Hello, and welcome to the Book Club Review. I'm Kate.
I'm Laura. And this is the podcast about book clubs and the books that get people talking.
Another year goes by, snow has fallen here in London, and tis the time to be considering our books of the year.
But what makes a book of the year? Does it need to be something that was published in 2022? Or can it just be a book we read in the past year and loved? Or should it be our favourite book for book club debate, or the book that surprised us the most? The book we gifted to a friend or the book that left us with the biggest book hangover, not wanting to read anything else for a while?
Well, listeners, we think this show should contain all of those things, and more. And so we've come up with some handy categories to help us sort through our book stacks. We might even mention a few books we read that we wished we hadn't, or some that didn't live up to our expectations. Plus some books we meant to read, but didn't the ones that got away.
This is also the time of year to be gathering friends. And so we've gathered friend of the pod and much loved regular guest Phil Chaffee to add his favourite books into the mix.
And so, without further ado, let's get into all of that here on the Book Club Review.
Hi, Phil, Hi, Laura, lovely to have you both here. Phil in person Laura via the magic of the internet. Phil do you like what I've done with the shed?
I love the shed. The shed is very Christmassy right now. There is some hot mulled wine. There's a Christmas tree. It's very neat. A lot neater than it's been times past.
You wouldn't know that we're in the process of selling our house was shortly to be moving and we won't have the shed anymore. But as a result, my house has never been so tidy. Phil, we've had all this snow I remember you telling me that you like to go on these early morning walks and you'll listen to your audio books. Have you been out there doing that in the snow?
I have today. I've walked all over London actually in special boots, which is why when I came in I did a Mr. Rogers switching of boots to shoes. But no, it's been glorious London is almost never like this. It's been absolutely beautiful, particularly in the parks where the snow still is.
All right, we've got so much to get through. So to business. Let's start with books published in 2022. itself, I realised looking back, it's actually relatively rare for me to read something super hot off the presses. How about you guys? Laura, should we start with you? What's the book published this past year that you really love?
Well, like you I don't rush out to read the latest books, typically. But because we're often reading books aligned with a prize that sometimes hooks me into a book that's just been published, I should say that I had a runner up for this category. And then I realised it was published in 2021. So didn't really qualify. That was no touching by Keti roof translated from the French longtime listeners will know that I love that book, which is about a philosophy high school teacher who turns to stripping in the evening. That's all I'll say about that one didn't qualify. The new release that really won me over was trust by Hernandez. This book is a grower. I really enjoyed reading it at the time, which we did for the Booker Prize episode. And I could read it again. It's a jewel box of a novel in that it takes place in four part and each part sheds additional light on these two characters, Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a Wall Street tycoon. She is the daughter of a kind of high society parents and they marry and then we track the relationship from there in the first segment. But then there are three more segments that shed light on what you have read at the beginning. This is a really ambitious novel. It's quite cerebral. I know I lent it to my dad and he didn't like it. He didn't stop reading it. But I loved this book. I loved the financial element. I loved the examination of what capital means. And I love the mystery and having to kind of unpick what was happening and figure it out.
Trust by Hernandez was on my list for books that I meant to get to this year but didn't and the reason was because it was long listed for the Booker. And I was so sure it was going to be shortlisted. I wasn't sure I wasn't shortlisted. Do you remember? And I was sort of annoyed because I wouldn't read it. But I didn't because I didn't actually pick it out from the long list, assuming I was going to be reading it when it was shortlisted. And then it wasn't in kind of a shock, wasn't it? Lots of people were surprised that that book didn't make the shortlist. How about you feel? What's a new release that you've loved?
Thank you guys. I haven't read tonnes of them to runners up that I loved one which Laurie did not love was mega Farrells the marriage portrait which I thought was brilliant and also Monica Allah Is Love marriage, which was just so fun to sort of luxury and these families popping around London, but those are runners up. My favourite was The Secret Lives of church ladies by de Shafilea, which technically was published in the UK this year, this spring. It was published in the US a couple of years ago when it was shortlisted for the National Book Award. This is this book of short stories all about women, largely women in the black African American church, largely in the south, not always. And there's a lot of stories about mothers and daughters and daughters and grandmothers. There's a lot of weird stuff in this. Her writing is amazing. It's just so colourful, so many of these stories I haven't been able to get out of my mind. And it's a page turner it's short, she's just this amazing writer. I don't think she's written a novel yet. It was an absolute delight that back
over to UK What was your favourite?
Various aptitudes? honourable mentions to me include housebreaking by Colleen Hubbard debut novel that I really enjoyed relished. In fact, it was great. And also Nell Stevens, Herbert briefly a life about George Sand and showpo. It's fiction, but it's very much based on like a sliver of their real life biographies. And that was great. But the one for me, I feel like Book of the Year kind of needs to have a little bit of something extra, doesn't it? And for me, that book was a book called Seven steeples by Sarah, boom, this is connected with you, Phil, I hate you remember, you invited me to a literary event, someone was giving a talk. And it was being held somewhere.
It was her idea. It's for trust,
so I can remember. Yeah. And I came up by train from Oxford because I was staying with my husband's family. We were out there and so I came up came to London, and to meet you and I'm excited looking forward to it and there's gonna be so much fun and I stood outside and people were going in God knows for what event because it turns out it was not the event that I thought you know, we were going to see something else was happening that night in filled in comedy didn't come even come on. I kept thinking this is so he's normally so punctual. Like, I feel like he would be here by now. And so eventually I texted you and you were like up, Kate, that's tomorrow. I've never heard because I just shit honestly the amount of trouble I had gone to get that. And so disconsolately, I took myself back to the station, and I began quite long journey back to Henley on Thames, actually where I was staying. But when I was an Oxford, I had been to the bookshop Blackwell's, and I had picked up this book very oddly, I really love the cover, it's got this beautiful patchwork quilt on it. I didn't know anything about it, I just seemed like, I don't know why it was just that cover. And I thought, Oh, I'll try this. And on the way back home, I sat on the train, and I owned and I start to read it, and I absolutely loved it. It's a very simple premise. These two people who seem to be a couple decide that they don't really want to live conventionally. And so they pack up all their possessions, everything that they can fit into a van, and they go off to live in this very isolated cottage, on the coast of Ireland. And they're near the base of this mountain. And the rest of the book is just about their daily life there. And there was just something about the way it was written. It always felt to me like a book where I kept waiting for something to happen. And actually, what's wonderful about it is that nothing really does happen. Even the author acknowledges this, there's a kind of an ongoing joke about every year, they mean to climb the mountain. And actually, they don't get around to climbing the mountain. And the thing is, they don't really need to climb the mountain because they're having a really nice time just living in this cottage. And it's kind of about objects and their possessions and a way of living and casting aside feelings about the right way to live. And like, you know, your home has to be really beautiful. And I didn't care about any of that. And also, what I really enjoyed about it was they're really turning away from phones and electronic devices and just quietly not worrying about all of that that's not really relevant. They don't want to keep in touch with people. They just want to be there and they just want to live. And it's very evocative, very much sense of place. The whole thing just felt like a breath of fresh air and I absolutely loved it. And it was very unexpected. I loved the way I knew nothing about it, and it turned out to be such a delight.
