Richard and Judy v The TV Book Club: Which has picked the best books this Summer?

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Richard and Judy  and The TV Book Club and have both revealed their latest book club choices recently, but are either of them worth following and who is winning the battle of the book club?

Richard and Judy’s 2011 Summer Reads

The Confession of Katherine HowardThe Return of Captain John EmmettThe Novel in the ViolaEvery Last One

When God Was a RabbitThe Poison TreeThe Summer of the BearThe Death Instinct

After attempting to read Richard and Judy’s last selection of books I stated that I would no longer be following their suggestions with the dedication that I used to. So the big question is: Have they improved?

I was disappointed to see that Richard and Judy are continuing to come up with unoriginal choices; both Jed Rubenfeld and Bella Pollen have had previous books on the original TV show (Bella Pollen’s Hunting Unicorns in 2004 and Jed Rubenfeld’s The Interpretation of Murder in 2007). I didn’t find either of these books particularly entertaining and so I’m not very excited about reading The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeldor The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen. -2

The only book from the list that I’ve read is When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman which I found original and entertaining. I think this is a fantastic choice and I am really pleased that this debut novel will reach a wider audience. +1

 The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons sounds like an interesting read, but I think it will be too charming for me and so I won’t be reading it. 0

I have wanted to read The Poison Tree by Erin Kellyever since I first heard about it on Steph and Tony Investigate. I have a copy here and so will read it next time I’m in the mood for a thriller. +1

The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn sounded interesting and so I attempted to read a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the writing style grated on me so I gave up very quickly. -1

The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller is another book that I’m interested in reading. I have a copy here, but it hasn’t quite made it to the top of the pile yet. +1

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen is the only book that I hadn’t heard of when the list was announced. I still know very little about it, but for now I’ll take that as a positive. +1

Total score: +1

The TV Book Club 2011 Summer Reads

The LanternThe Hidden ChildMoonlight MileA Visit From the Goon Squad

Night RoadThe RadleysThe Book of Human SkinGrace Williams Says it Loud

I don’t normally enjoy books containing vampires but numerous positive reviews have added The Radleys by Matt Haig to my wishlist. This is a book I plan to try before the TV series begins. +1

I wasn’t a big fan of Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson, but it is an original debut so I’m happy to see it on this list. +1

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrensonis a book I hadn’t heard of before this list was revealed. That is what shows like this are supposed to do. +1

Night Road by Kristin Hannahdoesn’t look like a very original book, but I haven’t read it so will give it the benefit of the doubt. 0

The Hidden Childby Camilla Lackberg is a book in translation – I can’t possibly complain about that! +1

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane seems like a fairly typical thriller, but I have always wanted to read some Lehane. I probably wont read this one, but I don’t feel I can deduct a point for its selection. 0

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer prize, but it hasn’t received that much attention here in the UK. It will divide opinion, but I think that will make a very interesting discussion on the show. +1

The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric captured my attention from the moment I read the title. I don’t know anything else about it, but I do know I want to read it. +1

Total Score: +6


Richard and Judy: +1

TV Book Club: +6

Richard and Judy do seem to have improved their selection, but they are still failing to pick titles that excite me. Time and again The TV Book Club are outshining them with lists that I am really interested in reading/discussing. I think both could benefit from picking some titles from smaller publishers and a wider range of books in translation, but I shouldn’t complain too much – anything that persuades reluctant readers to pick up a few extra books is a good thing.

Long may they continue to pick books that we can all read and discuss together!

What do you think of the book club selections?

Which is your favourite list?

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  1. tbh none of them interest me that much

    you should read some Lehane although i’ve heard that Moonlight Mile isn’t very good

    1. Jackie says:

      Damned Conjuror, Shuttle Island is the book I’ve had my eye on. Thanks for the warning about Moonlight Mile – it definitely wont be my first Lehane.

      1. If you are going to read Shutter Island then just remember it’s supposed to be a homage to pulp novels. It has it’s downsides but I think a lot of criticism of the book centred on the outrageous of it and that was kind of the point. Although I didn’t think it was very good, the film is better. Just imagine Bernard Herrmann’s music when you’re reading it.

