Authors including Jilly Cooper, David Nicholls, Robert Harris and Rosamund Lupton turned out at a party to celebrate the success of the Richard and Judy Book Club with W H Smith on Tuesday night (11th January).
Held at HarperCollins’ headquarters in the News Building in London Bridge, authors including Louise Doughty, Clare Mackintosh, Rick Stein and S J Watson turned out in force to celebrate the pair’s successful long-running book club with the UK retailer.
Speaking at the event, Judy Finnigan, who selects the shortlist of book club titles to promote along with her husband Richard Madeley from a longlist put together by a W H Smith reading panel, said the success of the book club was “beyond my wildest dreams”.
Richard and Judy gave a speech
The husband-and-wife team ran a book club on their television chat show on Channel 4 and later on digital online channel Watch before it was cancelled in 2009, but the promotion was continued in 2010 in collaboration with W H Smith.
Titles the pair select sell in high volumes and often influence the national weekly book chart, with seven of eight from their latest spring selection hitting the top 10 this week.
“It is beyond our wildest dream really,” Finnigan said. “Once we stopped doing daily TV, we really never thought, as much as we adored our book club on TV and as much as we carried on, we didn’t think without the prop of a television show that we would be able to recreate the success. Astonishingly we have, and that is many thanks to W H Smith…There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes.”
Robert Harris was one of the authors at the party
Madeley said that an aspect he and Finnigan enjoyed the most about the book club was giving debut authors “a kick start”.
“When we discover debut writers…they are not just good debut novelists, they are bloody brilliant, and they can throw punches just as hard as perhaps Robert Harris," he said. "For us to be able to discover them and give them a bit of a kick start by putting them on our list is a huge pleasure. The other aspect (I enjoy) more generally is to get people reading. A lot of members of the public come up to us and say they haven’t read a book for two or three years and they read our recommendations and it makes it a bit easier for them, they weren’t intimidated. Sometimes it is their first novel they have ever read and it gets them on that train, on that journey.”
He added: I’m so pleased we are having this party tonight…. Because seven out of eight books have gone into the top ten, which is our best performance ever.”
Rosamund Lupton was another one of the authors in attendance
The Richard and Judy Spring list features four debut writers: Samuel Bjork, Hollie Overton, Joanna Cannon and Keith Stuart.
I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork (Corgi) is a Norway-set crime thriller as detectives look to solve the murder of a young girl found hanging from a tree; Baby Doll by Hollie Overton (Arrow) is a "tense" psychological thriller about a girl kept captive in a single room; The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (Borough Press) is a tale of secrets in suburbia in the 1970s; and A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart (Sphere) is a "beautiful, funny and heartwarming" story based on the author's life with his autistic son.
The debuts join Jessie Burton's second novel The Muse (Picador), Bryony Gordon's story of living with depression and OCD Mad Girl (Headline), and thrillers Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (Penguin) and Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant (Mulholland).
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