Okay, I'm from the new to the old. It's time to share our favourite backless gems that we dove into over the past year. Something that is not on the front tables at the local bookshop. What have you discovered this year Phil?
Again, a bunch of backless gems, a red calm table and some Blackwater Lightship, which was amazing. And Stefan's vagues beware of pity, which was brutal and just astonishing, but my favourite was the Trove by Alessandra Mazzoni. It was written between 18 to And he's seven and 1842 is Italian novelist. The novel itself is set in the 17th century in Lombardy, under Spanish rule. And there's a lot that happens in it was this big classic of Italian literature. And I told one of my Italian friends Raffaele about it. He just went crazy. He was I was so excited that I was reading this. He said he had to read in school, Boccaccio on Petrarch, and he said that really boring but Manzoni is much more modern. at that school, they teach that Manzoni went to the Arno to wash the old Italian language and create the new one. This is the language is very vibrant. The plot is this preposterous opera plot of this young couple who's thwarted because this evil count propositions the girl and pursues her and tries to get rid of the guy preposterous plot, but then there's these series of set pieces, including when the plague comes, which are just glorious, and the writing is just really fresh and fun. It's a bit of a doorstop, but it's a page turner and I ploughed through and it was an absolute delight, but also I should say, this is the new translation by Michael F. Moore, and with a big afterword by Jhumpa Lahiri, who is a big Italian us to these days.
I think that's not the first time that that books been mentioned on this podcast when I interviewed Simon Sharma many a year ago now. I'm pretty sure he flagged that one up and he's like, no one knows about. No English people know Right right. Now we do know Phil Cade, what
about you? What backless gems Did you read this year?
My honourable mention is the homemaker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, which was published by Persephone, I just thought that was a really well written absorbing ahead of his time novel about kind of role reversal in the family. And almost like how lovely it can be when people maybe ignore the pigeonholes that society wants to put them in and you know, instead live in the way that is right. For them. It was a real surprise. But my favourite thing that really just swept me away when I read it, I loved it so much. The regular listeners will remember me in raving about it at the time. And that is the book Oh, Caledonia by Elspeth Barker else with waka died this year in May, she was 81. And quite a lot was written about her to commemorate her life. And lots of the obituaries were flagging up this book and people were saying lots of good things about it. And so I was just curious, I was intrigued to read it. I ordered a copy from the London library, which seems like the sort of place that you would get a book like that, and started to read and it is such a joy. It's narrated by a teenager, Janet, and at the beginning of the book, we learn in fact that she has died. And the novel then takes you back through her childhood, and then the moments leading up to her death. But because you already know the outcome, there's no tension about it. It's more that kind of curiosity about well, what happened, how do we get to this point, the real delight is Janet's inner voice and the way that she sort of sees through her quite dysfunctional family. She's sent off to boarding school and she hates it and parents that really understand her and you know, all of these things that are not really the way that childhood should be. But she's quite funny about it all as well and very detached. It's kind of like dark, I Capture the Castle, not only because Janet is living in a castle this where this family lives, but it does also have something of that sense of atmosphere and similar age of the protagonist. It's so deliciously clever, and funny and dark. I remember I just wanted to scream with delight when I read it. I loved it so much. Maggie O'Farrell writes the introduction as if you needed any other incentive to pick it up. Ali Smith called it a sparky funny work of genius about class romanticism, social tradition and literary tradition, and one of the best least known novels of the 20th century. So yeah, loved it. seek it out, if you haven't read it. How about yours? What was yours?
Well, it's interesting, because I actually really dove into the classics early on, in 2022. I discovered that at the Vancouver Public Library in the downtown branch, there's a whole section devoted to literature on the third floor, whereas fiction is on the ground floor. I think this is actually just to do with status. And maybe if you make it to literature, you're going to be kept there, whatever, regardless of how many people take you out. Whereas if your fiction, you know, books churn through libraries, I think based on whirling, so I discovered literature, I was like, Oh, that's weird that this is separate. And I picked up a couple of books. I picked up cake and Ale by Somerset mom and glimpses of the moon by Edith Wharton thinking, you know, this might satisfy an itch I have. I remember nothing about them. I enjoyed them could not tell you what they are about, but the life of me absolutely flummoxed. So almost by default, my favourite backless gem is the third classic I read this year, which is wives and daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. So good. It did is very good. And it was recommended to us by Elizabeth Morris of the crib notes newsletter who joins us on the podcast sometimes. I think it was her summer reading book. You know, we had a summer reading special episode. And it was one of the books I think that she flagged and I read it in the summer. I actually read it sitting next to my daughter as she tried to fall asleep in the dim light of the evenings and found it completely absorbing a real comfort reads. It's the story of Molly Gibson. She's the daughter of the village doctor. It starts off when she's a child's and there's just kind of a brief encounter where she's at the household of the Lord and Lady. And she then meets there, the woman who will become her stepmother. And then it flashes forward, Molly's now a young woman, very virtuous young woman. And it's really just her story of coming of age, her relationships with her stepmother when she marries her father, a stepsister that she acquires who's very glamorous, but seems to have a dark secret, and then falling in love, of course, with one of the young men, one of the sons of the local squire, nothing much happens and yet somehow these Victorian novelists they just keep you reading they knew something of you, they just lull you into this very relaxing state of mind. And I really, really loved it was super enjoying it was just ready for the magical moment. Kay, you know, you've waited like, what 600 Pages for an old come together for everyone to end up happy. And it ends because Elizabeth Gaskell died before she finished the novel. Did you remember this?
No, I didn't know that. Because I read it so long ago. And I also read it in the summer I forgot I remember it being a great beach read. But I remember feeling a bit let down by the ending, like we didn't go anywhere.
I didn't know. She died. And so my addition at least told me that but I had no idea that was going to be the case. Now. It's still my favourite backless gem of 2022. I would recommend it but and I should say that we really know what's going to happen that we know what the pay is going to be. It would have just been nice if it all was stitched up with above, like
that's gonna keep me from ever reading it, knowing that it just like I want that resolution when
it doesn't leave things. doesn't leave things unfinished. It's more it does just sort of peter out. And that seems strange to me at the time, because the rest of it is so good. Yeah. But yeah, I worry we've spoiled it now for people, but we can't help it she died.
It's not a spoiler that she's that.