  2. Steph says:

    I hope you enjoy The Poison Tree! It isn’t the best thriller I’ve ever read, but it is quite gripping and fun; good for the summer, I think! I will be curious to hear your thoughts on it as you are a fan of Tana French and Sophie Hannah.

    I want to read The Radleys too! And you know that I’m not at all interested in vampires… But Teresa over at Shelf Love wrote that it was a fun little book and I picked up an ARC on a whim so I do think I will try it.

    I think I agree that the TV Book Club’s selections look the most interesting to me. And since great minds think alike, the only two I’d have no real interest in exploring are the Hannah and the Lehane! Everything else looks really interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, Gripping and fun is exactly what I look for on some occasions (normally long journeys on public transport) so I am looking forward to reading The Poison Tree.

      I hated the idea of The Radleys when it first came to my attention, but I have since seen so many positive reviews that my opinion has been changed. Next time I spot a copy in the library I’ll be taking it home. :-)

  3. Fiona says:

    Regular reader of your excellent blog. First time commenting. Dennis Lehane is an excellent writer but this is not his best book. It is part of a series and is a kind of continuation of Gone Baby Gone, which Ben Affleck made into a film. The Camilla Lackberg book is the fifth of a series. I have read the previous four in the series and have enjoyed them. However I don’t know if you need to read the other books before reading The Hidden Child. I think the publishers must be trying to push this book as the rest of her books were released in hardback first but this is going straight to paperback and the last book The Gallows Bird was only published in hardback in January.
    Of the other books loved When God was a rabbit and also enjoyed Grace Williams.

    1. Jackie says:

      Fiona, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time!

      Thank you for the warning about the books in the middle of a series. That is a big bugbear of mine and I was annoyed that I let myself be persuaded to read The Snowman out of sequence last year. I should deduct a few points from the TV Book Club for including books in the middle of a series. I’ll ensure I start with 1st Camilla Lackberg book if I get around to reading her.

  4. LizF says:

    Do read Dennis Lehane, he writes a very good thriller, but if I were you I would read his Gone Baby Gone first as it covers events which lead up to those covered in Moonlight Mile.
    Don’t dismiss The Summer of the Bear, it’s quite different from Hunting Unicorns and I found it a really enjoyable read although I expect a lot of your commenters will feel it a little too middle-brow for them (although Mariella Frostrup likes it too!)
    I enjoyed the Anna Quindlen – quite Jodi Picoult-esque but then I like her as well!
    These book clubs are aimed more at the sort of people (like me) who read for enjoyment rather than the literati so it gets a bit irritating when they fulfill every stereotype about people who read by being snobbish about anything that isn’t Jane Austen or James Joyce!
    Sorry for the rant Jackie – I just genuinely feel that it shouldn’t really matter what you read so long as you DO read and literary elitism is very annoying!

    1. Jackie says:

      “I just genuinely feel that it shouldn’t really matter what you read so long as you DO read”
      I agree with you. I love these book clubs for the way they include the majority of the population – encouraging everyone to read and discuss books together.

      It is nice to know that Anna Quindlen reminds you of Jodi Picoult. I have only read My Sister’s Keeper, but I was a big fan. I’ll keep an eye out for a few more reviews and see if it still appeals in a few months time.

      Thanks for the advice about The Summer of the Bear. I guess I’m just annoyed that R&J chose another book by an author they’ve already supported and its no real reflection of the book’s quality.

  5. Ellie says:

    Other than When God Was A Rabbit, I much prefer the TV Book Club list. It’s nice to see The Radleys on there as it’s something a bit different. I will probably have to read A Visit from the Goon Squad as so many people have been talking about it already.

    I think I have The Book of Human Skin on one of my many sprawling wishlists.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ellie, It sounds as though similar books are calling to us. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on the books if you decide to read any of them :-)

  6. Annabel says:

    I rather like both lists, but think the TV Book Club has it on balance.

    I’m reading ‘Viola’ at the mo – only a couple of chapters in so too early to say, but I have good vibes about it. I also have 4 others from R&J, and would like to read ‘The Poison Tree’, not interested in Bella Pollen or Jed Rubenfeld though.

