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Kate and Laura on the books that get you talking. Every episode we sit down to chat about the books read most recently by our book clubs. What did we make of them? Did they spark debate? And whether we loved them or loathed them, we always try to answer the big question: were they great book club books?
 
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It's our latest Book Club episode, and we're discussing Rachel Cusk's latest novel, Second Place. It was longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize, but didn’t make the cut for the shortlist. Sally Rooney calls it ‘masterful’, saying it ‘achieves a kind of formal perfection’ while the Observer newspaper lauds it as ‘A landmark in twenty-first-century Eng…
 
We've shaken the sand from our flip-flops and put our suitcases away. Now it's back to business as Kate and Laura catch up on their recent reads, everything from this year's Booker International Prize winner to a fantasy romp about teenage wizards. Booklist Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong At Night All…
 
"Ashto" and "Jonesy" are two Australians who devour books on everything from self-improvement to business and marketing for their weekly podcast, What You Will Learn. They’ve recently launched their own book, The Sh*t They Never Taught You. They joined Kate to discuss what books have taught them, and provide her with some personal bibliotherapy to …
 
It's our 2021 Summer Reading episode! What are we looking for in our summer reading? We want books that are going to carry us away, books that are immersive and compelling, books that take us places and teach us things. Sometimes we want short reads to suit our mood, others we want long immersive books that will last us through the summer. And as e…
 
Looking for something a little off the beaten path for your reading pile? Join us as we discuss Like A Sword Wound by renowned Turkish writer Ahmet Altan. It's the first volume in a quartet and traces not only the social currents of the final years of the Ottoman Empire but also the erotic and emotional lives of its characters. Like A Sword Wound h…
 
In celebration of our 100th episode we turn the spotlight on ourselves a little more than usual to answer listeners' questions. From our favourite childhood reads to the books that shaped us as adults, from books which kept us up all night to books we disagree on (with a shocking mid-show revelation from Laura that threatens to derail the whole dis…
 
It’s here. After weeks of reading, tons of post-it notes and a WhatsApp group busy with thoughts flying back and forth we proudly present our 2021 Women’s Prize episode. We’re joined by returning podcast guests Elizabeth Morris and Sarah Oliver to review all six shortlisted titles. This is book club so expect the full range of opinions, find out wh…
 
A magazine that has always been dear to our hearts is Penguin's Happy Reader, an occasional publication that takes inspiration from the idea of a book club. In the early days of the podcast we were delighted to interview its editor Seb Emina. To celebrate the launch of The Happy Reader's latest edition we're releasing that interview again. From the…
 
Join us as we discuss The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's a modern classic, 1989 Booker Prize winner and the author is also the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature but none of this led Laura to hold back, calling it 'dull' and incredibly slow reading. But, of course, hers is not the only voice, so listen in to find out what Kate tho…
 
We chat with Chrissy Ryan, founder of Bookbar, a new bookshop and bar in Kate's North London neighbourhood. Chrissy's vision is for Bookbar to be a social space where people can discover their next read and meet other readers in a place where conversation is encouraged. We loved hearing about everything from her in-house book club featuring authors…
 
Listen in for Laura’s take on Matt Haig's bestselling The Midnight Library, which Kate hasn’t yet read. Should she? Meanwhile Kate gets swept into literary Paris with Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir. Laura takes us to Iceland with an immersive novel that she now wants everyone to drop everything and read, and we catch up with Deborah Levy wit…
 
Join us as we tackle this unusual book that mixes prose with poetry and a play script, in which Death is embodied in the form of an old black woman. Mrs Death befriends a young writer, Wolf, who agrees to ghost-write her memoirs. Laura and her book club had strong reactions against this book. It’s up to Kate and our special guest author Gary Wiggle…
 
Join us for this 'bookshelf' episode as we discuss the books we've been reading outside of book club. In this episode Kate gets tied up in existential knots over House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas and we consider the parallels between this 800-page fantasy bonkbuster and War and Peace. We explore the idea of ‘reading offsetting’ whereby we b…
 
Bibliotherapist and author (with Susan Elderkin) of classic books about books The Novel Cure and The Story Cure, Ella Berthoud's most recent work is The Art of Mindful Reading, a practical guide that promises to help people to read more mindfully, bringing their lives to books and books into their lives equally. As you might expect we have a lot of…
 
Join us as we discuss the 2020 Costa Book of the Year, The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. ‘A fishy tale of doomed womanhood’, even Margaret Atwood got excited about it, tweeting ‘Not your standard mermaid. No comb and glass, no Lorelei hair. No catch and release…’ This unusual novel weaves together sex, misogny and race with love, music,…
 
