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75. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

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What if Hillary hadn’t married Bill? That’s the attention-grabbing hook of Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest novel, Rodham, which duly sent it soaring into the bestseller charts. In real life, Bill Clinton asked Hillary Rodham to marry him three times before she finally said yes. The rest is history. But in Sittenfeld’s alternative world, Hillary says no, and their […]

One of the most talked-about books of summer 2020, Curtis Sittenfeld's speculative take on Hillary Rodham Clinton's story gets the full book club treatment. But did it live up to the hype? Expect lively discussion and some steamy scenes.

74. Summer Reading

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Whether you made it to a beach this year or staycationed at home we’ve got the perfect selection of options for your summer reading. Fiction, non-fiction, highbrow, lowbrow, we’ve got it all covered. Plus we asked a few friends of the show to join in, so expect recommendations from Emily Rhodes of Emily’s Walking Book […]

Summer reading for us is all about finding the perfect book to suit your mood. So listen in as we bring you a pile of handpicked book recommendations from us and a few podcast friends.

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73. Bookshelf: Beyond Book Club

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It’s an eclectic mix in this episode as we work through what has been on our bookshelves recently, but we loved all of these reads. Listen in to find out why.BOOK RECOMMENDATIONSIn The Dream House by Carmen Maria MachadoUncanny Valley by Anna WienerMorning by Allan JenkinsWest with the Night by Beryl MarkhamA Drop of Patience by William Melvin KelleyThe Mirror […]

The books that have seen us through lockdown, from up-to-the moment read In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado to forgotten classic William Melvin Kelley's A Drop of Patience.

72. That Glimpse of Truth: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Written

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Since the Covid Crisis went global, Laura’s book club has been working their way through That Glimpse of Truth: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Written selected by the late literary agent David Miller. One short story, once a week, with a Zoom chat every Monday to discuss it. But what did Laura’s book club make […]

The short story. Sad sister to the novel? Or pinnacle of the literary form? Laura's book club delves into David Miller's compendium and discovers that even brief reading experiences can have a powerful effect on us.

71. The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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Sometimes the best thing about book club is that it prompts us to read things that we might otherwise turn away from. There are parts of the world that are in crisis, and it can be hard to know how to help. One thing we can do is to bear witness to the stories of […]

Sometimes we want books to take us out of our comfort zone. But that doesn't always make for easy reading. Listen in to decide if you should add this one to your reading pile.

70. The BritLit Podcast

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Lockdown kept us indoors, but in some ways it opened our horizons. With a little help from technology we crossed the Atlantic to catch up with Claire Handscombe, presenter and producer of BritLit, a fortnightly podcast that tracks what’s going on in the British publishing world. From Claire’s novel Unscripted to her favourite recent reads, […]

Claire Handscombe tells us about her mission to bring the best British books to America, plus what makes for the perfect beach read.

69. Where the Crawdads Sing

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A word-of-mouth sleeper hit, Where The Crawdads Sing stunned the publishing world when sales took off and the book shot onto bestseller lists. It was all the more surprising as the author was a 70-year-old scientist new to writing fiction. Barkley Cove is a quiet town surrounded by marshland on the coast of North Carolina. When a […]

One of our liveliest discussions yet. Beautiful writing, a suspenseful plot and an unforgettable heroine... Or poorly written, paper-thin characterisation and an ending you see coming a mile off. Which camp will you fall into?

68. Bookshelf: Beyond Book Club

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We love our book clubs, but our Bookshelf shows are all about the books we get to choose for ourselves. From comfort reads to intellectual challenges, we run through our recent picks. In this show we have a particularly eclectic mix, incorporating everything from hot new releases to out-of-print childhood favourites. Just what it is […]

When the world shuts down, what books do we reach for? We share the books getting us through lockdown, including 2020 buzz books Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell and Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid.

67. London Archives Book Club

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The London Metropolitan Archives collects, preserves, celebrates and shares the stories of London and Londoners. They also have a book group, open to all, that meets monthly to explore a range of London writing, fiction or non-fiction, for all periods in London history. Not only do participants get to discuss the book, they also get […]

Where history and literature combine, the London Metropolitan Archives book club tackles everything from Ben Judah's controversial This Is London to the surprisingly racy 18th-century journal of James Boswell. Archivists Charlie and Claire tell us more.

66. Lanny by Max Porter

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Part novel, part poem, Lanny evokes a typical English village whose residents are observed by an ancient spirit of nature – who in turn is taking a particular interest in one child. The Guardian called it ‘a fable, a collage, a dramatic chorus, a joyously stirred cauldron of words’, but what did Kate’s book club make of […]

With his debut Grief is the Thing With Feathers, Max Porter made a unique mark on the literary landscape. But did his second novel, Lanny, capture our hearts in the same way? We put it to the book club test.

