Reading Group Recommendations August 2022

This month’s meeting was a chance for our group members to talk about their summer reads, and to recommend books to their colleagues. Read on for some books to add to your list- if you’re anything like us you’re always looking for new titles, despite having far too many already on your wish list!

Book cover for Poison Sky by Paul McNeivePoison Sky – Paul McNeive. An easy read with a believable plot and believable characters. Probably not the best read if you are just about to go on a flight somewhere! You know who is responsible right from the start but the investigation to catch the “gangs” is well thought out. Our reader hadn’t read anything by the author before but will look up some more titles “when I bring my every growing list down”.



Book cover for No Shame by Tom AllenNo Shame– Tom Allen. The autobiography of the popular comedian, our reader was convinced there was no ghost writer involved as the book’s language is as eloquent as he appears on TV. This account of his childhood and family details his struggles with being gay and feeling different from his peers. He gravitated more towards adults than other children attending his comprehensive school in Bromley and spent his later teenage years dressed in a Dickens style. A recommendation, our reader found it both funny and sad.


 Book cover for The Sanitorium by Sarah PearseBook cover for The Promise by Daniel Galgut.The Sanitorium– Sarah Pearse. A much appreciated birthday gift, this wasn’t a book our reader would otherwise have chosen, this title aligns itself with Agatha Christie. Our reader enjoyed its twists and turns.

The Promise– Damon Galgut. Set in South Africa during apartheid, and the Booker Prize winner in 2021, this tells the story of a white girl who overhears her mother promising a house to a black maid on her death. The promise is ignored and the story follows subsequent generations and the repercussions of the broken promise.


DCI Grace series– Peter James. Our reader went rogue and started off reading number 10 in the series, so had to backtrack. A series of enjoyable crime reads, with a separate crime in each novel, there’s an overarching story of the investigator running through them all.

Book cover for Before we say goodbye by Louise Candlish.


Before We Say Goodbye- Louise Candish. Our reader picked this up because they’d enjoyed a novel (Our House) by the same author that we’d read for the reading group. Unfortunately they didn’t think this earlier novel was a good and described it as a bit clunky.


Book cover for The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.The Reader– Bernhard Schlink. Read in English translated from the original German, this reader recommended a book they chose to read following their teenager studying it in the original language for German A-level. The narrator is a 15 year old boy having an affair with a 30 year old woman. Later, as a law student the narrator observes a holocaust trial where his former lover is a defendant. Seen as controversial for letting Germany off the hook for the holocaust, the novel was made into a film starring Kate Winslet.


Book cover for The call of the weird by Louis Theroux.The Call of the Weird- Louis Theroux. Our resident Louis Theroux fan recommended this book of his American stories as a funny and easy read. She also recommended a Louis Theroux pillowcase, but we’re not sure that’ll be added to many of our wish lists! The book is available in the William Harvey Library Time Out collection for anyone whose interest is piqued.


Book cover for The Eyre affair by Jasper Fforde.The Eyre Affair– Jasper Fforde. A re-read for our reader, we heard about Thursday Next who works for the literary detectives. Thursday has the ability to go in and out of books to change stories and has a pet dodo, so it’s not surprise that the books are recommended as brilliantly silly.

A Place of Execution and Out of Bounds– Val McDermid. Chosen from William Harvey Library’s Time Out collection to read during a 2-week break, our reader enjoyed these crime books. Set in the Peak District, the subject matter was dark, but the books were an easy read. Despite being a little bit formulaic “wallpaper for the brain” these were still great holiday reads.


Book cover for The world according to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith.The World According to Bertie– Alexander McCall Smith. One of the 44 Scotland Street series by the author of the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency, this was chosen this as a lighter read between heavier tomes.  Set in Edinburgh it is a funny and poignant account of the complex characters that live in the street. Our reader felt that towards the end the tone was patronising and that put a dampener on their enjoyment.


Book cover for The lie by Helen Dunmore.The Lie– Helen Dunmore. Our reader hasn’t yet finished this book and yet was keen to recommend it as a future read for the reading group. Examining the return to Cornwall post World War I of a soldier, and his struggle to return to normal life, this book is compelling and hard to put down.


Book cover for It's all in your head: Stories from the frontline of psychosomatic illness by Suzanne O'Sullivan.It’s All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness– Suzanne O’Sullivan. Borrowed from William Harvey Library’s Wellbeing collection, this was a thought-provoking book about how the mind can affect the physical body. It won the prestigious Wellcome Book Prize.


Book cover for Joshua's story by James Titcombe.Joshua’s Story– James Titcombe. Again this was borrowed from the George Eliot Library collection, and deals with the Morecambe Bay NHS scandal. Our reader described the book as very sad, but also fascinating to read how the scandal developed and its effect on the NHS.


 Book cover for The dictionary of lost words by Pip WIlliams.


The Dictionary of Lost Words– Pip Williams. This is a celebration of words.  Esme is a girl who collects the words not allowed into the first dictionary and makes her own dictionary in a male oriented world. If you’d like to read this one, it’s available from the Time Out Collection at William Harvey library.

Confessions of a 40 something F up– Alexandra Potter. Billed by our reader a s perfect beach read, our reader told us how funny this book was. It’s been billed as the new Bridget Jones!


Book cover for Flight of the nighthawks by Raymond E Feist.Flight of the Nighthawks– Raymond E Feist. Recommended by our fantasy fiction fan, this is the first in a series wet within the fictional world of Midkemia. As always with Feist novels, this is a full on fantasy-fest with a map at the front, plenty of magic and a ripping plot.

Book cover for The appeal by Janice Hallett.


The Appeal– Janice Hallett.  A murder mystery with a difference, the format of this book is what stands out  Using emails, texts, reports and post-it notes instead of chapters, we follow along as two trainee lawyers solve a mystery.


Those are our recommendations! It’s quite a list, but with such variety there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Have you added any new books to your to-read list? Let us know! If you’d like to borrow any of the titles identified as being in stock at the William Harvey Library, either pop in to the library if you’re on the George Eliot site, or visit the library at SWFT where you’ll be able to request the book be sent across for you to borrow.

If you’ve finished your summer read and don’t know what to do with the book, pass it on to the library! We’re always happy to accept donations for our Time Out collection.

Book cover for How to kill your best friend by Lexie Elliott.Our next reading group book is How to Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott. Described as breathtakingly twisty-turny, get in touch if you’d like to borrow a copy. or




Poster with a beach background. Blue sky with white clouds covers the top third of the page, brighter blue sea covers the middle third and yellow sand covers the bottom third. Two green and brown palm trees are to the right and left centre with a pile of brightly coloured books in the right bottom corner. The text reads: Finished your summer read? Donate it to the library! Our Time Out collection relies on your book donations and is free for all staff to use. Contact or drop off your books in person.