What is a reader's dream cookbook? One that has delicious recipes but also a wealth of literary references to inspire your next read? It turns out these books exist! With her Little Library series of cookbooks Kate Young has carved out a particular niche intertwining her love of food with the books that have inspired her and shaped her life. And so…
 
On the one hand 'bleak, meandering and depressing' on the other a beautifully written book that has touched the hearts of its readers – but what did Kate's book club make of Douglas Stuart's 2020 Booker winner Shuggie Bain? We're joined by friend and journalist Phil Chaffee to discuss it. Has Laura managed to make it through more than the first six…
 
Catch up on what we've been reading outside of book club, the books we choose for ourselves. If you're looking for lockdown recommendations we've got a couple of brilliant suggestions here we think you'll love, plus one book we can save you the time of having to read. We also talk upcoming reads and our newly launched Bookshop on Bookshop.org.uk Bo…
 
We’re welcoming in a new year of reading with not one but two books, Writers & Lovers by Lily King, and Early Work by Andrew Martin. Two aspiring writers, two messy love lives, two very different books that each take the craft of writing as their main theme, one from the female perspective and one from the male. How did they compare? What did Laura…
 
A book sent from friend to friend around the world, with a notebook full of comments. Have we found the perfect Covid lockdown bookclub? We're joined by podcaster and books blogger Simon Thomas who explains how it works. We also get some wonderful book recommendations from authors you may not have read or even heard of, and catch up about his Book …
 
It's our biggest recommendations show yet, with over 50 books loved by us, our book clubs, and our three special guests. But what were our most loved reads of 2020? Listen in for our top threes and our absolute favourites. There were some obvious contenders such as Maggie O'Farrell's Hamlet and Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain, but we've tried to stee…
 
Feeling quizzical? Missing your favourite festive pub quiz? Compete along with us as Gary Wigglesworth, author of 'The Book Lover’s Quiz Book', puts us through our literary paces in another seasonal special. Will you beat us? For detailed show notes and links to all the podcasts we’ve mentioned today, visit our website thebookclubreview.co.uk. In t…
 
We look back over the ten books we read for bookclub in 2020. From Taffy Brodesser-Akner's snappy take on contemporary relationships with Fleishman is in Trouble, to The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa's carefully considered look at memory and the objects that bring meaning to our lives, we read and discussed a wide range of books that we're delighted to…
 
What's it like to set up your own publishing business? What does it take to succeed? And how do you find the right books? We talk to Kate Macdonald of Handheld Press, who gives us some behind-the-scenes insights into running a small, independent publishers, and her mission to seek out forgotten fiction and authors who need to be rediscovered. Busin…
 
We discuss The Memory Police, a haunting dystopian novel that explores questions of power, trauma and state surveillance written by Yoko Ogawa, one of Japan's leading contemporary novelists. Set on an unnamed island, the narrator of The Memory Police describes how every so often something in the inhabitants' lives will disappear. Birds, roses, book…
 
Wondering which of the Booker shortlisted novels to read? Look no further, we've got the rundown of all of them in our Booker Prize special. We're joined by previous podcast guests Phil Chaffee and Sarah Oliver to discuss the six titles. Due to Covid we weren't able to be in the same room, but that didn't hold us back. It's book club, so whether we…
 
The perfect solution when your book club wants to read a classic, but no-one quite has the energy for the 19th-century greats, Bonjour Tristesse clocks in at just over 100 pages and was written by Françoise Sagan when she was only a teenager. It became an instant bestseller in France, and subsequently around the world, and has remained a hugely pop…
 
Our bookshelf episodes are the ones where we get to let our hair down and talk about the things we're reading outside of our book clubs, the books that we get to pick and choose. So listen in as Kate is bewitched by the new Susanna Clarke novel Piranesi, charmed by Shirley Jackson's memoir of raising her children in Life Among the Savages, and has …
 
Identical twin sisters Stella and Desiree Vignes grow up together in a small, southern black community where the inhabitants have noteably light skin. When they run away at the age sixteen they make very different choices. One will marry and then return to her hometown, the other will live her life passing for white, knowing she can never go back. …
 
More than ever as we gradually emerge from lockdown we find ourselves appreciating the natural world and the joys of walking. The perfect time then to revisit our interview with Emily’s Walking Book Club to hear about the inherent pleasures of walking and talking about books. And picking up on the theme we have some handpicked recommendations for y…
 
