The Book Lovers Companion Review

Deciding what to read next can be a daunting task for a lot of us.

It’s hard if your last read was a stinker –  though at least you’ll know feeling that the only direction left is up! 

It’s especially tricky if you’ve just finished something wonderful. You want a book that’s different enough that it won’t suffer from a comparison but that meets the standards set by the previous author. 
While books and stories can be social; reading itself is a very individual process. There are a plethora of factors that impact on reading. Mood alone can change how you respond to a book. 

Getting recommendations from friends and family is probably considered the safest route to sourcing your next read – you’ll have a first hand positive review to work from. 

As long as the person involved share your reading interests. 

I couldn’t count for you the amount of times I’ve read a book – having heard it hailed to the skies by a mate – and HATED it – the subject matter or writing not to my taste AT ALL – then wondered how best to break that news diplomatically!
So when Michael O’Mara Books – HERE – tweeted me to say this was ‘A book designed with book clubs in mind’, safe to say I was very excited. 
THE BLURB (from MOMBooks)

With so many fantastic books out there, it can often be difficult to choose what to read next. Thankfully, The Book Lovers’ Companion is here to help, bringing together a huge range of the best and most loved titles in one comprehensive guide. 

Featuring a diverse selection of books to choose from, from Pride and Prejudice to the modern classics as well as the latest bestsellers, the guide includes interesting discussion points and facts that will be indispensable for book clubs as well as potential companion books with similar themes, honest opinions from readers and razor-sharp reviews from critics, so you’ll know you’re making the right choice every time. 

Compiled by a range of English literature experts and avid readers, and with a foreword by Lionel Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About KevinThe Book Lovers’ Companionis sure to inspire any book lover. You need never read a bad book again!


The book opens with an introduction by Lionel Shriver – author of ‘We need to talk about Kevin’. I’ve recently read this book for MedusaLBC and loathed it with a passion I usually reserve for matters of life and death or Whedon cancellation. Here however, we became fast friends. I caught myself nodding emphatically on the bus, particularly in response to how they are often perceived by the  literary. I couldn’t agree more with her assessment and with her enthusiasm for the creating of literate societies/comunities via book clubs. 

In fact, going through the table of contents actually feels a little bit about being at a book club. Some of the choices made me beam with delight; others left me spluttering with disbelief! A good book club discussion can be the forging of a new friendship. A really great book club discussion can change your entire perspective on life, the universe and everything! 

There are over 200 entries, including many of the usual suspects – Pride and Prejudice, Brick Lance or The Great Gatsby – but there are also little gems that don’t normally make there way into an anthology of this type – Perfume and The Story of Lucy Gault – a personal favourite. 

Each entry is divided up into sections including some variation of spoiler-free summary, discussion points, reader’s notes, background information and similarly regarded titles to try next. I started off with the books that I’d read. There were a number of reviewers involved in the compilation of this book resulting in a diverse range that are humourous, personal and topic specific. Nothing worse than reading a review that is blatantly inaccurate or written without having actually read the source material!

Of particularly interest to me were the thematic list choices dotted throughout the book. Initially disgruntled to see that there was a list for men yet not one for women; I was appeased and very much enjoyed the explanation offered on that page! I love top tens and look forward to spending a bit of time contrasting theirs with my mental lists. 

In short – I’m a fan. There is a great range of books reviewed. More importantly each review reads honestly, albeit briefly. It’s particularly enjoyable to pick out the entry of a really weird book and watch the struggle to succinctly condense it into a few sentences. 
Perhaps the greatest attribute of this book is that it slightly alters the way you think about the books you’ve read recently – providing an easy template format that allows comparative reflection. I’m hoping that if I continue to reference the book regularly; this logical layout will become habit to me, providing structure to my often meandering thoughts!

However, I would have loved for each entry to be a page longer – allowing for a slightly more in-depth look at each book. Perhaps a spoiler section at the back could be included. This would be terrific for people who have already read the book and could see another persons assessment of the plot and twists. Otherwise, there is a sense that this book is a starting point and merely that. Its actually a credit to the book that I wanted more. Had the summaries not been so impressive; I probably wouldn’t be craving their opinions on the end. 

I can think of so many friends that would love to receive this and indeed I plan on putting it to good use this Christmas – matching readers to books rather then buying them something that I want to read and hoping I can borrow it. 

Kidding, of course. I’d never do anything so churlish. 

I read them before I wrap them 

*FYI – as a collective LBC has read at least nine books on the list! Expect that to increase in 2013! 

The most awesomeness Muppet of them all.

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