Can You Beat The Judges?
Meet the twelve book clubs selected to officially shadow the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction judging panel following this year’s shortlist announcement.
This year the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, in partnership with The Reading Agency, invited book clubs from all over the UK to nominate themselves to officially shadow this year’s judging process.
From twenty-strong gatherings to far-flung friends preferring to ‘tweet-up’ via social channels we whittled entrants to twelve brilliant reading groups from across the UK that are sure to inspire you. Each group will be reading one of this year’s shortlisted books, posting their reviews on social media and, ultimately, choosing their own winner.
Read on to meet these passionate ambassadors of reading for pleasure and follow them on social media to see which of the shortlisted books they are reading and reviewing.
1. BOOK AND BREW, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
Book and Brew is a five-woman book club from Newcastle upon Tyne. Since January 2015, we’ve met once a month to discuss a mixture of modern and classic fiction. The group has broad tastes, from magic realism and historical fiction to potboiler thrillers and fantasy, but always enjoys stories about strong women and their adventures through life. Follow them on their blog, Twitter and Instagram.
2. SPREAD THE WORD VOLUNTEERS, LONDON
Spread the Word is London’s literature development organisation. We celebrate, support and advocate for the diversity of London’s writers and connect them with readers and audiences. Since its inception, Spread the Word has had a strong volunteer base of writers and readers that support the organisation in running large events and projects. Follow them on Twitter @stwevents.
3. MUCH ADO ABOUT BOOKS, HILLINGDON
We are a Hillingdon based book group, who meet at a local coffee shop on a Sunday morning once a month clutching mugs of coffee and cups of tea. We are a group of women and one brave man who read a variety of different books and choose a book that one of us has loved, or novels that we would not usually choose to read ourselves. We work in theatre, marketing, audio visual services and psychology, and there is always a lively debate! We enjoy going to local author events, swapping books and two of us are regular bloggers. We enjoy discussing our thoughts with each other in person and on social media and would love to ‘meet’ other like-minded book groups online too! Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
4. WINE, WOMEN AND WORDS, LONDON
We are extremely honoured and excited to be shadowing Baileys Prize again. Shadowing in 2015 was a highlight for us and we totally immersed ourselves in last year’s book. As a group of well-read, like-minded women, we started our club some six years ago when we met through the school playground. It all began because we wanted to get together and talk about books as well as put the world to rights over a glass of wine (or two).We meet monthly and relish the opportunity to discuss what we have read. What is fascinating is that every book we read touches each of us in a different way and we always enjoy discussing our perspectives and thoughts with each other. Follow Wine, Women and Words on Twitter and Instagram.
5. ISSIE’S BOOK GROUP, BERKSHIRE
The group has been going for 14 years. We work in teaching, IT, publishing, charity, corporate and journalism and we all share a love of books, and we also share a lot of fun. We meet once a month to discuss a book, which we pick in turn. At the end of the year we celebrate with a book of the year and hard-fought awards such as: best character, best cover, least likeable character, author most likely to read again etc. We like to go on outings to stage and film versions of books we have read and we all did the Moonwalk last year in memory of one of the founders of the book club. We’ve been to the Hay Literary Festival and appeared on a TV magic show with Katherine Mills, using one of our book club books. We read classics as well as new publications and, while we don’t always agree, we enjoy lively discussions. Follow their progress on Twitter and Instagram.
6. HOUGHTON BOOK GROUP, CUMBRIA
As a reading group, we meet in the ‘Near Boot’ once a month and read and discuss a title borrowed from the fantastic Cumbria Libraries Reading Group Service. Alongside that we often get involved with activities run or co-ordinated by The Reading Agency. We have followed the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for several years now and attended events at Carlisle library, and held our own Prize Night parties. The main purpose of Houghton Reading Group is for people who enjoy reading to connect with like-minded individuals and have some fun along the way. Follow their blog and Instagram to stay in the loop.
7. HAGGERSTON, LONDON
We’re a local women’s book club in Haggerston, East London reading all kinds of fiction in kitchens, living rooms and bars while our children have been growing up. We meet monthly and take it in turns to choose our reads. Over the past year some of our favourites have been Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love and Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. We also organise book- related events, such as seeing Brooklyn at our local cinema and going to hear authors reading from their work, most recently Amy Liptrot reading from The Outrun. We have several members who have moved away but still read the books and stay in touch. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.
8. GLOUCESTERSHIRE LIT LOVERS, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
We are a group of 10 women living in rural Gloucestershire. We have been the Gloucestershire Lit Lovers and Yummy Scrummy Pudding club for over 4 years now and meet monthly. We mostly read modern fiction, and we mostly cook and eat pudding. (Although we are also partial to a decent cheese board.) We loved shadowing the Bailey’s Prize in 2015 and can’t believe our luck that we will be doing it again this year. It is a fantastic opportunity to read and review some of the best new books available. Find them on Twitter @glos_litlovers and on their blog.
9. HILLINGDON LIBRARIES STAFF READING GROUP
We’re a group of library staff with an eclectic taste in books all working for the library service in the London Borough of Hillingdon. A few of us have been involved in running reading groups in our libraries over the last few years but we made the decision a few months ago that we wanted our own staff reading group. We currently have 10 core members who meet on a monthly basis to talk about books & reading plus there is normally a cocktail or two drunk at our meetings. We are really excited to be given the opportunity to shadow the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction and looking forward to discussing our shortlisted title. Follow their progress on Twitter and Instagram.
10. THE BOOZY BOOK CLUB, EAST KILBRIDE
We are a relatively new book club, set up in 2016 and located in East Kilbride, near Glasgow. We are a group of busy mums who love reading, but never seemed to have the time to dedicate to it. We decided to set up the book club to give us an outlet for chatting about our favourite reads in a relaxed environment (away from the children!) We meet every 4-6 weeks (depending on our hectic schedules!) to discuss our chosen book – usually over a glass of wine …hence the name of our book club! We read all genres and try to mix genera between meetings so we read a wide range of literature. Our discussions are usually lively as we all have such different reading styles, which always make for a fun night. We are over the moon to be chosen to shadow the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 and look forward to sharing our views on Ruby with you all. Follow The Boozy Book Club on Twitter and Facebook.
11. DAUBENEY READS, LONDON
A group of housemates and ex-housemates from all over Europe who meet at our house in Hackney to discuss books and share food. We’re really excited about being part of the Baileys Prize shadowing and can’t wait to read A Little Life. Follow their progress on Twitter and Instagram.
12. BATH LIBRARY READING GROUP, BATH
We meet once a month on Tuesday evenings and reads a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles as chosen by the group members. Recent reads have included Emma Healey’s ‘Elizabeth is Missing’, Michael Frayn’s ‘Skios’ and Catherine Bailey’s ‘The Secret Rooms’. The group has been running for well over a decade and there are still a number of original members in keen attendance. Bath Library Reading Group shadowed the 2007 Man Booker Prize and is very excited to be shadowing the Baileys Prize this year. Discussion is always lively in this group and we can’t wait to dive into Baileys list. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.
Whether your book club is a monthly meet-up, a chat over drinks or a virtual meeting of minds, get involved this year by reading the 2016 shortlist and tell us your views on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.