Why I No Longer Trust Richard and Judy

The BookDepository

I have always loved Richard and Judy. When I was a child I watched them on This Morning and I loved the fact that they moved to their afternoon show at exactly the same time as I started my first job – meaning I could come home from work just in time to catch them!

When they started their book club I was very excited. I remember rushing out to buy two or three of their selections the moment the list was announced. It was a great way to start the New Year as I knew that at least one book would become my favourite of that year and several others would get close. Richard and Judy introduced me to The Time Traveller’s Wife, Cloud Atlas, Notes on a Scandal, Random Acts of Heroic Love and Mr. Pip – as well as many other wonderful books.

Unfortunately Richard and Judy left our TV screens a few years ago. I missed them, but was excited to learn that they planned to start an online book club. I hoped that I’d be able to recapture that book club feeling!

The eight books were announced in September :

I have now read them all and I was very disappointed.

Titles are linked to my review for each book.

The Wilding – Maria McCann 

The Snowman – Jo Nesbo 

Operation Mincemeat – Ben Macintyre 

No and Me – Delphine de Vigan 

The Crying Tree – Naseem Rakha 

Sister – Rosamund Lupton 

A Place of Secrets – Rachel Hore   (DNF)

Waiting for Columbus – Thomas Trofimuk   (DNF)

A few were enjoyable reads, but none will get close to being my favourite of the year. I won’t be recommending these books in 5 years time as I do with many of the original books from their TV show. These aren’t thought-provoking, special books. Just average, light reads.

I’m not sure I can blame Richard and Judy. They entered into an agreement with WH Smiths. A WH Smiths buying team then sent them 30 books to choose from. These probably are the best books from those 30, but they are a very different from the original, more literary, book club. I’m afraid that this selection has broken my trust with the Richard and Judy book club. I’ll be sticking with the TV Book Club whose books are chosen by Amanda Ross, the woman who used to choose Richard and Judy’s books.

If you’re missing the type of books that Richard and Judy used to choose then I highly recommend that you try:

Rupture by Simon Lelic

Room by Emma Donoghue

Bad Karma by David Safier

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

What do you think of the Richard and Judy Book Club this year?

Will you be reading their selections next year?


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  1. NickyB says:

    Sounds as if R&J has gone down the route of marketing and profit margins rather than literature and good reads.

    1. Jackie says:

      NickyB, In the past they successfully managed to combine both. It is such a shame that they failed this time :-(

  2. Interesting thoughts Jackie. I too used to love The Richard and Judy Book Club as you know and would try and read as many of the titles as I could, and even go back through their archives to see if any of their past reads worked for me and many of them did.

    I think the problem has been that with no TV show to accompany it there is less conversation and even though I’m by no means a giant fan of The TV Book Club the discussion in the later series of summer reads wasn’t half bad. I don’t know if they did forums or not but even that cant recreate a book group whereas TV sort of can… sort of.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I agree with you about the book group atmosphere – an average book can make a good discussion. The discussions on the TV Book Club are getting better all the time and they have persuaded me to try a few books, but even without the discussions I still loved the books that Richard and Judy used to pick. I knew that The Time Traveller’s Wife would be a favourite before I even saw the discussion.

      I don’t think R&J have a forum (just a site where you can leave reviews and comments, but they haven’t got any conversations going) but I have read a few forum threads about some of the books. There are some interesting discussions going on about the books, but if the books themselves aren’t amazing then I’m afraid I’ll always be disappointed.

  3. JoV says:

    I only started notice R&J book club 2 years ago, in 2008 list I have loved:
    A Thousand Splendid Suns, Random Acts of Heroic Love and Blood River – Tim Butcher (my favourites), “Notes from an Exhibition” – Patrick Gale and “Then we came to an end” – Ferris (didn’t like it or meh), but overall good books were selected in 2008, then it went downhill from 2009, I only like The 19th Wife and The Suspicion of Mr. Whicher, and this year I just couldn’t be bothered. if that’s how they have chosen their books (8 out of 30 books from WH smith), I don’t think I’ll be reading any for the coming years.

    Perhaps R&J should approach Waterstones instead. I think the guys at WStones have better taste.

    1. Jackie says:

      JoV, Wow! We seem to have a matching taste in books! I wasn’t a fan of Notes from an Exhibition or Then We Came to an End either.

      I’m not sure it went downhill in 2009. I read all the books: http://www.farmlanebooks.co.uk/?p=1015
      and had two 4.5 star books (Mr Whicher and Lily Aphrodite) that is good enough for me!

      1. JoV says:

        Aww… glad we have the same taste of books of R&J in 2008!! to be fair, I haven’t read every book in 2009. But if I could leave my reading schedule free and if you give me a cue when R&J publish their list for next year, maybe I can try reading them next year.

        Oops! I forgot, you no longer trust R&J. ;)

  4. sakura says:

    I’m actually rather bad at reading all the books on lists (prize and tv book clubs) but I remember picking up Cloud Atlas because of the Richard & Judy book club and will forever be thankful for that:) I agree with Simon that the latter half of The TV Book Club did have some interesting discussions, especially since Gok was no longer there;P Although I’m not sure I can forgive them for having Peter Andre on as a guest.

    1. Jackie says:

      sakura, I have always loved completing book lists. It does seem strange as I know I won’t like all of them, but it gives me a lot of satisfaction (and it is amazing how many times I love a book that I didn’t think I’d enjoy)

  5. cbjames says:

    I think this is linked to why I prefer book blogs to mainstream media review sources. Manstream media rarely looks at anything except what is new, which book blogs look at everything there is.

