being cared for.


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This post was written by Megan Habel, the marketing associate at BookPal. She is currently reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

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