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Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction 2024 Shortlist - What Did Our Reading Groups Think?

As we shape up to find out which of the Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction shortlisted books will be crowned as this year’s winner, our six reading groups selected to shadow the Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction have been reading, discussing and reviewing those titles. Keep reading to find out what they thought.

The inaugural winner of the 2024 Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction will be announced on Thursday 13 June 2024 at the Women’s Prize Trust’s summer party in central London, along with the inaugural winner of the 2024 Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction. The winner will receive £30,000 and a limited-edition artwork, known as the ‘Charlotte’, created by the sculptor Ann Christopher RA FRSS. Both were gifted by the Charlotte Aitken Trust.

You can watch along to the announcement live via the Women’s Prizes YouTube channel from 6:45pm on 13 June.

Find out what our groups thought about the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist here

More information can be found on the Women’s Prizes website here.

The shortlist

The Geordie Book Group

The Geordie Book Group started in January of 2016 and was initially based at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Newcastle. They host 15-20 regular attendees including many of their original members. They were selected to read Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life and Sudden Death by Laura Cumming

The majority of the group found themselves surprised by how much they enjoyed this title. As a new subject for many, and not a book they’d have normally chosen, they found themselves gripped by the dual narrative and left with a new found appreciation for Dutch art. Many in the group noted that it has sparked a new interest in them and they “want to know and see more”. One member even went as far as saying “I finished knowing that I will never again walk into a museum without seeking these works out and that it has genuinely changed how I will engage with paintings.”

Heritage Reads Book Club

Describing themselves as a vast tapestry of avid readers, the Heritage Reads Book Club consists of a small group of members who have roots all across the world. The group read A Flat Place by Noreen Masud.

The group overwhelmingly liked the book and even invited the author into one of their discussions to answer their questions. On the title they said: " A Flat Place is a companion for anyone on a journey to understand the landscapes of their own life, and is highly recommended for its gentle insight and profound empathy. This book offers a gentle, affirming nod for anyone who has felt their suffering overlooked or struggled to find a voice in a world that values only the most dramatic stories. Noreen Masud doesn’t just share her story, she invites us into it, offering a space to breathe, reflect, and perhaps heal.”

They added that “each person had unique takeaways from Noreen’s story and related to different parts. That is always a joy of reading with a diverse group is seeing how other readers digest the same words. It also speaks volumes to Noreen as a writer that she is able to make so many connections.”

The Eaton Rise Book Club

The Eaton Rise Book Group started in 2012 by Bridget on a small development of houses in Norwich built in the 50s and 60s. They self-describe as an all-female book club, with a mixed age range of busy retirees and working women who love books and the value they add to their lives. They have been reading All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles

The book sparked a huge amount of discussion within the group. They noted that they spent a large amount of time talking about how the books tore them in two directions – in one sense they found a lot of the book filled with “excellent research, and gripping and informative writing” and in another way they felt frustrated by the speculative nature on writing on a subject where its historical evidence is often missing.

They particularly noted that they unanimously adored the chapter on the tattered dress “with wider research and information about clothing, the sources of cloth, and the laws around clothing of enslaved people” being informative and moving.

The Page Turners

The Page Turners, formed through Community Links’ Scotland’s Healthy Pathways Project, are a group of women that came together to create The Page Turners in July 2022. They were chosen to read Code Dependent: Living in the Shadow of AI by Madhumita Murgia

The group described themselves as not the most technological bunch and that they were originally worried that the selected title was not right for them. Instead they found themselves engaged from the first chapter, noting that the way it was written made the feel like they were right beside the author.

They noted that “this should be a must read for young adults to help them understand that once you put your images and information out there you can’t take it back. There is a place for AI, especially in the health field and can benefit patients with a reduction in waiting times for diagnosis, however there is still the need for the human touch and humanity.”

Stirchley Book Club

Set up 5 years ago by husband-and-wife Josh & Tab, they meet monthly at the local community centre in South Birmingham and have already been featured on TV and radio. They were selected to read Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein

This title drew an intense amount of discussion in this group, with them mostly agreeing that it was remarkably thought-provoking and incredibly well-researched, and something they generally enjoyed reading (even if enjoy may not be the correct adjective). They noted that the mix between “big and complex concepts, alongside the author’s personal anecdotes and experiences” gave a really interesting balance between the academic and the personal.

One reader said “I personally have enjoyed the book. I think it’s challenged my perspective a little. Where it may be easy to rule out leaders with different – and extreme – views to your own, as either quacks or attention seekers, I think the author very astutely acknowledges the strategic shrewdness and opportunism that lays behind much of the far-right movement.”

Whilst they felt that the book didn’t drastically change their opinions on the topics of the book, it gave them the opportunity to share their feelings and experiences around quite emotive topics which helped them feel more connected as a group and strengthened their relationships.

Read with Yeovil

Read With Yeovil have approximately 20 members, both male and female, who read 2 fiction or non-fiction books each month. They also support a network of local authors who often come and talk about their books, or join socially, when not writing. The group read How to Say Babylon: A Jamaican Memoir by Safiya Sinclair

This group found this title to be a fascinating departure from their usual reading habits, that “offered them all a new perspective on Rastafarian life” that challenged their previous understanding of the religion. They found that the topics of the book, isolated communities, religion, patriarchy, abuse and coercive control and education, led to long and full discussions between all members, some of which were able to contribute on personal levels.

Overall they found that the book caused different reactions across the group but as a majority they would highly recommend it to other readers.

Get involved

Are you interested in reading any of the shortlisted titles? Find out more about the shortlist here.

If you work in a library or workplace and would like to promote the shortlist, you can download a free digital pack from our shop.

What do you think of the 2024 shortlisted titles? Which have you read and what will be added to your TBR pile? Add your comments below, or click any title above to leave a review.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WomensPrize.

Keep up with all the latest news on the Women’s Prize website.

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