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Book Group Reading List 2011/12

For the past 2 years our Reading Room Book Group has read and reviewed a wide range of books.  However, in July 2012, we decided to put a temporary stop to the book review element of the show.  You can still listen back to any of these reviews on our past podcasts - and the Reading Room Book Group may very well return shortly... watch this space!


Check out our podcasts to listen to past Reading Room Book Group reviews of these titles...

Half of a Yellow Sun by Cimamanda Ngozi AdichieROOM 8 - March 2011

Half of a Yellow Sun

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in Nigeria during the 1960s, at the time of a vicious civil war, three people are swept up in the violence. One is a young boy from a poor village who is employed at a university lecturer's house. Another is a young middle-class woman, Olanna, who has to confront the reality of the massacre of her relatives. And the third is a white man, a writer, who falls in love with Olanna's twin sister, a remote and enigmatic character. As these people's lives intersect, they have to question their own responses to the unfolding political events.


"This magnificent novel is a gripping portrayal of the horrors of war" - The Independent

A Short history of tractors in ukrainian by Marina Lewycka.jpgROOM 9 - April 2011

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

by Marina Lewycka

For years, Nadezhda and Vera, two Ukrainian sisters, raised in England by their refugee parents, have had as little as possible to do with each other - and they have their reasons. But now they find they'd better learn how to get along, because since their mother's death their aging father has been sliding into his second childhood, and an alarming new woman has just entered his life...


"Nothing short of amazing" - Daily Express

Long Way Down by Nick HornbyROOM 10 - May 2011

A Long Way Down

by Nick Hornby

‘Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block?' For disgraced TV presenter Martin Sharp the answer's pretty simple: he has wasted his life. And on New Year's Eve, he's going to end it all ... But not, as it happens, alone. Because first single-mum Maureen, then eighteen-year-old Jess and lastly American rock-god JJ turn up and crash Martin's private party. They've stolen his idea - but brought their own reasons. A few heated words and some slices of cold pizza later and these four strangers are suddenly allies. But is their unlikely friendship a good enough reason to carry on living?

Margrave of the Marshes by JohnPeelROOM 11 - June 2011

Margrave Of The Marshes

by John Peel

Not many people actually achieve the status of legend in their own lifetime. Fewer still actually deserve that status. John Peel is the exception which proves that rule. Beloved by millions - whether for his unstinting championing of musical talent or for his wildly popular Radio 4 show Home Truths - this is the astonishing book he began to write before his untimely death in October 2004, completed by the woman who knew him best, his wife Sheila.

"It's like listening to the story of a much missed friend ..." - Radio Times

The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerROOM 12 - August 2011

The Time Traveler's Wife

by Audrey Niffenegger

Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and they were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are alternately harrowing and amusing. The Time Traveler's Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare's passionate love for each other.

"A delight" - The Bookseller

One Day by Davi NichollsROOM 13 - September 2011

One Day

by David Nicholls

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.  So where will they be on this one day next year?  And the year after that? And every year that follows?

Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY. From the author of the massive bestseller STARTER FOR TEN.

"I can't recommend it more highly" - The Word

Flick by Abigail TarttelinROOM 14 - October 2011


by Abigail Tarttelin

My name is Flick and these are the images of my disconnected life, my forgettable weeks and unforgettable weekends. I am one of the disaffected youth, a child of the ASBO generation and we live like we might die every second, while missing all the real things we should be living for. The only other need-to-know detail is that I am so-called Flick, because my life is like the pages of a flick-book - a series of fast and frenetic images, delivered in double time, a bit of humour, a dash of tragedy, fairly black and white in its lack of variety - the end ever approaching as the pages run out. Each page a story, each flick a life failing. A life in bright, yet entirely similar images. A life ending fast. A life in snapshots. So, for your pleasure, here's a few of them.

