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BBC Two - Between the Covers

This spring BBC Two's Between the Covers returns to our screens, hosted by Sara Cox. The tweaked format of the programme in its second season will feature a big book of 2020 alongside a newly published title, guaranteed to keep you inspired and entertained.

Between the Covers brings together some of the nation's best-known authors and celebrity guests to celebrate the books they love. Each week, her guests reveal their favourite books of all time and features some of the most anticipated publications.

Catch up on all the episodes available on BBC iPlayer.

Featured on Episode 6, Monday 15th June

Sara is joined by presenter Ranvir Singh, comedians Micky Flanagan and Reginald D Hunter, and comedian and actor Sophia Willan. They will all be sharing their favourite books as well as reviewing this week’s two book club picks: Our Big Hitter from last year, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, and our new book pick, The Frequency of Us by Keith Stuart.

Shuggie Bain : Winner of the Booker Prize 2020 - Douglas Stuart

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive.

Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth).

But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town.

As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves.

It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother's sense of snobbish propriety.

The miners' children pick on him and adults condemn him as no' right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.



The Frequency of Us : A BBC2 Between the Covers book club pick - Keith Stuart

In Second World War Bath, young, naive wireless engineer Will meets Austrian refugee Elsa Klein: she is sophisticated, witty and worldly, and at last his life seems to make sense... until, soon after, the newly married couple's home is bombed, and Will awakes from the wreckage to find himself alone. No one has heard of Elsa Klein. They say he was never married. Seventy years later, social worker Laura is battling her way out of depression and off medication.

Her new case is a strange, isolated old man whose house hasn't changed since the war.

A man who insists his wife vanished many, many years before.

Everyone thinks he's suffering dementia. But Laura begins to suspect otherwise...



Featured on Episode 5, Monday 7th June

Sara is joined by comedian Nish Kumar, presenter Stacey Dooley, columnist and author Caitlin Moran and comedian and actor Robert Webb. They will all be sharing their favourite books as well as reviewing this week’s two book club picks: our Big Hitter from last year, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, and our new book pick, The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward.


On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever.

Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home? Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs.

Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that Hamnet will not survive the week. Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright: a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.



The Last House on Needless Street : A BBC Two Between the Covers Book Club Pick; the Gothic Masterpiece of 2021 - Catriona Ward

This is the story of a murderer.

A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies. You think you know what's inside the last house on Needless Street.

You think you've read this story before. But you're wrong. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it's not what you think...

From the multiple award-winning author of Little Eve and Rawblood, this extraordinary tale will thrill and move readers.



Featured on Episode 4, Monday 31st May

Sara is joined by actors Don Warrington and Hugh Dennis, comedian Zoe Lyons and presenter and author Giovanna Fletcher. They will all be sharing their favourite books, as well as reviewing this week’s two book club picks: our big hitter from last year, Agent Running in the Field by John le Carre, and our new book pick, Another Life by debut author Jodie Chapman.

Agent Running in the Field : A BBC 2 Between the Covers Book Club Pick - John le Carre

Nat, a veteran of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, thinks his years as an agent runner are over. But MI6 have other plans. To tackle the growing threat from Moscow Centre, Nat is put in charge of The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies.

His weekly badminton session with the young, introspective, Brexit-hating Ed, offers respite from the new job. But it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Nat down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all.



Another Life : The stunning love story and BBC2 Between the Covers pick - Jodie Chapman

She could be the girl dancing on tables one night, and the next she'd be hiding in the shadows. Just when I thought I understood her, she would melt away and become a completely new person, and I'd have to start all over again.

That's how it was with Anna. Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She's grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits. So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation - hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she's ever believed in, and everyone she's ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn't stop her. Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick's life. But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that's endured decades, and the promises they've made to others along the way.



Featured on Episode 3, Monday 24th May

Sara is joined by author and comedian David Baddiel, actors Adjoa Andoh and Phil Davis, and comedian Katherine Ryan. They will all be sharing their favourite books as well as reviewing this week’s two book club picks: the big hitter from last year, The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré, and the new book pick, Sixteen Horses by debut author Greg Buchanan.

The Girl with the Louding Voice : The Bestselling Word of Mouth Hit That Will Win Over Your Heart - Abi Dare

I don't just want to be having any kind voice . . . I want a louding voice. At fourteen, Adunni dreams of getting an education and giving her family a more comfortable home in her small Nigerian village.

Instead, Adunni's father sells her off to become the third wife of an old man.

When tragedy strikes in her new home, Adunni flees to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where she becomes a house-girl to the cruel Big Madam, and prey to Big Madam's husband.

But despite her situation continuously going from bad to worse, Adunni refuses to let herself be silenced. And one day, someone hears her.



Sixteen Horses - Greg Buchanan

Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses' heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun.

After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community - disappearances, arson and mutilations - all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself. In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia.

Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat.

The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightening and insidious mysteries - no matter the cost. Sixteen Horses is the debut literary thriller from an extraordinary talent, Greg Buchanan.

A story of enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind...



Featured on Episode 2, Monday 17th May

Sara is joined by comedian Rachel Parris, chef and presenter Rick Stein, actor and comedian Rob Delaney and presenter Vick Hope. They share favourite books as well as reviewing the week’s two book club picks - the big hitter from last year, The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, and the new book pick, Should We Fall Behind by Sharon Duggal.

The Lying Life of Adults: A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER - Elena Ferrante

Giovanna's pretty face has changed: it's turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent.

But is she seeing things as they really are? Where must she look to find her true reflection and a life she can claim as her own? Giovanna's search leads her to two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity.

Adrift, she vacillates between these two cities, falling into one then climbing back to the other. Set in a divided Naples, The Lying Life of Adults is a singular portrayal of the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.



SHOULD WE FALL BEHIND -The BBC Two Between The Covers Book Club Choice - Sharon Duggal

Jimmy Noone walks from one side of a sprawling city to the other, looking for Betwa, a friend he found and lost on the bustling city streets.

Jimmy becomes the catalyst for lost lives colliding, exposing stories of tenderness, devotion, displacement and tragedy, and the subtle threads of commonality which intersect them all, making the invisible, visible again.



Featured on Episode 1, Monday 10th May

Sara is joined by comedians Mel Giedroyc and Griff Rhys Jones, Strictly’s reigning champion Oti Mabuse and presenter Rick Edwards. They will all be sharing their favourite books, as well as reviewing this week’s two book club picks: the big hitter from last year, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and the first of the new books, The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard.

The Vanishing Half : Shortlisted for the Women's Prize 2021 - Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half is an utterly mesmerising novel. It seduces with its literary flair, surprises with its breath-taking plot twists, delights with its psychological insights, and challenges us to consider the corrupting consequences of racism on different communities and individual lives.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.

Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past.

Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?



The Fine Art of Invisible Detection : The thrilling BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick - Robert Goddard

Umiko Wada has recently had quite enough excitement in her life. With her husband recently murdered and a mother who seems to want her married again before his body is cold, she just wants to keep her head down. As a secretary to a private detective, her life is pleasingly uncomplicated, filled with coffee runs, diary management and paperwork.

That is, until her boss takes on a new case. A case which turns out to be dangerous enough to get him killed. A case which means Wada will have to leave Japan for the first time and travel to London.

Following the only lead she has, Wada quickly realises that being a detective isn't as easy as the television makes out. And that there's a reason why secrets stay buried for a long time. Because people want them to stay secret.

And they're prepared to do very bad things to keep them that way...



Upcoming books to be featured on Series 2

Discover the books featured in Series 1   |  View all