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65. Bookshelf: Beyond Book Club

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Bookshelf is our regular show where we talk about books read in-between our book club books, the ones that we get to pick and choose. In this episode we begin in London with period drama Belgravia by Julian Fellowes, and urban fantasy Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. We escape to France, and sunny Provence with unreconstructed male-wish-fulfilment […]

What are the books getting us through lockdown? We may not be able to travel, but the books we're reading this month are certainly taking us places. Listen in as we run through our latest Bookshelf.

64. Crib Notes

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The early days of motherhood might not seem an obvious moment to expand your reading horizons, but for Elizabeth Morris the combination of night-time wake-ups and heightened emotional sensitivity led her to a new appreciation of the printed word. After the birth of her son she decided to build on her career in the book […]

When all you have are stolen moments, you want to be sure you're spending them with the right book. Enter Elizabeth Morris, creator of brilliant books newsletter Crib Notes. Listen in to hear her recommendations for new and busy mothers – and meet guest star baby Rose.

63. Stories of Your Life and Others

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Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang clocked in at number 80 on The Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Books of the 21st Century. And Barack Obama’s a fan too. But what about Laura’s book club? What did they make of this collection of eight sci-fi short stories, one of which formed the basis for […]

Sci-fi sceptics, this is the book for you. Chiang's sharply intelligent speculative stories are in a league of their own. Yes, you'll need to switch your brain into high gear but trust us, it's more than worth it.

62. Bookshelf: Beyond Book Club

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It’s another Bookshelf episode where we discuss the books we’re each reading beyond book club – the ones we get to pick and choose! We discover the world of Tana French, and her literary psychological thrillers, laugh and cry with John Boyne’s Heart’s Invisible Furies, are underwhelmed by Philip Pullman’s Secret Commonwealth, venture into frozen […]

Our round up of our latest reads beyond book club sees us dip into the latest Philip Pullman and some dark Norwegian fiction from Hanne Østavik, plus books to make you smile, from John Boyne's Heart's Invisible Furies to comfort-read classic Cold Comfort Farm.

61. Fleishman is in Trouble

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Fleishman is in Trouble tells the story of Toby, a successful NYC doctor whose almost ex-wife Rachel has vanished, leaving him alone with their two children. But is she the selfish, self-absorbed, neglectful mother he portrays? Finally free from his nightmare marriage, Toby Fleishman is ready for a life of online dating and weekend-only parental […]

A Trojan Horse of a novel, this provocative portrait of a marriage on the brink was the Summer Read of 2019. But does it live up the hype? Listen in to hear what Laura's book club made of the trials of anti-hero Toby Fleishman and his elusive wife, Rachel.

60. Top 10 Book Club Books

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Many things make for a good book club. The right group of people, the right food, the right drinks… But in our view, the biggest guarantor of success is to choose the right books. We’ve given it some thought, so here are our top 10 books we think make for perfect book club reads. They […]

Wondering what book to read next for book club? Here's our selection of the top ten best book club books out there, all guaranteed to deliver vivid reading experiences and lively debate.

59. How to Start a Book Club

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Ready to start your own book club? We’ve pulled together a special episode to tell you how, from who to invite and what books (or genre) to read, to the pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. It’s packed full of inspiration and advice from book clubs we’ve interviewed over the years, including the Proust Book Group […]

A show packed full of inspiration and advice to help you start your very own book club, everything from choosing your venue to selecting the perfect book. From successful strategies to pitfalls to avoid, we've thought of everything in our ultimate guide.

58. Bookshelf: Beyond Book Club

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What do we read when we’re not reading book club books? This episode it’s non-fiction. Kate gets her head around Helen Hanff’s eccentric relationship with the secondhand bookselling world in 84 Charing Cross Road, is seduced by the gloss and glamour of the art world with Sarah Thornton and inspired by Michelle Obama’s powerful memoir […]

We hit the non-fiction this episode, with beloved classic of the secondhand book world 84 Charing Cross Road to Marianne Power’s adventures in the world of self help. We also venture into the contemporary art world, find out what it's like to become First Lady and enjoy Trevor Noah’s unputdownable memoir, Born A Crime.

57. The Silence of the Girls

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Pat Barker’s retelling of Homer’s Iliad from a female perspective proves a surprisingly marmite read. The Silence of the Girls was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and received widespread critical praise but what did Kate’s book club think? Our narrator is Briseis, a Trojan queen who witnesses the destruction of her city at the hands of […]

Despite its many accolades, this feminist retelling of The Iliad proves a surprisingly marmite read. Are Kate's book club just being contrary?

56. Bee’s Bookshare

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We discover a book club for people who don’t like the idea of all having to read the same book. At Bee’s Bookshare everyone brings a book they’ve loved, loathed, can’t put down or can’t get into and shares them – best of all everyone gets to take away a new read at the end. We […]

In Margate, by the sea, Bee runs a book club with a difference, everyone reads a different book, brings it along to discuss, and then takes a new book home at the end.