    I loved ‘The Radleys’, and would like to read all of the other TV Book Club choices except the Kristin Hannah. I have the Book of Human Skin, started but couldn’t get into it a couple of months ago, so will try again soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I’m sorry to hear that you couldn’t get into The Book of Human Skin. I’ll be interested to see if you have more success with it at a later date.

      The Radleys is calling to me more and more each minute. At this rate I’ll have to go and get a copy from the library tomorrow! I am looking forward to the new TV Book Club series. :-)

  7. Jo says:

    Difficult to call really – I think elements of both choices appeal to me and I have some of the R&J books waiting to be read, but not because they were R&J choices but because I had read and hear a lot about them.

    I think perhaps the TV Book Club has the advantage of getting a wider audience, despite not being on mainstream C4 initially. Whilst I think that R&J sold out joining WHSmiths. I rarely go in one and cannot remember the last time I bought a book from one.

    I agree with you, whatever gets people reading more has to be a good thing?

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, I am surprised by how many of the books I am aware of already and quietly pleased that all the ones I want to read are already on my wishlist. Blogging is a far better way of coming across the good books than waiting for one of these book club lists to appear, but at least they are here for those who haven’t discovered blogs yet. :-)

  8. Meghan says:

    This is a tricky one for me as I’d pick and choose from both lists! I’ve not really been interested by the first in the stores, I must admit. When God Was a Rabbit is a title that has captivated me and I really want to read it, and I loved Natasha Solomons’ last book (although I do agree with your assessment – I don’t think her books are for you, they are very charming). Captain John Emmett also interests me from that list. The rest are fairly ‘eh’.

    The second one has another few winners – The Radleys is good, I really want to read A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Book of Human Skin. But I hated the one of Kristin Hannah’s books I tried, so not all good there either! On balance though, I think I do prefer the second one, as more books look interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, It sounds as though similar books are jumping out at us. I’m sure you’ll enjoy When God Was a Rabbit so I hope that you get the chance to give it a try. I’ll also be watching out for your thoughts on The Book of Human Skin – I hope that you like it. :-)

  9. I was pleasantly surprised how many of the titles were familiar to me! I’ve read three (I loved A Visit from the Goon Squad, really liked When God Was a Rabbit and really didn’t like Every Last One–I’m in the minority on that one, but it was too over-the-top schmaltzy for me.) I have John Emmett and Grace Williams on my TBR summer pile too. I do wish there were a U.S. equivalent!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I remember a time when I excitedly waited for the Richard and Judy list and all the titles were new to me. It is amazing what blogging does for you :-) Hopefully you’ll get a US equivalent sometime soon – I’m sure someone will step up to fill Oprah’s shoes sooner or later.

  10. I have read only one book from either list (Bella Pollen and Matt Haig). I was rather indifferent about The Summer of the Bear but loved The Radleys. So that’s one point for the TC Book Club.

    Otherwise, there are books on either list that look interesting. So, no preference. But I’m not planning to read all of one list – I’ll take the special offers at Waterstone’s and Tesco’s when I’m in the country. :-)

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, It is good to know that my initial reaction to The Summer of the Bear is confirmed by you. We have similar tastes so I won’t be rushing out to try it. I’m sure there’ll be loads of special offers on these books soon (if not already!) so you won’t have to look too far when you’re over here. :-)

  11. Stephanie says:

    I am not familiar with Richard & Judy, but I must say that I really enjoy your posts about their book selections. Personally, the only book on there that truly interests me is The Poison Tree. I look forward to hearing what you think about it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, The Poison Tree is probably the one I’ll get to first (unless The Radleys happens to be in the library next time I go) I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll enjoy it. :-)

  12. stujallen says:

    Its a bit of a supermarket list Jackie out of them all one in translation ,Know friend that loved when god was a rabbit ,but to me non really grab me as ones I d run to shop and buy ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I think getting titles into the supermarket is the whole idea. These are the books that the general public will be forced to walk past all summer and so these are the titles they are more likely to buy than any other. I am sad that there is only one book in translation, but there is a better range here than in the past.