All right, we've got to keep moving. So favourite nonfiction, it's stuck with me, shall we? This is the year I think I almost read as much nonfiction as fiction. In fact, I feel like I have a higher hit rate with nonfiction. More often, the books that I choose to read that are nonfiction tend to be amazing when it is, I guess, much fewer variables than with fiction. So in making my selection, I had to cast aside the full by John Preston his biography of the media Baron Robert Maxwell, but I read an absolutely loved I also have to overlook and I had to consider this carefully. But I've passed it aside, and that is 4000 weeks by Oliver Berkman, the sort of productivity guru who's now sort of seeing the light and realise that no matter how many productivity strategies you employ, you are never going to do even a tiny, tiny fraction of all the things that you want to do in your life. And so actually, it's better to throw up your hands and just say, okay, look, I've only got so much time left. In fact, there's hardly any of it, especially when you put it into weeks, and even that we don't know how much we're gonna get. And so in fact, if we think about what we do, informed by that notion, would that lead us to make better, more interesting choices is a really great read. I really loved reading it. But as Laura will remember, it did send me into a slightly depressed spiral of just worrying about what am I doing with my life. And I did also read the mushroom book by Merlin Sheldrake, which everyone says is so great. And I would like to confirm that that is great. But my nonfiction book of the year was a recent read, and that is the palace papers by Tina Brown. It's her book about the royal family. It's got a terrible cover that I just think hardly anyone will ever pick it up the cover so awful. And also, you're just like Arthur Royals, you know, I don't need to know anything about the Royals. Anyone who watched the crown you already know, a tonne about the Royals. Also, this has been a year of a lot of saturation of Real News. And I thought that to the only reason I was curious to read this is because when there was a lot of commentary on the royal family recently around Harry and Megan and then I guess when the Queen died, Tina Brown was popping up on the talk shows and she was just the only person who I thought had anything genuinely interesting to say she was the one when I heard her when my attention was really cool. Like Oh yeah, that is an interesting thought or an interesting angle on it. And so I was quite curious to read this and I was so happy I did because it is such a romp. I realised afterwards. She's so perfectly placed to write this book. She edited Tatler magazines as a society magazine here in the UK for years. And so she's intimately acquainted with the upper class, social section of society that is actually a really big thing here. It's a big important part of British life still that no one would acknowledge it this class system that we have. And so she understands that world, she then went to America where she edited Vanity Fair for years. And so she understands Hollywood, she understands celebrity, she understands the American media world. She was married to Harold Evans, who edited the Sunday Times for many, many years. And so she also understands the British newspaper industry, the media industry incredibly well. And you bring together that expertise in all of those different subjects and the fact that she is a really good writer, she writes brilliantly. And all of this fantastic information that she's synthesising and pulling together, each chapter is structured around a different royal family member. And although overall, there's a sort of sense of chronology, and you're coming through to Harry and Megan at the end, in fact, within each chapter, it goes back and forward in time. But by focusing on an individual, gradually, you start to get this composite picture of it all. And I was kind of really dazzled by the way that she managed to synthesise everything, and create a really interesting, compelling narrative about this family and about ourselves, you know, our own relationship to them and the way that they have been, certainly the British people, you know, a kind of ongoing presence throughout our lives. And how are things gonna pan out in the future? You know, there's a very interesting speculative a bit at the end about what she thinks might happen next. It's just a joy. It made me laugh out loud. I also was fascinated by it. And at one point, genuinely, I was almost moved to tears in a way that I was firmly dried Phil's thinking puzzle because he's read this book to find it. Well, I was surprised to like I wasn't expecting to be. There's just one chapter where she's talking about the queen. I found it very poignant. I really did in a way that when the Queen actually died, I didn't feel that way. So I just thought it was really really, really wonderful book. I was surprised by it. I was delighted by it for the week that I read it. I didn't want to read anything else. I didn't want to talk about anything else. I just loved it so much. I almost could have been potentially book of the book. Certainly my best nonfiction read.
Kate, there's a very important follow up question, Phil, this can go to you too. But have you guys watched the first three episodes of Harry and Megan? No,
no, not yet. Very upset about the trailer here.
I have I have an I am not a palace person. But I really want to talk about it with good viewing.
So according to Tina Brown, the royal family needed Harry and Megan, you know, the royal family need a sideshow. So that the main business of being royal, which is incredibly boring, and no one finds interesting at all, and was has this glitzy distractions that used to be Princess Margaret. That's the role that she fulfilled. Then great Harry, and Megan came along, everyone's attention was on them with them out of the picture. And now it all comes down to William and Catherine. And is that marriage going to survive? And also the thing that comes across as just you know, it is almost inhuman? what's expected of these people, the spotlight that they live in, and the actual mundanity of their lives. I think Prince Charles once said that there's not a moment in his year where he doesn't know in advance what's going to be happening. The whole thing is planned out. And just imagine that being your life imagine living like that they have so much privilege, but is it worth it? I don't know. Really, really interesting. Anyway. Enough, shot me up my hand in my own mouth. Next,
Laura? Well, I'm the opposite of UK. It's of course I am. I have barely read any nonfiction this year. Because I only read nonfiction if my book club makes. And Phil I've kind of been looking back at the list. I'm like, gosh, we really didn't read anything. Like I was a bit stumped. I was like, Did I read any? I did I come up with? Well, there's three books. But I mentioned two here because one is coming up. I did by myself like a grown up human being who reads I bought myself a nonfiction book by the First Lady of Iceland, Eliza read secrets of the sprak car, Iceland's extraordinary women and how they are changing the world. I read maybe like 50 pages of that. And then it's not that it's bad. It's probably quite interesting. I just, you know, I prefer fiction. Luckily, for listeners, I'm not going to pass on this category, because our book club did read a very good nonfiction book. And that was passed the origins of our discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. This is not a perfect book. But when you read something that fundamentally shifts your understanding of the world around you. I think that's pretty powerful. And you know, this is 400 pages. And I think that happened in the first 50. So maybe listeners, you don't have to read it. But Isabel Wilkerson is essentially looking at the African American experience and racism in the United States through the filter of tasks and she makes I think, the very obvious point that we forget that race is is entirely arbitrary. And that across different cultures, there is a caste system that is that sort of rigid hierarchy of humans. And the criteria that assigns you to a specific task can be totally different from one culture to another. She skips over the British class system. And I remember our book club being like, wait a second, you've missed something here. Because she was like, no, no, that's not cast, you know, you can just leave class behind, right. But it's a really fascinating read, I think it's really important read, it does just kind of gently make you think differently. And I would recommend that one that was my favourite nonfiction,
about you feel,
I think I might even read more nonfiction than fiction. So I do not have lawyers problem. And I find it very hard to whittle down. So I'm gonna go with the ones that I thought was most topical. And I kept on mentioning throughout this year, one was Catherine Veltins, amazing Putin's people about Putin and just the sort of structures and put him in power. And Mary's sorority who's an academic maybe at Yale, I'm not sure, who wrote not one inch about the history of negotiations between NATO and Russia in the 90s and 2000s, and NATO expansion and blah, blah, blah. Sounds a bit dry, but a good book, but my favourite book was the red prince, the fall of a dynasty and the rise of modern Europe. By Timothy Snyder. This book is this amazing portrait of this guy Vilhelm von Habsburg, who was one of the last Habsburg arch Dukes, it was relation to the Emperor and Franz Ferdinand grew up between Croatia and Poland, he lived through both World Wars. And what the book is a portrait of is how power shifted and how ideology shifted. In this time period. He had this fascinating life. He was also in Paris before the war under occupied Paris in the 40s. He then fought against the communists, he was also a spy, he just had this amazing life. And it was the hinge of so many things, so much history, including a lot of the history of Ukraine, which is obviously something we're all interested in these days. So it was just a sort of astonishing book, which I've mentioned so many times, just because it blew me out of the water. It came out eight or nine years ago, and Timothy Snyder is a fairly famous historian of Eastern Europe, and also Ukraine, just an amazing book of the red prince.
