The Radio 2 Book Club is on Steve Wright In The Afternoon. Each month Steve will interview the chosen authors, as well as having brilliant guest stars and real-life listeners on the show to talk about the books too.
The Book Club showcases the best in brand-new fiction, from dazzling debuts to blockbuster bestsellers.
The Reading Agency, along with a team of librarians across the UK, help the BBC to choose the Book Club titles each month. Hundreds of the best brand-new fiction titles are submitted to us each year and are then read by our expert library readers, who select their favourites. The best books are shared with the BBC, and they choose the final picks for the Book Club.
“Books have boomed in lockdown, with thousands of people rediscovering the joy of reading, so it’s great news that the Radio 2 Book Club will move to afternoons where it will get the full bells and whistles Big Show treatment!”
The Book Club Selection
Every month a new book will be selected, and you can read about all of them below.
When Tova Sullivan’s husband died two years ago, she talked her way into a job mopping floors at Sowell Bay Aquarium. Keeping busy helps her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished.
Thirty and headlining for washed-up band Moth Sausage, Cameron Cassmore has some serious growing up to do. Then the discovery of an old class ring sends him on a mission to Sowell Bay to track down the father he’s never known.
Marcellus, a ‘prisoner’ at the Aquarium, wouldn’t lift one of his eight tentacles for his human captors until he forms a friendship with the cleaning lady. Keenly observant, but with time running out, Marcellus deduces that Cameron is a missing key to what happened the fateful night of Erik’s disappearance.
Now Marcellus must use every trick his old, invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for Tova before it’s too late…
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.
But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six.
Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Meet the unconventional, uncompromising Elizabeth Zott.
It is 1938 in China, and the Japanese are advancing. A young mother, Meilin, is forced to flee her burning city with her four-year-old son, Renshu, and embark on an epic journey across China. For comfort, they turn to their most treasured possession – a beautifully illustrated hand scroll. Its ancient fables offer solace and wisdom as they travel through their ravaged country, seeking refuge.
Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. His daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, but he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down?
Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the search for a place to call home.
Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster.
But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin’s parents get to know Joe’s firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals.
As Yasmin dismantles her own assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she’s also forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a ‘love marriage’ actually means.
Love Marriage is a story about who we are and how we love in today’s Britain – with all the complications and contradictions of life, desire, marriage and family. What starts as a captivating social comedy develops into a heart-breaking and gripping story of two cultures, two families and two people trying to understand one another.
Tonight nineteen-year-old William Lavery is dressed for success, his first black-tie do. It’s the Midlands Chapter of the Institute of Embalmers Ladies’ Night Dinner Dance, and William is taking Gloria in her sequined evening gown. He can barely believe his luck.
But as the guests sip their drinks and smoke their post-dinner cigarettes a telegram delivers news of a tragedy. An event so terrible it will shake the nation. It is October 1966 and a landslide at a coal mine has buried a school: Aberfan.
William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job, and will be – although he’s yet to know it – a choice that threatens to sacrifice his own happiness. His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to bury. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because – as William discovers – giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.
Not every story is black and white.
Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen’s husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.
This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen’s friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.
But can anyone win a fight like this?
In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter.
With his mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett plans to pick up his eight-year-old brother Billy and head to California to start a new life.
But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have stowed away in the trunk of the warden’s car. They have a very different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take the four of them on a fateful journey in the opposite direction – to New York City.
Bursting with life, charm, richly imagined settings and unforgettable characters, The Lincoln Highway is an extraordinary journey through 1950s America from the pen of a master storyteller.
When Silas Bird wakes in the dead of night, he watches powerlessly as three strangers take his father away.
Silas is left shaken, scared and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool…who happens to be a ghost. But then a mysterious pony shows up at his door, and Silas knows what he has to do.
So begins a perilous journey to find his father – a journey that will connect him with his past, his future, and the unknowable world around him.
The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other…
Joy Delaney and husband Stan have done well. Four wonderful grown-up children. A family business to envy. The golden years of retirement ahead of them.
So when Joy Delaney vanishes – no note, no calls, her bike missing – it’s natural that tongues will wag.
How did Stan scratch his face? Why no answers from the police? And who was the stranger who entered and suddenly left their lives? What are they all hiding?
But for the Delaney children there is a much more terrifying question: did they ever know their parents at all.
Because the closer the family, the bigger the lie…
To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time.
See, cash is tight, especially with all those instalment plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn’t see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn’t ask questions.
Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa – the ‘Waldorf of Harlem’ – and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord, and numerous other Harlem lowlifes.
Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?
After a car accident Jarred discovers he’ll never walk again. Confined to a ‘giant roller-skate’, he finds himself with neither money nor job. Worst of all, he’s forced to live back home with the father he hasn’t spoken to in ten years.
Add in a shoplifting habit, a painkiller addiction and the fact that total strangers now treat him like he’s an idiot, it’s a recipe for self-destruction. How can he stop himself careering out of control?
As he tries to piece his life together again, he looks back over his past – the tragedy that blasted his family apart, why he ran away, the damage he’s caused himself and others – and starts to wonder whether, maybe, things don’t always have to stay broken after all.
The Coward is about hurt and forgiveness. It’s about how the world treats disabled people. And it’s about how we write and rewrite the stories we tell ourselves.
You can save hundreds of lives.
Or the one that matters most.
The atmosphere on board the inaugural non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Numerous celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class and journalists will be waiting on the ground to greet the plane. Mina is one of a hand-picked team of flight attendants chosen for the landmark journey. She’s trying to focus on the task in hand, and not worry about her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home with her husband. Or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage. But the plane has barely taken off when Mina receives a chilling note from an anonymous passenger, someone intent on ensuring the plane never reaches its destination. Someone who needs Mina’s assistance and who knows exactly how to make her comply.
It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours…
Ramesh has a simple formula for fame and success: find a wealthy kid, make him a star and create an elaborate scheme to extort money from his parents, what could go wrong? As a self-styled ‘examinations consultant’, Ramesh is the cog in the wheel that keeps India’s middle classes thriving. When he takes an exam for Rudi – an intolerably lazy but rich teenager – he accidently scores the highest mark in the country and propels Rudi into stardom.
What next? Blackmail. Reality television. Grotesque wealth.
And after that? Kidnap. Double-kidnap. Reverse kidnap.
In a studio filled with hot lights, with millions of eyes on the boys, and a government investigator circling, the entire country begins to question: who are they?
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crew mates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realises that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
Millie Spark can kill anyone.
A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence.
Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed.
Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life – until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief Jerry. Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night…and someone doesn’t want them to find out why.
Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.
Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.
The son of a drug king, seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter is negotiating life in Garden Heights as he balances school, slinging dope, and working two jobs while his dad is in prison. He’s got it all under control – until, that is, Mav finds out he’s a father. Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything.
Loyalty, revenge and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. So, when Mav is offered the chance to go straight, it’s an opportunity – in a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing – to prove he’s different and figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.
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