Our Book of the Year 2020 is...

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty has been named Hay Festival Book of the Year 2020 after hundreds of book lovers nominated their favourite titles of the year online.

The announcement comes on the eve of Hay Festival Digital Winter Weekend, which brings writers and readers together 26-29 November 2020 in a free digital wonderland of prize-winning literature, thoughtful conversation, candle-lit storytelling, comedy, music, and fun for all the family. Now in its 21st year, the Festival will be streamed live from Hay-on-Wye, kicking off the holiday season from the town of books in all its festive glory with a star-studded line-up of speakers and performers.

Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as an autistic teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning.

His win follows awards for The Five by Hallie Rubenhold in 2019, Inventing Ourselves by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore in 2018 and The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris in 2017. 

Gareth Howell-Jones, bookshop manager at Hay Festival, said: “In Diary of a Young Naturalist Dara McAnulty shares his extraordinary vision of nature. It's both lyrical and exact – above all, it’s hopeful. The book was one of the most talked about in our spring event and we are delighted to celebrate it as our title of 2020.”

McAnulty’s Hay Festival Digital conversation about the book with Steve Silberman is the Festival’s free film of the week on Hay Player now at hayfestival.org/hayplayer.