Monday, 16 September 2013

Richard and Judy bookclub books 2003-2009 - how we were influenced

I was thinking about book clubs the other day, you know the TV ones, and I couldn't help wondering how many people have been influenced by the marketing surrounding them. Now they may be very good, even excellent books, but without that massive marketing machine behind them, would they have enjoyed the success they have?  I think not.
Personally, I am not someone who needs recommendations for my next read; I'm always spoilt for choice, but I know people, friends in fact, who would always head for the book club stand in the local supermarket for their holiday reads. R&J effectively chose their books for them.

So, I thought I would go back in time and discovered there were many books from the Richard and Judy book club, which started almost a decade ago now, which I had read, without realising they were R&J picks. I should point out I didn't watch Richard and Judy's book club. Occasionally I might see a label in Tesco or wherever, indicating the book was part of R&J's choices, but that was all.  There's a link at the bottom of the page to all the Richard and Judy books over the years, but here are those I've read.

Brick Lane - Monica Ali - hmm, read it, it was all right.
Starter for Ten - David Nicholls - funny, but not as funny as I'd expected
Alice Sebold - The Lovely Bones (2004's winner) - loved this book, my favourite book of the year I read it (not necessarily 2004!)

on TBR list, but not yet got around to-
The Bookseller of Kabul - Asne Seierstad 
Lucia Lucia  - Adriana Trigiani (bought, but not yet read)

The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Jay Fowler -  I wanted to like this, but struggled.
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (2005 winner) - excellent book, but it took me about 200 pages before I got into it.

The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger -  loved this book - it was so original
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult - loved this book, but I had already read The Tenth Circle by Jodi and was hooked on her books.
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon. LOVE CRZ and have bought almost all his books now, including the kids ones and I went to hear him speak at the Edinburgh Book Festival - so down-to-earth!
WOW - what a list - each of those I've read are worthy of winning

Arthur & George - Julian Barnes (bought, not yet read)
The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly - am a big Michael C fan, but confess to being confused as to why such a mainstream, crime novel made the list.
The History of Love - Nicole Krauss - LOVED this book
Empress Orchid - Anchee Min (bought, not yet read)

Labyrinth - Kate Mosse - OH bought, I haven't read it yet (2006 winner)

Half of a Yellow Sun  - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (got it out the library, never got around to reading it)
The Interpretation of Murder - Jed Rubenfeld  (2007 winner) Loved this book and its follow up The Death Instinct.

Random Acts of Heroic Love - Danny Scheinmann  - I've either read this, or my aunt bought it and was meant to lend it to me. I've forgotten what it's about. Am going to download the Kindle sample, but I'm pretty sure I've read it and enjoyed it - I read so many books...
A Quiet Belief in Angels - R J Ellory - (bought, not yet read)

Notes from an Exhibition - Patrick Gale (got it out of the library, didn't get around to reading, but still want to!)
Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris - odd book
Visible World - Mark Slouka - loved, fabulous love story
Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones - loved
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini  (2007 winner) - one of my favourite books of all time.
This was the first year I remember actually looking at books which were on the Richard and Judy bookclub list and actively buying them. It was a good year.

2009 - none!

Here are all the Richard and Judy book club books

The summer bookclub lists will be covered separately, but hopefully this has given you food for thought. Would love to know which on the lists you liked, bought, hated, or have always meant to get around to reading.
Have a good week


  1. I'm not influence by R and J - but do look closely at the Orange prizewinning list (someone else is sponsoring this now, can't remember now) and the Booker, then read reviews and see if it's something I might enjoy. And I read reviews of first books in the weekend papers, looking for new writers.

    Most of all, I potter round the shelves of my local independent bookshop and see what I like the look of.

  2. I just dislike Richard & Judy so much that it's almost automatic NOT to read anything they recommend...... like Jo, I check the Man Booker and other prize lists...and read reviews in papers.

  3. The only one I've read on there is Starter for Ten, which I thought was pretty good; I've read it a couple of times. I'm not a great one for reading books that are the latest 'must reads' anyway - to me that's like the fashion victim-ness of the book world!!!! New favourite author discoveries? Tend to be recommendations from friends (mostly my sister, as we have the same taste), or accidents found in library. Since I've been twittering, though, also via tweets. What attracts me to them is the subject matter, though, not some quote saying 'I couldn't put it down'. My best discovery via Twitter has been Harry Leslie Smith's books - 1923 A Memoir, Hamburg 1947, and The Empress of Australia.

    I agree with Carol - a recommendation from Richard and Judy is likely to turn me the other way!

  4. Funny, looking back now, the book choices are actually a lot better than I remembered. At the time, I was a bit snobbish about some of the choices (too populist, bestsellerish etc.) and almost actively avoided them.