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59. How to Start a Book Club

Ready to start your own book club? This special episode tells 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 in Paris, the Jilly Cooper book club, London’s Horror Book Club and the Walking Book Club of Hampstead Heath.

We’ve even come up with the top 10 recommended book club books guaranteed to get the discussing going. So, listen in for everything you need to know to start and run a flourishing book group.

Book recommendations

  1. Educated by Tara Westover
  2. Putney by Sofka Zinovieff
  3. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
  4. Supper Club by Lara Williams
  5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  6. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  7. East West Street by Philippe Sands
  8. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  9. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  10. This is London by Ben Judah

Notes

Want to hear more about the book clubs we mention on the show?

In episode 76 we talked to Emily about her Walking Book Club (this interview originally appeared as part of episode 5 on The Trouble with Goats and Sheep)

Simon Thomas appeared on episode 39 to tell us about his Book of the Year Club.

Andy Russell introduced us to the joys of his Horror Book Club on episode 33.5.

Elenore Pratoussy told us about the Lesbian Book Club in episode 25.

Toby Brothers of the London Literary Salon inspired us about tackling the Great Works of Literature in episode xx.

Ink@84’s website has details of their book club, which is currently happening via zoom.

How to find the right book club books?

Here are some of our recommended places to look:

Summer reading guides come out in June and best of the year lists in December. Particularly good ones are to be found in The Times and Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Observer and The Financial Times, The Washington Post and the New York Times.

Book prizes are such a great way of finding good reads. Lots to choose from. We always keep an eye on The Booker Prize, and Booker International, The Women’s Prize, The Wainwright Prize (for nature writing), The Costa Book Awards, The Goldsmiths Prize (for books that open up new possibilities in the novel form), The Baillie Gifford Prize (for non-fiction), The Walter Scott Prize (for historical-fiction) and the Folio Prize.

In addition in the US we love the The National Book Award, the Pulitzer, Barack Obama’s annual reading lists, and in Australia they have the Miles Franklin and the Stella Prize.

You can download a free e-book of Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists going from present day back to 1917. It makes for fascinating reading.

But Kate’s favourite prize of them all is the Dublin Literary Award (where the nominations come from libraries around the world).

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59 mins