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 lives diverge from there. Hillary is alone and heartbroken, but she’s also free to pursue her own political ambitions – and free from the humiliating sexual scan…
 
'Beach read', 'holiday read', 'summer read'. This year there’s another term in the mix: the ‘stay-cation read’. But whatever you call it, for us summer reading is all about choice. Reading what you want. Not reading what you should. So, what do YOU feel like reading? Well, we’re here to help you decide. Speed read. Comforting classic. Wish fulfillm…
 
It’s a summer sizzler of a Bookshelf with rave reviews from both Laura and Kate for their eclectic books of choice. For Kate, it’s all about hot contemporary reads, including Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House, an eye-opening memoir about an abusive lesbian relationship. Whereas Laura’s enchanted by the African adventures of 1930s aviatrix B…
 
The short story. Sad sister to the novel? Or pinnacle of the literary form? In this episode, Laura sets out to persuade Kate, self-professed short story sceptic, she’s got it all wrong. 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 selecte…
 
In honour of National Reading Group Day and World Refugee Day, we discuss The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the bestselling novel by Christy Lefteri. It’s a heartrending and important novel. The story of Nuri and Afra, a devastated couple forced to flee their home in Aleppo in the hopes of reaching safety in the UK. Harrowing and haunting, it’s a must read.…
 
We cross 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. We talk about Claire's novel Unscripted, which she highly recommends as a beach read, whether you're able to go to an actual beach or just have to make do with a deckchair in…
 
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is a publishing phenomenon: a debut novel that has sold more print copies in 2019 than any other adult title, fiction or non-fiction. Appropriately, given our current Corona lockdown situation, it’s a book about a girl who lives isolated in the wilderness, wrestling with loneliness. The plot draws together rom…
 
We love our book clubs, but what do we read when we get to choose for ourselves? In this episode we have an eclectic mix, encompassing everything from hot new releases to out-of-print old childhood favourites, with some musing on just what it is we’re looking for in a good Lockdown read. • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan…
 
The London Metropolitan Archives was established to collect, preserve, celebrate and share the stories of London and Londoners. They also have a book club. We sit down with Claire Titley and Charlie Turpie to learn more about it in an episode chock-full of great reading suggestions. If you’re interested in joining the London Metropolitan Archives b…
 
Part novel, part poem, Lanny evokes a typical English village whose residents are observed by an ancient spirit of nature – with 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 it? We discuss, and share some recommendat…
 
Comfort reads to curl up with? Or books that provoke, stimulate and challenge? In this episode, we share our latest lockdown reads. We stay close to home with period drama Belgravia by Julian Fellowes, and London-based fantasy Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. We escape to Provence with unreconstructed male-wish-fulfillment novel Hotel Pastis by Peter May…
 
For many parents home-schooling their children over the coming weeks, the idea of reading in snatches of borrowed time will strike a strong chord. After the birth of her son, Elizabeth Morris decided to put her career in the book world to good use and set up Crib Notes, a book club in newsletter form. Every month, she curates the perfect book recom…
 
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. Barack Obama's a fan too. But what about Laura's book club? What did they make of this mesmerising collection of eight stories, one of which formed the basis of the film Arrival starring Amy Adams? Real-life rocket…
 
Laura reports in on The Wych Elm by Tana French, The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne and The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. Kate's stack consists of Love by Hanne Ostavik, The Anna Karenina Effect by Viv Groskop and Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Join us as we review them and figure out if there are any book club gems in there.…
 
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? It’s been described as a Trojan Horse of a novel, a sharp, dry portrait of the blind spots that come with male privilege a…
 
Reading the right books is key to making your book club a success. But how to choose? Listen in to hear the top 10 books we think make for perfect book club reads. They vary from fiction to non-fiction, and cut across every genre and subject. But they're all highly readable, packed full of ideas and will divide opinion – always good for a sparky de…
 
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, London's own Jilly Cooper book club, a Horror Book C…
 
In our stacks this episode: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Seven Days in the Artworld by Sarah Thornton, 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury by Helene Hanff and Help Me! by Marianne Power. Listen in to find out what we thought of them, and whether there are any gems in there for your next book club read.…
 
Pat Barker's retelling of the Iliad from the female perspective proves a surprisingly marmite read. It was shortlisted for the Women's Prize and received widespread critical praise but Kate's book club was less convinced. Listen in to find out whether we loved or loathed it, plus some recommendations for your next book club read. Laura's off for th…
 
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 met up with Bryony Bishop, founder of Bee’s Bookshare, to find out more. • Books men…
 
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