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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.

55. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

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We delve into the whirlwind story of Elizabeth Holmes and her biotech company Theranos. At its height it was valued at 9 billion dollars. At its heart was a product that didn’t work. In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup […]

An astonishing web of fraud, charisma and intimidation, with the startlingly duplicitous Elizabeth Holmes at its heart. Investigative journalist John Carreyrou digs deep to unravel this story of Theranos, a bio-tech company built on lies.

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54. Bookshelf: Beyond Book Club

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We love our Bookshelf shows as we get to discuss the books we’re reading outside of book club, the ones we get to choose for ourselves. This episode Laura is swept away by Esi Edugyan’s pacey novel Washington Black, beguiled by Venetian fantasy The Lies of Locke Lamora and laughs and cries with Candice Carty-Williams’ […]

Laura can’t wait to rave about her non-book club books this week, from Candice Carty-Williams’ groundbreaking Queenie to the fantasy realms of Locke Lamora, with Washington Black by Esi Eduygan thrown in. While Kate reports in on bittersweet comedy The Friend, revels in a year spent in a clifftop house by the sea thanks to Juliet Blaxland's Easternmost House, and is blown away by Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys.

53. The Family Book Club

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If you’d like to start a book club but are wondering who to invite, how about staying close to home? Annie and Dave tell us about their successful family book club, which has kept their family engaging with books and debating their merits for seven years now. They share their tips for making it work […]

Looking to take your next family get-together to another level? Just add books. Annie and Dave tell us how to do it – and how to stay civil when the debate heats up.

52. Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

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A sweeping and evocative portrait of an Egyptian family at a time of great social change, from Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz. The novel follows one family over the course of the years 1917–19, a time of great change in Egypt that culminated in the overthrow of the British Protectorate. We meet al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd […]

Egypt’s answer to Tolstoy, Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for his intricate portrait of an Egyptian family at a time of great social change. But could Laura’s book club cope with all the misogyny?

51. Barnabees Secondhand Bookshop

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Our latest interview is with Tyona Campbell, owner of Barnabees, a very special secondhand bookshop tucked away in the small Suffolk village of Westleton. Tyona tells us how her shop is in a small way a protest against the data-gathering online giants, why in her shop the books they find you, and why books benefit […]

In the best bookshops, you don’t find the books, they find you. Or so insists Tyona, proud owner of what she wryly calls 'the second best secondhand bookshop in Westleton, Suffolk'.

50. My Sister, the Serial Killer

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My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s superbly titled debut novel, has been one of the literary sensations of 2019 – nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and long listed for the Booker. But what did both our book clubs make of it? Does it merit all the acclaim? Listen in to find out. Heads up: this […]

A dynamite title, but does this award-winning bestseller live up to the hype? Laura's book club aren't convinced.