Book clubs, Richard and Judy and more book news

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In downtown L.A., Metropolis Books is hosting a classics book club: The next meeting is June 6, when it’ll be discussing ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë. Interested readers are encouraged to e-mail the store (more info); we hear it’ll have pastries from the nearby Nickel Diner. Mmmm, maple glaze bacon donuts.

Libraría Martinez announces a book club with author Reyna Grande on May 28 at its Lynwood location, when the first book to be read will be revealed (more info here, scroll way down).

To facilitate your book club, there is the lovely ‘The Ultimate Book Club Organizer’ from Chronicle Books, which includes stickers and bookmarks as well as places for notes and whatnot. Words Worth Books in Ontario, Canada, which currently has three book clubs running, blogs ‘I use it myself for our in-store book club organizing and its fun and beautifully designed!’ When I was in a book club, nobody was organized enough to need a cute organizer -- perhaps that’s why we’re not a book club anymore.

The uncertain future of the Richard and Judy book club is causing consternation in the U.K. Richard and Judy have a daytime television show there that has been as influential with book buyers as Oprah’s has been here in the U.S. But Richard and Judy’s show hasn’t maintained its popularity, and it turns out they’ll be going off the air in July -- six months earlier than had been previously announced. The Guardian, which writes that the duo’s production company is in talks to keep the book club afloat, notes its tremendous effect on publishing in the U.K.:


over £158m worth of books sold, eight millionaire authors created, and a consistently interesting selection of books, which ranged from the obviously commercial (Kate Mosse’s ‘Labyrinth’) to the more challenging (‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell). The ‘Richard and Judy effect’ has created bestsellers out of a host of previously unknown authors.

Perhaps as a kind of compensation, the same nation that started this phenomenon we call ‘American Idol’ has now launched a similar competition for writers. The Alan Titchmarsh Show has called for ‘strong, real life inspirational stories that you would like to share with the British public. The winner’ -- selected by judges and then voted on by viewers -- ‘will receive a publishing deal with an advance of twenty thousand pounds.’ So far, only residents of the United Kingdom are eligible to apply.

In unrelated news, a correction: David Ward, author of ‘Alcatraz: The Gangster Years,’ wrote in to clarify some details of our post about his panel at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. The post has been updated.

-- Carolyn Kellogg