Big Read 2023

The Kingston University Big Read is our award-winning shared-reading scheme. Each year we choose a book that we will share across our community and produce our own bespoke KU edition. All incoming students are given a copy, usually through the post before they arrive, or sometimes on arrival. Copies are also available to students and staff already here, and to members of our wider local community. The book gives everyone something in common before they arrive and means there is something to talk about before the first day. In 2017, the project won the highly prestigious Times Higher Education Award for best outreach/widening participation initiative. We also share the project – and monitor the outcomes – with two other universities.

The Kingston University Big Read 2023 shortlist, which is drawn from books recommended by students and staff, comprises a range of titles from international publishers and authors. These books (presented below in alphabetical order) range from fiction and autobiography to short stories and non-fiction. They cover a variety of topics, including the maths of everyday life, female empowerment and emotional strength. 

If you are interested in taking part next year or have any book suggestions, then please contact Also feel free to share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #KUBR2023.

Winner of Big Read 2023

The winning title was Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of Machine by Hannah Fry.

All the titles on the 2023 shortlist were fantastic choices for the next Big Read, but Kingston students and staff were intrigued by the interesting short storied based on algorithms and data that shape the digital and physical world as we know it.

Cover of Hello World by Hannah Fry

Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of Machine by Hannah Fry.

Familiar from her many media appearances, academic and science communicator Hannah Fry offers us a collection of short stories based on real life-issues that involve data. She takes us on a tour of the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the many algorithms that surround us – and of which most of us are unaware.

Other shortlisted books

Just Sayin': My Life in Words
by Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman OBE is the author of Noughts and Crosses, Pig Heart Boy, Boys Don't Cry and many more bestselling books. Here she brings you the story of her life. What she offers is an illuminating, inspiring and empowering account of the power of words to change lives.

Cover of Just Sayin': My Life in Words by Malorie Blackman

Lessons in Chemistry
by Bonnie Garmus

In the early 1960s, brilliant young chemist Elizabeth Zott challenges what it means to be a woman in a male dominated society. A truly unforgettable heroine, she brings her unique approach to cooking – and to life in general – to change the status quo. Readers have unanimously cheered her on!

Cover of Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Cover of A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

A Slow Fire Burning
by Paula Hawkins

From the award-winning author of bestseller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins writes a thrilling and unforgettable tale of mystery, murder, and motives. As the plot twists we unravel the truth behind three remarkable characters and their unique stories. A real page-turner in search of the true killer.

Life Ceremony
by Sayaka Murata

Sayaka Murata, author of the international bestseller Convenience Store Woman, offers a deeply original collection of twelve short stories. Life Ceremony is a wildly interesting take on body horror, feminist revenge fables, romance, empathy and transformation. This book will surely capture your attention until the very last page.

Cover of Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata
Cover of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness 

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that do not quite seem to be working. But tonight, is different. When he wakes, there is a visitor at his window. It is ancient, elemental and a force of nature. It wants the truth from him. Author Patrick Ness weaves an extraordinary and uplifting tale of the courage it takes to survive.

Contact us

If you would like more information regarding the Kingston University Big Read, please contact us at

Alternatively, for press information, please contact the Kingston University Communications team.