What was the nudge that got you to read that? Was he on your radar anyway, I just can't even imagine even coming across like to think I would, but
this is what I just every year I go for work, and I have this weekend Viana. So I'm always looking for new novels or histories in Herrera and Vienna. I've read a lot of the obvious ones, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, some others, and this just sort of popped up through my googling of I don't know what exactly, but yeah,
well, often I'm like, oh, yeah, I really want to read that but I'm gonna be honest and say alright, so this is one for you and me, Laura. Are they Phil is in your book club. So imagining he's gonna weigh in. That is our favourite book club, read the 2022. Do you wanna run through what books your book club tackled this year,
we read my phantoms by Gwendolyn Riley, the country of others by Leila Slimani cast that I just mentioned by Isabel Wilkerson Michelle, the Giants, an African and Greenland's by Tete Michel Coomassie. When we cease to understand the world by Benjamin Lebra tude, and eight months on Gaza Street, by Hilary Mantel, a really good list I should say. Lots of those books were memorable and feature in this discussion and were runners up otherwise. What about you, Kate?
I'm containing myself because you read when we cease to understand the world by Benjamin lover too, which is one way total favourite books I've ever read, but I think I read it in 2021 I think I read it at the end of 21. Love that book. My book club read the heart is a lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers light perpetual by Francis buffered a narrow land by Christine Dwyer Hickey, which we picked because it won the Walter Scott historical Prize for Fiction, a book called speedboat by Renata Adela, which is slightly obscure, but the prompt for us when we chose that one was a book, the year of your birth. The hummingbird by Sandra Veronesi our regular listeners for the podcast will know that I am on record my feelings about that book. And the seven moons of Molly Almeida by Shan Karen silica, which listens again will know that I absolutely loved I was really pleased that we read the heart is a lonely hunter. I had never read anything by Carson McCullers before and it was a really strong reading experience. I was really happy to have read that my favourite book club book this year, I realised I had to be like perpetual by Francis buffered, which tells a story of five children who, in real life, were killed in a bomb blast that happened in a department store. Francis Spofford works at Goldsmiths University in South London. And every day on his way to work, he would pass this building that had this little plaque commemorating this event, and the fact that a number of people died, including these five children, and I think he was just intrigued about the lives they might have lived had they been able to. And so that's the starting premise for this book, which follows these five children through the lives that they would have lived. It's very much a portrait of London, this place in London, which he invents, but which feels like a real London borough. And you dip in and out of these characters lives at various points, I always wasn't so sure about it initially. And I was a bit disappointed because I really loved his previous book, golden Hill, that was just really fun, historical, wrong with a real mystery at its heart and blood, things pulling you through it. I just love that. And this is not that this is very different from that. And I Yeah, wasn't getting on with it for a while. But little by little it did work, its magic. And I did get really absorbed, really invested in this something about that sense of lives lived in time. There's something very beautiful and very profound about life that he really managed to capture. And I was so moved by it at the end. And I just thought he's such a great writer, he's so inventive. And he just on a sentence level writes absolutely beautifully. But he's also brilliant at evoking place, and time and all these little details. And it sort of feels effortless when you read him, you know, like he just sits down and, you know, it all flows out. But there must be so much work and craft or research that goes into it. But you're not aware of any of that, as a reader. It's just this really amazing experience. And it made for a really good discussion book as well. It resonated with everybody in different ways. And that's always really great for a book club, because you know, you get all these different perspectives coming in, and it got people talking about their own experiences or places that were important to them. And that was really nice as well. So yeah, that was a great one for us. So let's get back to you then have that little list which was
Well, first I just have to say, do you recall what happened after we discussed like perpetual on the podcast we
talk about like my propensity for a special episode. We don't always manage to do every book that we read. Do we like in the old days when all our episodes were book club episodes?
Maybe it wasn't a podcast episode. Maybe it was the newsletter, but Francis Spofford wrote you in
Oh, I remember that. Yeah, that was a highlight of my my podcasting life. He wrote me an email was the best email just to say what did he say? Was it the my next book is going to be more like golden Hill?
I had forgotten this myself. But when I was skipping back through our book club Whatsapp group to try and remember what we had read as a group earlier today, I spotted it. So that's why it was front of mind. What did he say? And it was a very short little No. Subject, golden Hill ish message, just to say that my next book, which will be finishing this summer, so I suppose we'll be out sometime next year, will be far more golden Hill ish than light perpetual. Because I think you said that you were expecting something more like golden hill which you loved, which my book club loved. But then it won you over anyway. And then you wrote back to them saying, but then it'll be in mourning that it's not more like like perpetual,
so you can't go with
Well, first of all, before I announce my book club book of the year, did your book club read the hummingbird by Sandra Rivera uneasy because I realised my book. Yeah, we did. And I forgot to list it because Okay, so yeah, because we're getting
a bit that was kind of a bit concerned that we had dropped back a couple of book club books and I thought a good way of doing that would be if my book club read the same as you and then we could catch up. So that's why my lot did that one as well. Okay,
I forgot to mention it on my list. So yes, we also read the hummingbird by Sandra, because it's
very forgettable book.
On this, yes. For me, my book club book of the year was Michelle, the Giants an African and Greenland by Tete Michel Tomasi. What an incredible book. It had been reissued I think, in the last few years, and I believe it was Francis who flagged it. It is a memoir about Paul Massey's journey from Togo in the 1950s. To the very far north. He travels to Greenland, and it takes him about 10 years to get there. And he does it just through sheer determination and purpose, but also charisma, the charisma comes off the page. He has this vision, he wants to travel to Greenland. He wants to meet the Inuit, he wants to see the Far North. And somehow he makes his way across Europe making friends until he finally makes it to Greenland. And his tone is utterly and judgmental. And we loved the opportunity to read what in effect is almost like an anthropological study of the Inuit, but not through the white colonial gaze through Massey's gaze and from his experiences growing up in Togo at colonised nation as well. It's an incredible book. He's still alive today. When we read about him at book club, he was still planning on moving to Greenland to end his life there. It made for a really great discussion and a super memorable read. Phil's not saying that's mine.
I would use a mental the one you guys discussed in the last episode, which blew me away. Oh,
so that's eight months on Gaza Street by Hilary Mantel, and it was good. Super good.
Why would you read anyone else?
