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The Book Club Review

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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?

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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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?




88. Bookshelf: Spring reads

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 Booklist: Intimations by Zadie Smith A Start in Life by Anita Brookner Trio by William Boyd Memorial by Bryan Washington The Moth and the...


87. Writers and Lovers and Early Work

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’s book club make of them? Should they be on your TBR? Listen in to find out. Plus a maximalist recommendations session at the end partly because...


86. The Postal Book Club

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 of the Year club (in which all the books read come from a single year). Books mentioned in this episode: Once a Week by A. A. Milne, A House and...


85: 2020 Books of the Year Review

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 steer clear of the main current to pick out some slightly more eclectic choices that we think will delight you as much as us. We also hear from...


84. Books Quiz special episode

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 In the UK and Australia, you can order a copy of The Book Lover’s Quiz Book online from your favourite local bookshop, or on And it’s...


83. Book Club Book of the Year 2020

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 go back and revisit – like seeing old friends. But which will be our book club book of the year? On the shortlist: Fleishman is in Trouble by...


82. Close-up: Handheld Press

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. Business as Usual by Jane Oliver and Anne Stafford Save Me The Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald The Exile Waiting by Vonda N. McIntyre Women's Weird,...


81. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

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, books, one by one these things vanish overnight and the next day people wake up to find they have lost the memory of them. The Memory Police then...


80. The Booker Prize 2020

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 loved them or loathed them, you'll get to hear what we really thought. Plus we play a game of 'Snog, Marry, Avoid' with Booker books, and offer...


79. Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

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 popular read ever since. What did Kate's book club make of it? Did they find it fabulous or frivolous? Listen in to find out. We also have some book...


78. Bookshelf: Autumn reads

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 a guilty confession to make about To Calais in Ordinary Time by James Meek. In Laura's stack are supernatural thriller Himself by Jess Kidd,...


77. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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. What will happen, though, when the next generation of their families connects? Race, identity, family, love, belonging, all thoughtfully woven...


76. Emily's Walking Book Club

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 you, perfect for topping up your TBR pile. From past-podcast favourites such as Peter Matthiessen’s Snow Leopard to new release The Well Gardened...


75. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

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 scandals that will plague Bill’s political career. Sittenfeld deftly mines the ‘What if?” possibilities of her premise, but does the novel live up to...


74. Summer Reading: Find your perfect 'beach read'

'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 fulfillment romance. Genre-bending Whodunnit. Rollicking historical epic. Forgotten 1930s gem. We’ve got you covered. Listen in to find your perfect...


73. Bookshelf: What we're reading outside of book club

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 Beryl Markham, and dazzled by William Melvin Kelley’s portrait of a black musician in Jazz Age America. Listen in to hear what we made of… In The...


72. 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Written

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 selected by the late literary agent David Miller. One short story, once a week, with a Zoom chat every Monday to discuss it. Listen in to hear the...


71. The Beekeeper of Aleppo

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. But did it make for a good discussion book? Is there any hope amid the heartbreak? Listen in to find out. We sat down to discuss it with...


70. The BritLit Podcast

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 your garden. Claire also gives us a shelf's worth of great book recommendations, plus some top tips for anyone thinking of making a books...


69. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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 romance, crime and a courtroom drama building to a suspenseful conclusion. A page-turner, then, but what did Kate's book club make of it? Listen in...