Welcome back to our semi-regular feature on the titles in our Reading Group Collection. Today, we bring you some of the recent reviews we’ve had from groups throughout Warwickshire and a quick look at some of the titles we’ve recently added to the Collection.

We love hearing the thoughts of the groups who use our Reading Group Collection and try to get as many as we can either in blog posts such as this or as reviews on our catalogue. If you’re part of a reading group and you want to share what you thought of a particular title, you can add your reviews too – log in, find the title and leave us a review!

The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Freemantle

This title was selected by a group in Bishops Tachbrook who felt that it generated a good discussion for their meeting. Although most felt that they knew about the time period in which the book is set (the Tudor period), there were some elements of the story that led to googling of information to see where the story, its characters and the event ‘fit’. Discussions focussed on the social history covered in the book and the group came to a decision that it was best not to have been a woman during this time period! Overall, the group felt this was thought-provoking book and would recommend it to other groups to try.

All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

One of our Rugby-based groups reported that this book was well liked amongst their members. Everyone enjoyed the depictions of rural life of the 1930s. There were beautiful descriptions of traditional farming methods, lots of wild life and farming activities which the group enjoyed reading, especially during lockdown. The books wasn’t all sunshine though – Edie’s journey is a sad one and topics such as mental health are covered, along with a look at the social and political issues raised during the 1930s. The group felt this was an excellent book for a reading group and were pleased to be able to share it via a Zoom session they organised – the first one they had attempted and which went “quite well”.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The thoughts of a group based in Warwick: “This book was very well-received by all of us. We were initially apprehensive, wondering what horrors of the Syrian conflict we could cope with. However, despite terrible loss and sadness, the hope, love and beauty shone through this story, aided by the wonderful prose and, of course, by the story of the bees. We’d definitely recommend it. The reader is reminded of the tragic lives other people in this world endure but also it gives an insight into a different culture which we can learn from. Subject matter isn’t easy but the prose was very readable.”

The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma

A group in Alcester sent a mixed review of this title to us – in general, members felt this was an interesting book written from an African perspective. Not everyone enjoyed it and some members didn’t finish it but others found it a thought-provoking read. They admired the loyalty and tenacity of some of the family members. The group’s verdict on whether they would recommend this to other readers was that this is a book that probably not everyone would enjoy so they would be mindful of who they would recommend it to, though anyone interested in exploring other cultures and the lives of people in other countries would certainly find this an interesting read.

Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

We’ve had two reviews from different groups for this title recently and each shows how a single title can be read in different ways by different readers. Reviews included “too long and wordy!”, “in the style of CJ Sansom – got to be good”, “gripping plot” and “a good read once it gets going”. It seems that this title is one that could appeal to many different tastes and covers lots of subjects. It’s also a debut novel so if your group like reading first novels, this would be a good pick. It also won the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown, was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, and a Guardian and Telegraph novel of the year – maybe one to try?

The Long, Long, Life of Trees by Fiona J Stafford

Although the group that sent in their review of this title weren’t able to meet due to the lockdown, they still shared their thoughts with us. This is a book for nature lovers that can be dipped into a chapter at a time. The descriptions, history and stories were very well done. Some of the group found the book harder to get into and they felt that would make it more difficult to discuss. We wonder what your group will make of it?

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

A group from Shipston sent us a wonderfully long review that started by letting us know they had carried on their group sessions electronically and that this book had divided the group. Half enjoyed it, half didn’t. On the positive side, they felt the novel was written with a good sense of time. It covers several decades and each was bought alive. Characters were likable and the storytelling with the odd twist kept people reading. One person felt the book gave a good insight into relationships and bereavement (topical for the time). Less positively, not all the members of the group felt empathy with the characters – some seemed aimless. The ending was also criticised – it seemed insubstantial to some, unbelievable to others. Overall though, the group would recommend this title as they feel that books that some readers like and some readers don’t lead to better book group discussions full of debate and differing views.

We have also added some additional titles to our Reading Group Collection in recent months – here are some of the highlights:

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan  

The Confession by Jessie Burton 

Breaking & Mending by Joanna Cannon 

Furious Hours by Casey Cep 

The River Capture by Mary Costello 

On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming 

The Lamplighter by Jackie Kay 

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane  

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy  

The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes 

Inland by Tea Obreht  

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett 

The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis  

10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World by Elif Shafak  

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 

We hope that’s given you some ideas if you’ve been browsing, wondering what to pick for your next group pick. We realise that at the moment, some reading groups may not be meeting, some may be reading but not meeting, some may be using technology to keep book discussions going and others will have found intriguing ways to stay in touch and share their thoughts on the books they have been reading.

Groups registered in Warwickshire can still request their sets and collect from our libraries, though please do check our website to find out about using the Reading Group Collection at this time. You’ll also find the opening times of our libraries and other important information you need to know.

Don’t forget, you can also access our BorrowBox library and in particular, our ‘Listen/Read Now, No Waiting’ titles. These are ideal for reading groups as they multiple people can download the title at the same time. These do change periodically so if you have seen one you think would suit your group, make sure everyone downloads it as soon as possible. You’ll find that some titles will be available as both eBooks and on eAudio, giving you a wide variety of formats and titles to choose from.

If you have any queries about the Reading Group Collection or about our library services in general, you can contact us by email: libraryenquiryteam@warwickshire.gov.uk.

Don’t forget you can also subscribe to both our main library newsletter and to receive updates about the Reading Group Collection – find out how to do that here – so you’re up to date on everything you need to know about using Warwickshire Libraries.

Happy reading!