A very good question.
Well, 22 his two was the year in which Russia invaded Ukraine in the UK politics seem to take a severe downturn in terms of leadership and vision. A fascist party joined the government in Italy, Trump announced he was going to run again and in the US Roe v. Wade was overturned. Twitter died. Thanks to Elon Musk. Hillary mentelle died. And of course we've all had ups and downs in our personal lives. And so what were our favourite comfort breeds? The books that were there for us when we needed them? Phil, what was yours? I
actually have a lot of stuff Woodhouse is always my go to if I'm at all stressed out or anything. Neil Gaiman has added that list too. So perfect. Just sort of decompress. So a bunch of him that book still life by Sir Woodman just like taking a vacation in Florence. But my choice was actually either or the new LF Batman the sequel to the idiot. And it was such a delight. Structurally, it's very similar to that yet. The idea is following this protagonist freshman year at Harvard, and then the summer after, when she's in Hungary. And this is following her sophomore year and all the classes she takes. And then the summer after, in Turkey. She's just the most delightful protagonist, how she observes the world. I'm constantly laughing and overjoyed. And it's just, I just want this person to write everything. I just want to read everything. And that to be it. Like the only thing I read is that protagonist. It's just a complete delight if you have not read it yet. Yeah, I
didn't get to that one. I'd like her. I read the ad. And I also read the nonfiction name of which escapes me
the one about Russian literature. No,
yeah, the idea is, is it's basically the nonfiction version of the idiot. Right? The possessed. That's it. So that's a nonfiction account where you realise, you know, she is basically this protagonist. And so then for me, I didn't enjoy the idea as much because the fiction kind of almost like gotten away slightly. And so either all wasn't an automatic read for the same reasons, but you've really sold it to me, and
I loved the idea. I remember laughing out loud, because it's this incredibly intelligent young woman who's just making all the stupid things in her personal life that like young people do. So it's kind of an adorable combination. I'm adding books to my holiday reading list. So we go. And that one, and that one. How about you? What was yours? Well, if Phil turns to Roadhouse, I think it's fair to say that both Kate and I will turn to Georgette Heyer, if we need a palate cleanser, you know, a mild kind of like refresh of our minds, and I definitely read a few of those this year. The one that springs to mind is bath tangle, which hadn't run for quite some time. If you leave three to five years, you'll forget the plot and then you can reread them.
I'd say that's the amount of time that's exactly right.
But my favourite comfort read of the year, which is a bit of a funny one for me is the sanatorium by Sara purse, which was a new release. I think it was on like Reese's book club list. And I picked this up as I was heading off on a holiday to Vancouver Island last February, I had been in a reading funk, I brought some books with me it was rare, and I got that on the ferry. It's a crime novel, a young woman goes to a high end Swiss hotel that used to be a sanatorium. And there's a series of murders happening it's quite gruesome at moments in a way that I don't usually like and I just sped through that book like no tomorrow It was sheer entertainment is exactly what I needed to get back into reading. And I guess it gave me a good sense of why some people comfort read crime because there was enough in there to keep me reading while also being conventional and predictable in some ways that make you feel like okay, yep. Now this is going to happen. Okay. All right. Good. Good. Good. That's my pitch so
funny because that's was shortlisted on my list of books that I read that I wished I hadn't.
All the things that you love, please thing
Yeah, no, it didn't work for me at all. My cover read was a very old favourite. I think I've even talked about on the podcast before many listeners if not all of them, I'm sure will know it well, and it's the director of ritual lady by em Delafield. We've been in the process of moving houses incredibly long drawn out protracted process of moving house currently between two houses. And as a result, I'm going to be shifting books from here to there. And idli pick this up and open Did it and then just really sank into it and felt so happy to be reading it again, I turned back to the beginning and read it again properly. It's a diary of a genteel lady of polish in the 1930s, who very much seems to be, you know, it's basically the author, and she's living in this rural village and denture on the grand estate of Lady. What's her name, Lady B. And her husband is the state manager. I think she's got two children. She's got a French governess, there's a cook. So she's got domestic staff to manage and also her household. I was wondering, why is it so good, it's hilarious. Firstly, it's just very, very funny. It's love at that funny. But it's because all the little domestic details, even though they're not in any way relatable, her life is very, very different to any average person's life now, at this moment in time, but nonetheless, there's so much of it, where it just absolutely rings, so true, and you recognise it. And she's so brilliant about all these sort of awkward social interactions. And she's the author as well, in the book, the character is an author. And so there's just this very funny portraits of the literary world and her ongoing tussles with her book club, who send her books and she thinks she's gonna read them, and then doesn't get round to it, and then put them back on read, and having to come up with excuses for why she hasn't got to it yet, at a dinner party web, everyone's talking about it or whatever. It's so relatable and so true. And that's why it's so funny, and it's warm, and you fall in love with all the characters, you just fly through it. It's such a delight. So yeah, my comfort reader. So good. All right. Next up, it is a book that made you laugh over a book that made you cry. I could do this one quickly, because in a way, this is easy for me because it was a whole podcast on it. I did an interview with Rob Delaney about his book, a heart of the works, which is a very moving memoir about the death of his young son, Henry. I actually know Rob, and we have a few things in common him and I and so it was quite difficult show for me to do that one. I was very keyed up and anxious about doing it. And certainly reading the book stirred up a lot of emotion for me, as I think maybe it would do for a lot of people who read it. But it was just amazing healing conversation that I felt so lucky to have been able to have an event locked me and I think, yeah, the book is doing so well. It's been a best seller here. I believe it's now bestseller in the States as well. And I just think that's so wonderful, because he's written something that is about a very specific set of circumstances, his own family's experience, but there is something so moving and universal about it that anyone can relate to. It's about grief and loss, but it's also about humour and joy and all the things that make life worth living. And yeah, it was just a wonderful read. It didn't make me cry, and laugh about you
feel I suck much more laughter on this one, either or would obviously qualify but I went with Three Men in a Boat. Do you know this?
That up in the Oxfam bookshop? The other day,
it's on the list of funniest books ever. Always.
I read a page it didn't seem funny to me.
Well, you have to like so I had done this before. And then I just ploughed through a bit more. I mean, it's a very short book. But it's very proto, if you like what has it's very proud of what has basically three Uppercross Victorian tops think Bertie Wooster who are bored and they decide to get a boat and to just go down the Thames for a couple of weeks and disasters and high jinks ensue. It is just as funny is I feel like people say and I also listened to it with you Laurie reading it. And it was just I was just tears. I mean in tears laughing Yeah, entire time.
