'Punctuation vigilante' beats Beckham to win book of the year award

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The Independent Culture

Lynne Truss's bestseller on punctuation, Eats, Shoots and Leaves,was named book of the year at the National Book Awards last night.

The volume has been the surprise non-fiction hit of the year, notching up more than 582,000 sales.

In the book, Ms Truss urges readers to become "punctuation vigilantes", by putting apostrophes into their rightful position.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves beat David Beckham's autobiography and Monica Ali's debut novel Brick Lane to the title. However, Beckham secured a special award for My Side , which sold 103,000 in its first week and has achieved a total sale of more than a million, making it the fastest-selling biography of all time.

The Real Madrid star did not attend last night's ceremony in London but, in a statement, he said he had never expected to break records. "But I am thrilled to get this award." He went on to thank everyone who bought the book and "most importantly" his family.

Another sporting hero, Martin Johnson, England's rugby world cup-winning team captain, won the sports book prize for his autobiography.

Mark Haddon topped his Whitbread prize success by winning both the children's book of the year and the literary fiction award.

Monica Ali was named newcomer of the year and Alexander McCall Smith, the creator of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's first female private detective, was author of the year. Nigel Slater, the chef, took the biography prize for Toast while Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie, won the television and film book of the year award with How Clean is Your House?

Simon Jenkins' book on England's Thousand Best Houses , was the illustrated book winner, and Simon Sebag-Montefiore's volume on Stalin was named the history book of the year.

Forgotten Voices of the Great War , told through first-hand testament, took the audiobook prize.

Sir David Attenborough received a lifetime achievement award which, like the others, was chosen by a panel of 2,000 publishers, booksellers and agents organised by Publishing News magazine.

The exception was a best read prize presented by Channel 4's Richard and Judy Show , which has stunned publishers by securing huge sales with its book club. More than 30,000 viewers' voted for Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones . The ceremony will be shown on a Richard and Judy special tomorrow.