Book Club Bash

The blog is a little different this week. Instead of discussing a particular book we had a fantastic book club bash last night where we all talked about our best and worst books. I thought I would post a  the list in case you are looking for books to read or avoid in Lockdown.

Books to read or avoid in Lockdown

Madeleine really liked The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel – it is the third in the Wolf Hall series. She couldn’t get into the first one and started on this one and loved it. She also loved Silver Sparrow which was written by Tayari Jones the same author who wrote the suburb American Marriage which we have read in book club. The one she hated was Leaving of Atocha Station which seemed to be a common thread amongst attendees.

Anne-Marie loved The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett which tells the tale of two sisters separated – one who can is passed off as white and one who is brought up Afro American. She also loved Dancing in the Mosque – An Afghan Mother’s Letter to Her Son by Homeira Qaderi written by a refugee after fleeing Afghanistan. She also thought that Leaving of Atocha Station was the worst book she had read this year.

Marilyn said the best books she had read this year were The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – where a girl is stuck in purgatory and can choose books with different life paths and the Switch by Beth O’Leary about two people from different generations who change places. Very sensibly Marilyn said that she didn’t finish books she didn’t like so she didn’t have any worst books she had read.

Jane’s favourite was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This is one we have read in book club and everyone loved it. She also loved another book club read – The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. Other books that she suggested included Let the Great World Spin by Colum  McCann and Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The worst read was Little Fires Everywhere but as most said the TV series was much better than the book.

Rebeca’s best read of the year was Overstory by Richard Powers which was a book club read, she described it as ‘a piece of US history’. Like Jane she also loved Where the Crawdads Sing. Her worst was Gayle’s Secret by Michelle Harris.

Caroline as always had a wealth of books to recommend. They included, The Imortalists by Chloe Benjamin. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Unsheltered by Barbara Kingslover, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (mentioned in Overstory supra) and that great 80’s classic Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Her worst and I am sensing I was the only one who liked it was Leaving Atocha Station by Ben Lerner.

Yulia like many loved Maya Angelou’s I know why the Caged Bird Sings. She also recommended two of Elif Shafak’s books 10 minutes and 38 seconds and 40 Rules of Love. Her worst was Leaving Atocha Station (supra) and Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

Jo’s favourite was Three Women by Lisa Taddeo which just shows the diversity in the group. It can be someone’s worst and someone’s favourite. She also loved Normal People by Sally Rooney which I hated. I thought the lead character needed to be shaken into action. Books she hated included Leaving Atocha Station (supra), Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Broadesser- Akner which we all mumbled agreement to,  Queenie by Candice Carty Williams and finally the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Jo doesn’t like parting with her books but all of those are to go out to the charity shop.

Stuti like me loved  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. She also Loved our recent read Manual for a Decent Life by Kavita A Jindal. Another one she loved which we read a long long time ago in book club was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her worst book was Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I loved Shantaram but it is a very thick book, it is about shanty towns in India.

Lisa’s favourite was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. For discussion purposes her favourites were Three Women (supra) and Flieshman is in Trouble (supra). Her least favourite was American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins which Lisa described as ‘trauma porn’. She also could not get into Jane Fallon’s Queen Bee which is set in Hampstead. She would love book club to read more Anne Pachett and also Fates and Furies by Lauren Croff.

Millie’s favourites were American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and The Beekeeper of Aleppo (supra).  She would also recommend the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini which we all agreed we wanted on next years book list.

My three favourites where From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan, Atonement by Ian McKwan, and I know Why the Caged Bird Sings (supra). My least favourite were Overstory (supra) and Fleishman is in Trouble (supra).

Recommendations of TV shows

Recommended TV shows to watch included The Restaurant, Ethos, Trapped and Virgin River and Borgen, I think these are all on Netflix.

Clothing recommendations

Millie also recommended the Uniglo fleece lined leggings if you are getting cold on your walks.

Pilates Recommendation  

If you have stacked on the kilos over Christmas my friend Olivia is offering very reasonable online Pilates classes see She was bridesmaid at my wedding, is godmother to my children and is the nicest person you will ever meet. I think her classes are only about £8 a class for an hour. She is a fully qualified instructor.


The Ugly Dumpling can deliver frozen dumplings around Hampstead and London, they can be frozen for up to 6 months.  There are great flavours including desert ones.  The menu can be found here:  

Gin and Whiskey

For great gins and Whiskeys with free delivery in North London or to organise a virtual tasting contact Mike from Artisan Drinks on

Find Humour in the horror

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