That's good. It made you laugh and cry. Exactly. Maybe that's why the audio book is selling that to me, actually. Because it's true. Yeah, I literally picked it up read a page of it. This doesn't seem funny at all. Yeah. How about you, Laura,
we've often talked about how it's a challenge for a book to make us laugh out loud and equally, that it can be a challenge to have a book that made us cry. I've got three books that I feel like I must mention, let's just say they moved me and in some moments, they were very funny. I wanted to call out small by Claire Lynch. Claire came on the podcast early in the year. And we spoke to her about her memoir, which charts her journey to becoming a parent with her wife and their experience of IVF and the premature births of their two twin daughters. And that was a really beautifully crafted memoir, and also a very special conversation. I wanted to shout out to the sentence by Louise eldritch which I read after you recommended a Kate and then my Canadian book club picked it by chance that novel is the story of Turkey who works in a bookshop, she is indigenous and she becomes haunted by the ghost of one of the book shops most loyal customers and that is very funny but also dark and moving in its way. But but I'm sorry, I'm talking. I told Kate beforehand listeners that she couldn't talk about more than one book. And hypocritically I'm talking about all I want
to hear about all the book so I was the one always who wanted to I read
the book that made me laugh and cry that you know I just remember this feeling in the pit of my stomach towards the end of this book is the bread the devil need by Lisa Allen Agostini the bread the devil need is the story of this incredible protagonist Althea, who lives in Trinidad, who is, in some ways to all appearances, winning at life. She's in her late 30s. She's successfully running a small fashion boutique bought at home, her relationship with their partner is very abusive, some really Savage, domestic violence at the hands of her partner, and we go on a journey with her. She's a smart, capable woman and how is she found herself in this position? Well, then you have to go back in time and understand where she has come from and what that origin story is. It's written in the Trinidadian dialect, and it's just a joy. She's such a memorable character to you haven't read this, Phil, you're looking
very intrigued. I've written it down. That sounds amazing. Oh, it's
really great, really, really special book, it was definitely up there for my overall book of the year. But something else did pivot to the post
that ties in with the next category, which is a book that you gave or loan to a friend. That was the one that I picked, because I gave it to our friend Amanda, thinking that she would love it. I was like, This is so good. It's a bit difficult as domestic violence see the face like oh, you know, but I was like, but it's so good. It's so good. You're gonna love it. How about you feel the book that you gave all loans? I didn't give
a lot. So I'm switching this to sort of the book I pushed on friends raving about the most. The runner up was we don't know ourselves by Fintan O'Toole, which I recommended on a previous pod about his biography, but also the history of modern Ireland.
That was on the New York Times top 10 books, wasn't it, which everyone was saying we haven't read any of these two or three.
That one is it's such an amazing book. But the book I've probably pushed even more than that is the free world by Lewis Medan, which was actually the first book I read. It's a bit of a tome. It's 720 pages, where he goes through the mid century intellectual and cultural and artistic world and particularly the ferment following World War Two. And all of the emigrants who left Europe for other places, primarily, the states, keep basically organises by chapter around either specific intellectuals. So George Kean, and George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, but also talking about abstract expressionism and the Beatles. It sounds a lot and it sounds daunting. And it sounds like why would you ever read that? No, I think it sounds great. One reviewer wrote that basically, for every chapter, the chapter is probably the best primer on that topic. And his writing is amazing. He's very engaged intellectually with all of it. It just made me feel like when you were most engaged in college or university, when you had the professor who just was like, you could feel your mind the neurons interconnecting and your mind growing, and it just felt like that on every page in the most exhilarating way. I've just been pushing that. But I listened to it. I went out and bought the thing in print, because I know I'm just going to be constantly referring back. So that's the one
that does sound like something. I'm like the other one. I'm very sold on that one. And how about you, Laura? What's a book that you learned to a friend?
Well, I'll be curious, have you to have read it now because I've talked about it a lot over the past 12 months, I had two copies, one copy, I gave away one I loaned it to my family. And that was the 16 trees of the song by Lars mitting. This had everything for me that a good read should have it had travelled because you move from Norway to the Shetlands, to the battlefields of the Somme, you have a dark family mystery. So our protagonist is a young man Edvard, he's grown up on a tree farm in northern Norway, raised by his grandparents. And there's this mystery surrounding his own parents death, because at the age of three, they died in northern France. And it's all shrouded in mystery, and there's a missing great uncle who he believes is dead. But when his own grandfather passes away, this beautifully constructed, coffin arrives, and he knows that his great uncle was a master carpenter. So he goes on a journey to try and uncover the truth. It's gripping and surprising. There's a bit of romance in there. Such a good read, this could have been my comfort read, actually, I loaned it to a tonne of people. They all seem to enjoy it very much. I recommend it to everyone who's looking for something good to settle into over the holiday. All right,
we're nearly there. We're nearly at our overall book of the year. But just before we get there, just because it's kind of fun. I wondered if you'd be willing to talk about a book that you read, maybe you wished you hadn't. Or a book that you didn't finish or a book that disappointed you in some way maybe didn't live up to Your expectations.
I feel like there's the risk of this feeling like a slightly mean spirited category. I mean, that's never really stopped. I will say. I will say that I started reading the absolute book by Elizabeth Knox and I think was raving about it over WhatsApp to you guys. Because I was saying it's got magic. It's got fairies. It's got crime. It's got like a thriller like, oh, it has a library. It has a mystery book. Hence the title. I was like, this book is everything I've ever wanted in the light page turning read. It's a strange one. Because I did love parts of this book. It's just really uneven. And so in the end, it got very convoluted and somehow ended up being about climate change. And I was just kind of like, oh, well, okay, this is not what I thought I was gonna get. Not a terrible read. I'd say maybe try it. But an interesting one that could have done with some editing.
Oh, shame. Okay, Phil, how about you,
Erin? A couple that for disappointments. Because my hopes are so high. I don't even want to bring them up. Because it just feels mean. Well, I
wonder if one of mine isn't going to be one that exactly fits into that category.
But there's one that I just hated, which I read because so many people love it. Which is a little life. Oh, Jana Gohara, which was maybe 5000 pages. I don't know, it was 1000
It felt like it felt like it was way too long. It's basically there's modern passion play, theoretically, today and blah, blah, blah. But it's just set up to torture this one character
passion play almost like the mediaeval. Yes. And that's when it was explained to people who didn't do mediaeval Studies degree or read as much mediaeval things as you do what actually is right sort
of reenacting the Passion of Christ, the crown of thorns, and hanging on the cross is mediaeval passion plays, also saints they would use but just sort of the gruesome torture and death of the saint or Christ or whoever.
This is fascinating. This is a take on a little life that I haven't heard before.
About that. So I mean, I spent, I had a lot of time to think about why I was not liking any of it. It's also just filled with these characters who there's so much verbiage around them. But they're basically stick figures, I felt like there was almost no three dimensional characters in this thing. They're also all very in the story. They're all gay, but they are the least queer gay characters I've ever read. I mean, I just nothing was believable. I am astonished at the number of my friends who love this and the number of writers I really respect who think this is one of their favourite books. So obviously, I am not getting something about it. But wow, this is a bad book.
