We are delighted to introduce Book and Brew as one of our official reading groups for 2020, who applied to shadow the #ReadingWomen campaign to celebrate 25 years of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

We selected Book and Brew because their passion for reading great books by women shone through in their application form:

“We love that the Women’s Prize showcases and celebrates women’s writing, something we are passionate about sharing. We believe it’s really important to see strong women and the complexities of womanhood represented in literature and would love the chance revisit the Prize’s past explorations of women’s writing.”

Book and Brew is a book club of nine women based in Newcastle. They have been meeting monthly since 2015 and read literary, historical and dystopian fiction as well as sci-fi and classics – they’ll try anything really! They have shadow judged the Women’s Prize, Man Booker Prize and Man Booker International Prize and appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Book Club.

We were particularly keen to support readers who are key workers this year and the group involves a parole officer, primary school teacher and NHS HR manager who have all been working during the Covid-19 crisis to protect vulnerable people. The book club lead is also heavily pregnant so has been isolated since mid March. One member lives alone and another is the main carer for her mother who is recovering from chemotherapy. They have carried out their meetings via Zoom over lockdown, with video calls in-between and used their private Facebook group to share book recommendations, which they say has really helped them to feel connected, supported and maintain some semblance of normality.

On being selected to be an official #ReadingWomen reading group, they say:

“We’re really excited to review these books for the Reading Women campaign. We’re avid followers of the Women’s Prize and think it’s so important to celebrate and showcase the diversity of women’s voices and experiences. Our three books – How to be BothProperty and Larry’s Party – explore identity and we are eager to see how the authors tackle this complex subject.”

We look forward to hearing their thoughts on their book selection later in the summer: Larry’s Party by Carol Shields, Property by Valerie Martin and How to be Both by Ali Smith. They are supported through the process by our #ReadingWomen podcast episode on these books (listen here) and bespoke reading guides commissioned for each title.

Want to join in with the #ReadingWomen challenge? Find out more here.