  13. JoV says:

    The beauty of reading your blog is that, Jackie, you are more updated than The Guardian! lol :D

    Thanks for the update I have been meaning to check out what’s out there for summer read this post of yours summarised it so beautifully with your green and red ratings. Big thanks for this!

    I have two of Camilla Lackberg’s books, The Preacher and Ice Princess, so I’m curious about the Hidden child. Other than that I’m most intrigued with God is a Rabbit and may at some point pick this up! I agree with Stu it’s a supermarket / WH Smith list but I can pick and choose what I want to read!

    I agree that the TV book club made a better choice.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Thanks for the kind words about my blog, but I think that only reflects the slowness of the Guardian and not my speed. These books have been around for a few days so I haven’t exactly rushed out to post this.

      I haven’t read any Camilla Lackberg, but I am tempted to try the first in the series now – I’m always on the look out for a good new thriler. Enjoy browsing through them in your local supermarket ;-)

  14. Amused says:

    I can’t get enough of summer reading lists. I book over them but I agree, the second choice does seem the more varied and interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Amused, I enjoy browsing all book lists :-) I look forward to discovering more about these books as time goes on.

  15. Interesting summer reading recommendations. I’ve only read Every Last One and Moonlight Mile, and I wasn’t thrilled about either.

    I realize summer reads tend to be more fluff, but when i want something lighter, I’ll generally turn to thrillers or mysteries.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t impressed by either of them – that is the big danger with books like this. It is so hard to find lighter reads that are still satisfying/enjoyable. Thrillers are generally a better bet, but I tend to find a lot of them disappoiniting too. :-(

  16. sakura says:

    I’m with you on this one Jackie. Lots of books I want to read from The TV Book Club selection especially The Radleys.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sakura, I couldn’t resist any longer and so got a copy of The Radleys from the library – I hope it is as good as everyone says it is.

  17. Jessica says:

    The TV Book Club normally features about 3/4 books that I want to read and the above are no exception. They seem to do much more of a balance than R&J and cater for more different readers.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, Yes, I don’t expect to enjoy all the books mentioned and like to see something to suit different people. The TV Book Club seems to have a better range and I’m sure everyone will enjoy at least one of their books. R&J seem to be catering for a single individual, so people will either love/hate all of them.

  18. Jenners says:

    I would go with the TV Book Club picks. There were more on there that interested me!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Amazing how many people seem to be favouring the TV book club list.

  19. I have to say I feel a bit fifty fifty on them both. In fact if you merged them and had; When God Was A Rabbit, The Novel in the Viola, Every Last One,The Return of Captain John Emmett, The Hidden Child, Grace Williams Says It Loud, The Radleys and The Book of Human Skin… it might just almost be one perfect selection.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, Fifty fifty is good. It sounds as though you are a lot happier with the lists than I am. I’d prefer to create my own list from scratch and would probably only include one or two of the selections if I did that. Will have to read a few and see which ones get my approval. :-)

      1. Funny you should mention starting something like this from scratch, there is a little project coming on Savidge Reads in the next few weeks that might not be a million miles off that idea tee-hee.

  20. Beth F says:

    The second list has more that interests me.

  21. I really want to read both, When God Was A Rabbit and Grace Williams Says It Out Loud. I’ll be reading Egan next, and I can’t wait to start it – it sounds fantastic.

    Honestly, over the last few months, I’ve stopped following book clubs and awards recently, as I want to go back to the basics and read the classics and books that have been around since forever. I’ve missed doing that, so it would be nice to just read non-contemporary books for a while.

    That said, from your little blurbs, The Poison Tree also intrigues. *sigh*

  22. Kathleen says:

    Sadly, I’ve only read one of the books so can’t really comment on the list. The Death Instinct is okay but I certainly wouldn’t have picked it to read over all of the other possibilities out there. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on it, if you do end up reading it.

  23. I haven’t read any of the titles yet, but your post has definitely helped push me towards the TV Book Club list – now all I need to do is decide where to start on that!

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