Oh, it's so interesting. Hmm. Because I'm still on the fence, like, should I should I just feel My instinct is that, you know, there are things in there, which once you've read, you're not going to forget them. And I almost felt like I just don't know, if I want those things in my head. Like, I just feel quite simply about it. And I'm not convinced that the rest of it is going to be profound enough or moving enough to make that worthwhile to me, you know, when we read East West Street by Philippe sounds, and there is something in that book. It's just a detail. Its paragraph. And I remember at the time when I read it, the horror of reading it, and I will never forget it and I continue to be haunted by it. I'm glad I read that. But we raved about that book. I love that book. I would never want to not have read that. But I will now carry that image in my head very immediately and found they wish to important I think, in a way but you know what I mean? I just like I felt like his little life gonna be like that. So anyway. Yeah. Interesting. Well, so mine. It's not about being mean spirited. I think I was so excited to read Liberation Day, the new collection of short stories by George Saunders, who is a author that I really Revere. There aren't that many authors where I've read everything that they've written, but I'm pretty sure I've read everything that George Foreman has written. I really, really really love his work. I thought Lincoln in the Bardo was an incredible book. I really love 10th of December. That's where I discovered him when we did that collection short stories for Book Club many years ago now and then I went on to read his other books, nonfiction and the book about the seminars he gives on writing swim in the pond in the rain. Alright, yeah, looking at the Russian quite short stories, and I'm picking those with everything, everything he writes, I just love. So I was expecting to love this so much, I think and it's not that it's not good. It's George Saunders. It's amazing. It's just the bar is so unbelievably high for George Saunders. And I just objectively felt it somehow wasn't as good in the sense that I just didn't feel as engaged. I didn't feel as moved. I didn't feel as surprised. For me. There were echoes of things that he did in 10th of December, but I felt like he did them much more convincingly there and I almost felt my reaction to immediately after I read it was just I remember thinking you know that this world has got to George Saunders is trying to grab With the enormity of sort of shifting societies and this feeling, I think a collapse and sliding downhill and the existential crisis with climate change. And all of that is woven in there. And there are no answers to those things. And I think even George Saunders can't come up with them. This book is so ambitious, but somehow it just didn't really work for me. I'm happy I read it. And I would still recommend to anybody, but if you haven't read George Saunders before, I would say, do you read the 10th of December? Do you read Lincoln in the Bardo? And then maybe come to this? I feel like this is one for George Saunders. completest. Okay, well, I feel like no, I'm just skirting around the real book, the book of the year, how to define book of the year, what is it your best reading experience the book you've just loved overall, others? Is that about right?
I think we get to make our own criteria. All right,
good. So you can just define it as you go. Laurie, you're looking ready.
Okay, my Book of the Year is the trees by Percival Everett, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. And the longer I think about it, the more I feel like it should have won, I still have not finished the seven mins of Molly almeyda. And I think there's implicit criticism there. The trees, my personal effort is incredibly readable. And the style I think, is deceptively simple. It immediately plunges you into Mississippi, but not Mississippi, as it likely is today, I say that I've never been. It's a scathing portrait, I think of lower class white Americans in Mississippi. It's very satirical. You all you can't even describe this book without giving away too much, perhaps. But basically, it's a buddy cop caper. To start with, where you have murders taking place in money, Mississippi, were in the first instance. And then the second instance, a local white man has been brutally murdered. And alongside him is the body of a small black man who also seems to have been brutally murdered. And did they kill each other? And what's happened here? And so the cops roll in from the big city and they are black men coming into money. And there's a lot of racist baggage that's coming up against them. You read in initially, and you're thinking How did this even get shortlisted for the Booker? But then it unravels from there and it becomes something very strange in terms of magic realism and race relations in the United States. I read it after having read passed. And I think that slightly, they were just very complimentary. I feel like it's a classic. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being studied in schools, and certainly at universities over the coming decades. That's my Book of the Year. It
was a great read. You're right. It's good to have that in there. That's your book of the year. Wow.
That's my Book of the Year.
I want to go next because if I'm conscious that Phil is waiting to go after me that will stop me going on too long, which is obviously a real problem. Oh my God, just to choose one. What a nightmare. I have to give a shout out to after Sappho by Selby wind Schwartz. It was long listed for the book, but not shortlisted. I think that was right, because it's not really fiction. It's one of those books that I always find only find them problematic when they're in contention for fiction prizes. It's based on true life fragments from history. she weaves together this polyphonic narrative, all these different women voices throughout history, it was so well done. It was so beautifully written. There were individual sentences that just made me want to shiver with the light. It was just wonderful. And all going back to the poetry of Sappho, this Greek poet s. We only have the tiniest fragments of her work that have survived and come down to us today. But more is known about her through the way that other people referenced her. So we know that she was someone really important in Greek culture. But these fragments that remain are extraordinary. And this book really holds them up. And it was just such a delight. It was really, really wonderful. I urge everybody if you haven't read it, do seek it out. It's amazing. And I also love the door by Magda Sabo, a Hungarian writer.
That's a classic eating now.
I was just recommending that to someone last night, if you loved Elena Ferrante, if you love Leila Slimani you know, kind of intense psychological relationships between women do not miss the door. It's amazing. It's such a great read, but if book of the year for me is like the reading experience that just blew me away, then it has to be Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. The what is it? 900 Page Western. It feels like the world is divided into people who've read learn some stuff by Larry McMurtry and people who haven't yet because it's such a great book and you're like cowboy book, I'm not interested in cowboys, who is hardly anyone. Don't let that put you off, even when you start reading it, you know, it was a good 300 pages or so before I was convinced I was sort of good. Like from the beginning. You know, you're reading something good, but I was really just like, well, when am I gonna get to the stage where I fall in love with the characters. I don't really care about these characters that much. And then they've got these cattle these two Texas Rangers who decide To gather all these huddled together and take them up to Montana, and they get to graze them up there and start a cattle ranch. And this is in the end of the century west where there was still large areas of unsettled land that was still the Native American population. It's that period of time that we're all quite familiar with, from all those cowboy movies. So they're taking these counts up through the globe and country and as the sandstorm they're in this sandstorm, and suddenly, I was just like, Oh, my God, like, what is gonna happen, and I was telling the Peters, I couldn't believe it. It's just the drama. He was a screenwriter, very, very successful, he won many Oscars for his work. And this shows it's so vivid, it's so cinematic, but the characters are wonderful. The reason it's a slow burn is because it only starts to work. When you really know these characters, and it takes a long time to get to know them, you don't get to know someone straight away, it takes a long time. And that's the magic of this book, you spend time with these characters, you're invested in them. And it's not the thing I love the most about it, I kept thinking I was going to find it dated or irrelevant. And it's true that the female characters, you know, that's sort of, they are main characters, and they do have a really, really, really strong voice. I think what I liked in this is that I felt like he's interrogating those stereotypes of the wild west and the taming of America and colonisation and settling of America. And that whole Manifest Destiny idea, I feel like he was really unpicking that and looking at that in a way that was very, very subtle, very, very clever, beautifully done, and said, this book felt powerful and interesting. And such a great read. I really, really loved it. I haven't read any of the others. I don't think I ever will. Because this to me was a perfect reading experience. And I don't ever want to spoil it by reading something else by him that potentially isn't quite as good. So that is my Book of the Year. Okay, Phil, yours is gonna be the final voice. Tell us your because
my runner up, you could make a very good case. It was a book of the year, I'd read the first two of the four. Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novels, and I read them all this year. So I reread the first two and finished and those are obviously pretty perfect, but it's also a very dumb recommendation, because everyone it's sort of like saying chocolates. Good, right? We all know this. So that is not my Book of the Year, my Book of the Year is the free world, the Louis Vuitton. Were just talking about it tonight, I sort of want to go back and dive right back in and read it again. I don't anticipate doing that as I go on. But I do anticipate picking it up very frequently. I just can't say enough good things about it. So there we go. I love
that. And I love that I've never heard of it. There are just so many books on there. I was chatting to someone in the coffee shop the other day. And he was telling me about a fantasy novel even now I can't remember the title of it. Although I did vaguely recognise the cover when he showed me on his phone that he was telling me about this book. And he's like, Oh, something about oranges, the light of oranges or something like Oh, I the orange light or something.
