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Books: Love reading? Join our club

If you love reading, you’ll love this. We’ve teamed up with Heffers, the brilliant Cambridge bookshop, to launch the Velvet Book Club. Spotlighting new releases each month, it’s a chance to read along, see your reviews in print and win books, too. . .

As any Book Club-goer will tell you, whether you’re bonding over a shared opinion or debating a differing one, talking about books is almost as enjoyable as reading them in the first place. That’s why we’re launching our own Velvet Book Club in partnership with Heffers, the Trinity Street bookshop which has been trading in Cambridge since 1876.

The theme, broadly, is contemporary fiction. Featuring a recently released paperback each month, we’d love you to read along with us and share your opinions with us, too: simply send us your reviews, 150 words max, and we’ll pick our three favourites to publish on this page in the next edition. You can share via Instagram using #VelvetBookClub and tagging @velvetmag and @heffers_cambridge . Or, if you’re not a ’gram fan, email us at info@velvetmag.co.uk, titling your message Velvet Book Club.

The best bit? Of the three chosen reviews, one will be crowned Review of the Month – and the writer will win a free copy of the next Book Club title, courtesy of Heffers.

First on our reading list is The Truants, pictured (Bloomsbury, £8.99). Described as ‘The Secret History meets Agatha Christie’, Kate Weinberg’s award-winning debut novel sees ‘middle-class, middle child’ Jess Walker arrive at a concrete university campus under flat, grey, East Anglian skies - but it’s not long before her world flares with colour.

As she is drawn into a tightly-knit group of rule breakers, Jess begins to experiment with a new version of herself. But as secrets are shared and the dynamic between the friends darkens, a tragedy occurs and Jess must face the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?

For a chance to see your review printed - and to win a copy of October’s Book Club choice - send it in by midnight, September 15. A little bit of small print: by sending us your reviews, you’re granting us permission to publish them. And prize books should be collected from Heffers on the city’s Trinity Street .

We wanted to make sure our first book was a page-turner, so we’ve read The Truants in advance and, in Team Velvet’s opinion, it lives up to the hype – but see what you think?

Did you know? Reading is officially good for us. Here’s the proof. . .

A University of Sussex study shows that reading for a mere six minutes reduces stress levels by 68%; more than having a cup of tea or listening to a piece of music. Writes study author Dr David Lewis, that’s because reading a book is “more than merely a distraction. . . [it’s] an active engaging of the imagination”, which “causes you to enter an altered state of consciousness”.

Reading Agency data reveals long-term effects too: adults who read for just 30 minutes per week are 20% more likely to feel satisfied with life, while non-readers are 28% more likely to report feelings of depression.

According to University of Toronto research, reading fiction is proven to increase tolerance of uncertainty - something we could all use in time of coronavirus. Study participants who read a short story were less likely to require “cognitive closure”, defined as “a need to reach a quick conclusion in decision-making and an aversion to ambiguity and confusion”, compared to those who opted for a non-fiction article, reported psychologists.

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