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 copies of the book from us via the email link below (or email Mima on

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.

July 2024 At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple hops to London for a gifted break and is staying at the London hotel, Bertram’s. While there, she notices the most unusual of occurrences with the staff and guests and it seems something is afoot…

Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Davy is investigating a series of obnoxious and seemingly easy robberies and follows a trail that leads to Bertram’s. Disregarded as another doddery old lady, CI Davy does not realise quite how useful Miss Marple’s observations will be to cracking the case!

Thank you to our volunteers for choosing these titles and creating these resources.

July 2024 The Lost Boyz: A Dark Side of Graffiti by Justin Rollins

This autobiography tells a story of descent into a form of madness, in which self-destruction, anger, wanton behaviour and fear lie at the core. Aged just fourteen, and using the name ‘Sevens’, Rollins went from being a bullied child to leader of the Warriorz, a group of London street kids involved in graffiti-tagging and other crimes, including a series of violent encounters.

Foreword by Noel ‘Razor’ Smith: ‘He became a criminal not through any desire to get rich or become a ‘gangster’ but because he so easily slipped through the cracks of a society that, mainly through the influence of the tabloid media, was quick to demonise the young as predators and ‘lawless hoodies.’

Thank you to the author, Justin Rollins, for writing the discussion questions.

June 2024 The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Steaming with satire and dark humour, Karunatilaka crafts a mysterious story that simultaneously explores magical realism and the challenging realities of 1980s Sri Lanka…

Amidst the chaos of Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1989, war photographer Maali wakes up in the afterlife. Brimming with questions and anxieties as to how he died, time is running out for Maali to contact those he loves the most and guide them to boxes of unseen photos that will expose Sri Lanka’s corrupt politicians and perpetrators of bloody conflict.

Thank you to our volunteer Heidi for choosing this title and creating the resource.

June 2024 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the prequel to the much-loved Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. This book takes us back to the origin of the Hunger Games and follows President Snow’s early days, his vendetta against District 12, and the history of Panem.

Coriolanus Snow takes on the role of mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games and everything is at stake – his home, his education, his future. Everything that means anything to him is wound up in the success of his tribute, however, in the reaping he is assigned the female tribute from District 12. He pulled the short straw. Their destinies and survival become intertwined and ultimately both are willing to do whatever it takes to survive – to stay alive.

Adapted into a blockbuster film in 2023, starring Rachel Zegler.

May 2024 Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banjeree Divakaruni

Sister of My Heart follows the story of two girls bonded by the love of sisterhood. Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste family in Calcutta and her cousin Sudha is the daughter of a mysterious black sheep in the family. Their personalities are like day and night, but since the day they were born, they have been bonded in a way that even their mothers can’t understand.

The book follows the test of their bond, as they enter adulthood and are shattered with female secrets, arranged marriages, relocation, and motherhood.

Thank you to our volunteer Holly for choosing this title and creating the resource.

May 2024 The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany’s oldest city. So, when a man is found dead, with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. Solving the case may mean unearthing the city’s secret magical history… so long as that history doesn’t kill them first.

This is the seventh book in Ben Aaronovitch’s urban fantasy series, Rivers of London, which has been a popular choice by our groups. The author has been a special guest at one of our prisons.

Thank you to our reading group at HMP BURE for suggesting this book.

April 2024 One Day by David Nicholls

In this book, we return to the lives of Emma and Dexter on the same day every year for twenty years.

One Day was made into a film in 2011 staring Anne Hathaway and recently adapted into a Netflix series in 2024 staring Ambika Mod and Leo Woodhall.

Thank you to our volunteer Sophie for choosing this title and creating the resource.

April 2024 Sovietistan by Erika Fatland

Erika’s enlightening accounts of the five former ‘Stan’ Soviet republics encapsulate themes of mystery, wonder, and historical fact. Fatland’s openness towards the people she talks to and the places she sees is inspiring, as is the political geography mixed with everyday life that she observes.

What is truly uncovered is a new perspective of life in ‘Sovietistan’, which simultaneously entangles political history, culture and geology with the spirit of adventure.

Thank you to our volunteer Heidi for choosing this title and creating the resource.

Here are our previous Book Talk choices this year…

You are welcome to choose from any of these too.

March 2024 Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups. A random act of kindness catapults unassuming Richard from his ordinary life in London, into the chaotic, magical and dangerous world of London Below.

Richard has to learn to keep his wits about him, who his friends are, and finds himself in the middle of an adventure that will change him forever.  

Acclaimed BBC Radio 4 dramatisation with all-star cast including James McAvoy, Sophie Okonedo and Benedict Cumberbatch.

March 2024 Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

England, 1972. The operation code ‘Sweet Tooth’ names the MI5 project McEwan constructs that funds writers to write more novels with politics aligning with the government. As the Cold War brims with tension, Serena Frome – characterised by her love for novels – is recruited to intercept up-and-coming young writer Tom Haley and his literary circle.

McEwan’s work boils with wit, mystery, and entertaining dual identities creating a cunning narrative of subterfuge.

Thank you to Heidi for choosing this title and creating the resource.

February 2024 Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This book takes us to a small back alley in Tokyo where there is a cafe which has been serving coffee for more than 100 years. But this is not your ordinary coffee shop. This cafe allows customers to travel back in time. The journey to the past is not without risk, as with all wishes there are conditions: a particular chair, a particular time, and a mandate to return to the present before the coffee gets cold.

Toshikazu Kawaguchi tackles the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

Thank you to Holly for choosing this title and creating the resource.

February 2024 This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Co-written by two award winning writers, this novel follows two time-travelling agents through worlds and universes. They are rivals pitted against each other, Red from Agency and Blue from Garden. They are locked in a time war where there is only one way to end things. Watch their relationship transform in a series of secret letters and hidden meanings. It is a game of cat and mouse and a story of love, words, and art.

Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 2020.

Thank you to Ali for choosing this title and creating the resource.

January 2024 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

he Dark Is Rising Sequence is a series of five contemporary fantasy novels. The first book in the series, Over Sea, Under Stone, was originally conceived as a stand-alone novel. The second book The Dark is Rising is more well-known and the series is often called that.

Will Stanton is the main character of the second novel, he is the seventh son of a seventh son and his 11th birthday marks the beginning of his magical awakening and rise to power as the last of the Old Ones. The story tells how he comes to power and collects ‘signs’ to help him fight the The Dark.

Thank you to Ali for choosing this title and creating the resource.

January 2024 Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Late on a hot summer night in 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan.

Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery.

Thank you to our volunteer Anam for choosing this title and creating the resource.

Book Talk 2023, titles include –

West, Private Peaceful, The Whistleblower, The Woman in Black, Mayflies

Book Talk 2022, titles include –

Small Things Like These, Klara and the Sun, The Power of the Dog, Almond, The Offing

Book Talk 2021, titles include –

Things Fall Apart, House of Correction, On the Come Up, Elevation, Such a Fun Age

Book Talk 2020, titles include –

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Small Island, The Nickel Boys, A Christmas Carol