Right. And it's like sort of Chinese fantasy. Yeah, the thing
is, I hadn't really heard of it. I didn't really know anything about it. And he was showing me and I was like, All right, and I made a note and I looked it up, looked it up and immediately said Sunday Times bestseller, New York Times bestseller. I just think it's brilliant in a way that even when you are fairly, you know, into the book world, and you're trying to keep an eye on what's out there, and you're trying to read everything that comes your way. Still, there's just so many books and so great to hear recommendations, especially when they're things that I wouldn't have come across otherwise. And what are you reading now? What's the book that's going to take you into the Christmas period? What book have you got on the go?
I'm gonna start that book Babel. Have you seen that?
Yes, I got that from my sister. I read the Kindle sample for that. And it was great.
I don't know. I just saw it in the bookstore. And I flicked through and I was like, Okay, this is going to be because it looks like a perfect sort of holiday book, light, historical.
It's by Rf Kuang. I think KU A and G. And it was a huge bestseller in America. And there was a funny story where I believe the publishers hadn't printed enough copies to meet demand. And so everyone wanted this book and you literally could not get it on the bookshelf. And when I heard that, that made me curious about it. So I downloaded the Kindle sample. It's a kind of coming of age story, isn't it? The main character who is an orphan, is that right? Something like that. And he is taken under the protection of this powerful man who sends him to school and seems quite Stern. And he's learning as to do with translation, isn't it and the idea of language, but in this world, which is a bit like Philip Pullman, it's close to our world, but not in this world. Language is somehow linked to magic and the way that certain individuals can manipulate silver and the characters are great. It was very propulsive, it burned through the Kindle sample. And I will definitely read the rest at some point.
And it's also I think, an Oxford in the 19th century, but separately, sort of like the whole Yeah, also, but also, I think, this author, that previous trilogy, was about the Opium Wars. So I think there's this other part, which is about British imperialism and China, blah, blah, blah. I don't know. It's just it's just sounds amazing. So I'm desperate to read it. Yeah, I'm
sure you would love it, Laura. It's very up your street.
Absolutely. I just found a little quote. It says, I have absolutely no doubt that Quinn's name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and NK Jemisin. And I'm like, Okay, guys, since you love right, we're all gonna finish this and
How about you, Laura? What book are you reading that's gonna take you into crystal? Well,
Phil was saying that his book club book of the year was eight months on Gaza Street. And we talked on the podcast about how wonderful mantle's writing is, and what a reminder was that she is just such a pleasure to read. And so I have started reading a place of greater safety, which is her like foreign stomping 1200 Plus page historical novel about the French Revolution. I'm only about 35% in and I have been reading now for two weeks, but it is great. So I'm planning to keep reading that I might have to pause, I'd have to drop in some GA here, I might have to read clang in there. I think I have to fit in a book club book, which is Utopia avenue by David Mitchell. So that'll be fun. Yeah, I can't wait so much reading opportunity over the holidays. Well, in
contrast to those door stoppers, I've got a very slim little book, which is called the English understand wool by Helen DeWitt was just intrigued by it. And I think someone flagged it up online and I ordered it and the covers almost like a child's picture book. It's obviously part of some clever series, because there are all these other interesting authors mentioned, but they all seem to be quite short. And I opened it as as as my mom now as is my habit, I opened it to start reading it and it was so hooked. I ended up sitting on the bed and just enjoying it a story from a daughter talking about her wealthy mother who has got very specific ideas about taste and deportment, I suppose and behaviour, but it feels like something else is going on underneath. And I'm very intrigued to find out what it's by Helen DeWitt who wrote a book called The Last Samurai that I read and really enjoyed a few years ago. I also just wanted to mention just talking about taking you into Christmas, I've really been enjoying drama Kate young, and her little library cookbooks, we interviewed Kate, she is someone who writes these wonderful cookbooks. But all the recipes are related to or inspired by passages in literature. And so she will take inspiration from something that she's read, and then come up with a recipe and then the books of the How to the pictures of the food. And also all the little anecdotes about the literary references, she's got a new one out a little library parties, which is just as I'd expected, it's so great. If you're thinking about New Year's or you know, you've got people coming over for Christmas. I like cooking, and I like to read about food, like I like it even more when I'm also reading about books and reading and Kate's to someone, a reader, a proper reader. So it's like getting lots of recommendations from a friend and also got the little library Christmas, which I the whole thing is just like the warmest Christmas hug. If you're in any way not feeling it this year, you know, just not getting enough Christmas vibe. I promise you this book, just to curl up with and read through is Christmas encased within the pages of a book. It's right there. And I really been enjoying that. And I'm definitely going to be making a few things from it as well. So yeah, that's 2022.
That's 2022 listeners, so many books to read. That's all gonna end up in the show notes.
So many of those books we've done full episodes on. So when I list them, I will also include the links to those shows if you want to go off and get the full story. Well, Laura, Phil, it's been so great doing this show with you. And I trust Well, of course with Laura, but hopefully with you, Phil as well. We're going to be making lots more podcasts next year.
I look forward to it. It's always so fun being on the show.
That's nearly it for this episode. All the books we mentioned major and minor are listed in the show notes. And you can find more details plus a transcript and our comments forum over on our website, the book club review.co.uk. There you can also browse our archives sign up to our newsletter for reviews and recommendations in between shows. And if you liked the show and want to support us financially, you can find out about our Patreon, which we are just about ready to launch. We've also recently been uploading our episode archive to YouTube. So if you'd like listening to your podcasts that way, you'll find plenty of episodes on our channel at the Book Club Review podcast. Keep in touch with us between shows on Instagram at Book Club Review podcast on Twitter at book club RBW pod or email us anytime at the book club firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear your thoughts and for recommendations. We'll be back with another episode soon. But for now, thanks for listening and happy book-clubbing.