    Sounds to me like they went with the best out of the 30 they were presented, but 30 is a very small barrel of pickles to pick from.

    If you want a great pickle, you need a big barrel.

    1. Jackie says:

      cbjames, LOL! I love your talk of pickles :-)

  6. Amy says:

    Too bad about their new selection of books. An odd way for it to work, doesn’t sound like they really have a lot of choice on their own though. Disappointing when marketing wins out over integrity and quality.

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I agree. I think they’ve gone for profits over quality and that is very sad :-(

  7. Soul Muser says:

    Oh! I had never heard of Richard and Judy! Sorry – I guess we live worlds apart :-) but it’s always nice to learn something new. Sad that you didn’t enjoy the books so much. Looking forward to more from you sometime.

    1. Jackie says:

      Soul Muser, I think they are a very British thing and not very well known outside the UK so don’t worry that you’ve never heard of them :-)

  8. Steph says:

    I did notice that you didn’t seem to enjoy most of the books you were reading that were R&J selections – I wondered why you stuck with them! It’s too bad you weren’t able to discover any new favorites through them, but I guess that’s why there are book bloggers! :D

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, R&J have always picked a range of books, some of which I’ve liked and some I haven’t, but I had hoped I’d find a few gems and so kept reading. I also felt that it wouldn’t be right to write a post about how six of the eight books weren’t that great and so I read on until the end. I’m a lover of lists too!

  9. Sandy says:

    That is what happens when people sell out. I hope they see their error of their ways and revert back to the old tactics…

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I’ve got my fingers crossed :-)

  10. Brenna says:

    I don’t know who Richard and Judy are, but I did add No and Me to my TBR. I’ve also come to the conclusion that the covers in the UK almost always prettier than the US version.

    1. Jackie says:

      Brenna, Strange – I’ve been prefering US covers recently. Perhaps we all just want what we can’t have!!

      I hope you enjoy No and Me :-)

      1. Brenna says:

        I think you’re on to something!

  11. Kathleen says:

    That is so disappointing! Not living in the UK I don’t watch the show they used to be on and am not familiar with them other than through your blog. There is probably a website that will link me to the past titles they chose (when they were choosing good ones) and I’m off to see if I can find it.

  12. Kathleen says:

    Just found a list of the books they have chosen since the club started in 2004? It is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_%26_Judy#Richard_.26_Judy_Book_Club
    in case any of your other readers are interested.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, Thanks for supplying the link. I forget that people haven’t heard of Richard and Judy as they have such a big part in my life! I hope you found their selections interesting – they picked a lot of wonderful books:-)

  13. ifi says:

    Jackie, Your blog is just so wonderful and dynamic! I’m constantly amazed at how you manage to come up with interesting observations / comments / themes for your posts…AND always keep things book related. The Facial Recognition thing, the Autistica, the Giller Prize. I had never heard of ANY of these. Just wonderful. I don’t think I have yet read one of your posts and thought …enhh. (Yes, sorry, this is not adding anything to this post so I’ll stop now). Just don’t you do a Richard and Judy on us :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, Thank you for the kind words :-) Don’t worry. I plan to stay around, although I may have some time off over Christmas ;-)

  14. TERESA says:

    I agree that they’ve gone off the boil somewhat, Jackie. I wonder if they achieved good sales via WH Smith or not? Unfortunately I don’t think the TV Book Club has made the same impact that R and J once had. I know I heard of a new book related programme being touted for 2011 but my ancient brain is failing me re the details….

    1. Jackie says:

      Yes. All the books sold well:

      The question is whether they will continue to sell well next season as I for one won’t be rushing to buy any of them.

      I’m interested to find out more about the book related programme in 2011. I haven’t heard anything. I quite like The Wright Stuff book club – they are choosing fantastic books (including Room and Skippy Dies) but I think his club is hurt by the fact it is choosing expensive new releases.

  15. Violet says:

    I never knew about Richard and Judy book club, I remember seeing a sticker of the book club on a book and getting curious. After that all I have read about them is from your blog. Sorry you were disappointed in their selection this time.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, Sorry. It is a very British thing – I should have explained it a bit better. They are (were) a bit like a British Oprah.

  16. Jo says:

    Bit late in replying to this one!

    I have not read any of the new selection by R&J not sure why, although I do have a couple on my tbr list which have come from Amazon Vine.

    I just did not like the fact that they had gone with WHSMITHS, strange I know. When I think books I think Waterstones and when I think Waterstones I think books! I agree with not having a TV programme to back it all up, because the features they did were always really good. Closest thing I was going to get to a book group.

    I am waiting to see what they bring next year to the book club party and whether I get any of the books. I am started to get a bit more interested in the Radio 2 Book Club, again though a different format from the norm.

  17. Joanna says:

    I used to trust them as well, but nothing they recently recommended tempted me… apparently with good reason! I’ll look at the TV book club you mention though!

  18. Beth F says:

    How disappointing. I don’t remember Richard and Judy from the short time I lived in the UK, but I do know that you have written about their book picks before. What a shame that not even one is a true winner.

  19. What a shame! Well, you gave it a more-than-fair try, and you have other (trusted) sources to look to for recommendations.

  20. Jenners says:

    Sad that you can’t rely on them anymore. But at least there seems to be a reason why their picks aren’t as good … they seem to have their hands tied. only 30 books to choose from???? That seems nuts!


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  3. Richard and Judy Spring 2011 Book Club Titles Revealed – Farm Lane Books Blog
  4. Richard and Judy v The TV Book Club: Which has picked the best books this Summer? – Farm Lane Books Blog

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