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8 Book Club Books about Gardening & Botany

Dear BookBrowsers,

It's almost summertime which means more time spent outdoors, rooted in the natural world. If you're lucky enough to own a gardening patch, you know how therapeutic an exercise it can be to smell the lavender and work the soil to get the tomatoes going. These book club selections borrow on the botanical delights of the season and deliver much to enjoy with the turn of every leaf. We hope you dig them as much as we do!

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Golden State Goodies: 8 Exceptional Books Set in California for Book Clubs

Dear BookBrowsers,

An Indian friend once recently described California as "America's America." What she was getting at was that if the United States for a long time was considered the shining beacon of democracy, then California was at the very epicenter of all that's great about the country. California Cool is a real currency and the diverse demographics of the Golden State complemented by its absolutely breathtaking geography mean plenty of rewarding material for talented authors to explore - and for book clubs to enjoy - as these selections amply illustrate. Each recommendation is backed by an excerpt and reading guide, and for a limited time, you can also read our full length reviews and "beyond the book" articles.

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Above and Beyond: A Selection of BookBrowse's "Beyond the Book" Articles

Dear BookBrowsers,

Each book we feature in the BookBrowse Review (our twice-monthly membership magazine) is backed by a review and an excerpt, and often a reading guide and author interview. In addition, we always include a "Beyond the Book" article. In fact, these pithy features are so popular that a significant number of members tell us they look forward to reading them first.

To feed the geek in you, we feature a sampling of recent Beyond the Book articles in this special edition. They explore a gamut of topics to satisfy a wide range of interests and are representative of the kind of content we love to dig into. We pack our reading recommendations with just that extra touch of noteworthy content because we know that you too love the excitement of discovering something you never knew before.

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A Spot of Britain: 10 Books Set In Britain Recommended for Book Clubs

Dear BookBrowsers,

We hear you: We miss Downton Abbey too. We miss the tightly knit story, the characters, the costumes, the accents and most of all -- the setting. Fret not. At BookBrowse, we have compiled our own special list of books that take you back to Britain, to the land of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. After all armchair travel, especially with a great book, is as close to the real thing as it can get. Even better, it's much less expensive. These cherry-picked recommendations will pair perfectly with a spot of tea or even the house's best curry (curry usually tops surveys of Britain's favorite dishes) to give you or your book club that extra dash of British panache.

Each recommendation is backed by an excerpt, a reading guide, a range of media reviews and, for a limited time access to BookBrowse's full reviews and beyond the book articles.

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On Their Own Terms: Stories of Strong Women

One of the many great things about books is that they reflect the human experience back at us in so many kaleidoscopic ways. There are times we learn about new people and places and at others, seek validation in a story, to see maybe a bit of ourselves mirrored back at us.

This is one of the drivers for creating a list of books featuring real-life women who led life on their own terms. Each and every one of these gems serves to remind us just how much women can -- and have -- achieved over the years. What's more each woman's circumstance will provide ample fodder for your next book club meeting. We hope you  -- guys included -- see the best of your own selves reflected in these capable heroines.

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Was Christopher Marlowe Actually William Shakespeare?

A Prisoner in MaltaEach time BookBrowse reviews a book we also go "beyond the book" to explore a related topic. Last week we reviewed A Prison in Malta, the first in a new 16th century mystery series by Phillip DePoy which introduces a sleuth to appeal to mystery, historical fiction and literary aficionados alike, none other than playwright Christopher Marlowe (who, in all likelihood, did do to a fair amount of real-life spying for Queen Elizabeth.)

Going "beyond the book" our reviewer James Broderick eruditely explores the 400-year-old question - did Shakespeare write his plays or were they written by someone else? And was that someone Christopher Marlowe? If you've found the "Shakespeare authorship" question a tad dry, even irrelevant, or perhaps didn't even know there was a question to resolve, be prepared to be happily entertained and intrigued as James, in a mere 700 words, eloquently gets to the gist of a debate that has spawned dozens of books:

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