Join in Book Talk

Each month we add two new books, with accompanying resources, to Book Talk. Choose which title your group would like to read and then request up to 20 copies of the book from us via the email link below (or email Olivia on admin@prg.org.uk).

The books will be sent to you by post and you can hand out the books along with the resources sheet, which you can download below.

Once everyone has read the book and written some notes on the resources, you can collect in the responses and send them to us via post or scan, together with the facilitator feedback form. We will collate them into a discussion document like this, and hope you can then circulate this to the group, in a newsletter, or in the library.


April 2021

This month we are excited to have two very different choices for two different read-along experiences!

For World Book Night….

Join in with the World Book Night experience by reading this Stephen King novella in April. We will share feedback from the groups on Twitter on World Book Night (23rd April).

Elevation, by Stephen King

In the small town of Castle Rock word gets around quickly. That’s why Scott Carey only confides in his friend Doctor Bob Ellis about his strange condition. Every day he’s losing weight – but without looking any different.

Meanwhile a new couple, Deirdre and Missy, owners of a ‘fine dining experience’ in town, have moved in next door. Scott is not happy that their dogs keep fouling on his lawn.

But as the town prepares for its annual Thanksgiving 12K run, Scott starts to understand the prejudices his neighbours face. Soon, they forge a friendship which may just help him through his mysterious affliction…

You can read an extract here. This book is perfect for less confident readers too.


Or join in the read-along book club!

Set up by one of our volunteers, a virtual public reading group has been set up to read books alongside our prison groups. We will share feedback anonymously between the groups.

Lanny by Max Porter

‘Longlisted for the Booker Prize, Porter’s second novel is a fable, a collage, a dramatic chorus, a joyously stirred cauldron of words.’ – The Guardian

A child, a family, a village; a community built on ancient soil, shelter to generations of lives and the tales they tell. For all time, Dead Papa Toothwort has forever walked amongst them all. Now, he is drawn again from his slumber, drawn to something new and precious. The boy. Lanny.

Fusing the modern with the mythic and the prosaic with the polyphonic, Porter’s spare, spectral novel mines folklore, fable and the deep-dug tendrils of village life for something both age-old and vibrantly alive.


March 2021

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Be transported to a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th-century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.

Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two cultures converge. In a tale of integrity and corruption, passion and power, the key is control – of riches and minds, and over death itself.

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller, from the author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS.


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves the Thursday Murder Club.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

The debut novel from Richard Osman, presenter and producer of Pointless.


Here are our previous Book Talk choices…

You are welcome to pick from these choices too.

February 2021

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Set in the deep American South between the wars, The Color Purple is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation.

Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage.

But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

A great book to explore in LGBT+ History month.


My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

As smart and murderous as Killing EveMy Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…


January 2021

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize.

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die.

Across 1000 miles of Oregon desert his assassins, the notorious Eli and Charlies Sisters, ride – fighting, shooting, and drinking their way to Sacramento. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, the road is long and bloody, and somewhere along the path Eli begins to question what he does for a living – and whom he does it for.

“So good, so funny and so sad” Irish Times


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown up.


December 2020

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhikers Guide started as a BBC radio series in 1978. The first of the five novels was published in 1979 and there has also been a TV series and a 2005 feature film.

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a hyperspace
bypass, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For the last fifteen years, the alien Prefect has been posing as an out-of-work actor on earth.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Since it was first published in 1843 A Christmas Carol has had an enduring influence on the way we think about the traditions of Christmas.

One of Dicken’s most enduring and memorable characters, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miser, penny-pinching with no care for his own happiness or those of any others.

Then, one Christmas Eve, he is visited by three ghosts: the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. As they turn the clock back on Scrooge’s own life, it’s tragedies and misdemeanours, and reveal the shadow of the life that is yet to come, they reveal to him the true meaning of Christmas.

November 2020

Frank Sinatra Has a Cold by Gay Talese

A selection of witty and provocative essays from the father of New Journalism. Frank Sinatra in a pool hall, troubled by a cold, unable to sing and not in the best of moods; the boxer Floyd Patterson, gentle and dignified, haunted by the sense that he was always a loser; Fidel Castro being introduced to an ageing and infirm Muhammad Ali.

In these compulsively readable profiles one of America’s finest journalists lays bare the man behind the myth.


October 2020

Small Island by Andrea Levy

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do? Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It’s desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door.


True Grit by Charles Portis

There is no knowing what lies in a man’s heart. On a trip to buy ponies, Frank Ross is killed by one of his own workers. Tom Chaney shoots him down in the street for a horse, $150 cash, and two Californian gold pieces. Ross’s unusually mature and single-minded fourteen-year-old daughter Mattie travels to claim his body, and finds that the authorities are doing nothing to find Chaney. Then she hears of Rooster – a man, she’s told, who has grit – and convinces him to join her in a quest into dark, dangerous Indian territory to hunt Chaney down and avenge her father’s murder.


September 2020 – You are welcome to pick from these choices too.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

In this latest novel, following the Pulitzer Prize -winning The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
 
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors.


Northern Lights Book cover

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

The first volume in Philip Pullman’s groundbreaking His Dark Materials trilogy, is a timeless and truly magical journey.

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford.

The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world…

Go back to Book Talk home.