"Flick's voice is both authentic and compelling ... Flick could become a slow-burn cult classic" - GQ

The Bees by Carole Ann DuffyROOM 15 - November 2011

The Bees

by Carole Ann Duffy

The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy’s first collection of new poems as Poet Laureate, and the much-anticipated successor to the T. S. Eliot Prize-winning Rapture. After the intimate focus of the earlier book, The Bees finds Duffy using her full poetic range: there are drinking songs, love poems, poems to the weather, poems of political anger; her celebrated ‘Last Post’ (written for the last surviving soldiers to fight in the First World War) showed that powerful public poetry still has a central place in our culture. There are elegies, too, for beloved friends, and – most movingly – the poet’s own mother.

1Q84 Book 1 & 2 by Haruki MarakamiROOM 17 - December 2011

1Q84 Books 1 & 2

by Haruki Marukami

The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo.  She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult.  Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true?

Both Aomame and Tengo notice that the world has grown strange; both realise that they are indispensable to each other. While their stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, the two come closer and closer to intertwining.

"...a work of maddening brilliance and gripping originality, deceptively casual in style, but vibrating with wit, intellect and ambition"  - The Times

If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One EP by Stewart LeeROOM 19 - February 2012

The 'If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One' EP

by Stewart Lee

Following his hugely acclaimed TV come-back Comedy Vehicle, Lee finds himself in search of ideas for a new Edinburgh show. On a long walk across London, he endures a coffee shop humiliation involving a loyalty card which suggests itself as a framing device. Later that month, thanks to Jeremy Clarkson's casual slur against Gordon Brown and the appearance of a well-meaning young comedian in an advert, a show is born. Featuring a transcript of the show fully annotated with footnotes, the If You Prefer A Milder Comedian EP confirms Stewart Lee as the most original, daring and brilliant comedian of his generation.

"A deeply unpleasant slimepit of bitterness.” - Jan Moir, Daily Mail

Pantheon by Sam BourneROOM 21 - March 2012


by Sam Bourne

The darkest secrets of World War II… finally revealed.

Europe is ablaze. America is undecided about joining the fight against Nazism. And James Zennor, a brilliant, troubled, young Oxford don is horrified. He returns one morning from rowing to discover that his wife has disappeared with their young son, leaving only a note declaring her continuing love.

A frantic search through wartime England leads James across the Atlantic and to one of America’s greatest universities, its elite clubs and secret societies – right to the heart of the American establishment. And in his hunt for his family, James unearths one of the darkest and deadliest secrets of a world at war…

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue TownsendROOM 23 - April 2012

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year

by Sue Townsend

The day her gifted twins leave home for university, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she's wanted to yell at the world, 'Stop! I want to get off'. Finally, this is her chance. Perhaps she will be able to think.

But word of Eva's refusal to get out of bed soon spreads.  Legions of fans are writing to her or gathering in the street to catch a glimpse of this 'angel'. Her mother Ruby is unsympathetic: 'She'd soon get out of bed if her arse was on fire.'

And, though the world keeps intruding, it is from the confines of her bed that Eva at last begins to understand freedom.

"Proof, once more, that Townsend is one of the funniest writers around" - The Times

Driving Jarvis Ham by Jim BobROOM 25 - May 2012

Driving Jarvis Ham

by Jim Bob

Meet Jarvis Ham: tea-room assistant, diarist, lift-cadger, Princess Di fan, secret alcoholic, and relentless seeker of fame. Jarvis may be an all-round irritant, but he's harmless, and deep down, you know, he's got a heart of gold. Hasn't he?

As his oldest (and only) friend reflects on his life with Jarvis Ham - infatuations, questionable hairstyles, home-made charity singles, reality TV auditions, paedophile alerts at the local swimming baths - he wonders what it would have been like if they had never met. But what are you going to do? He's a mate. DRIVING JARVIS HAM is a novel for anyone who has ever found themself looking across at a childhood friend, and wondering why they still know them.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceROOM 28 - July 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

by Rachel Joyce

When Harold Fry leaves home one morning to post a letter, with his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone.

All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life.

"A terrific debut" - the Bookseller

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