People are always asking me what my book club is reading and how we’ve managed to last so long. I put it down to mutual respect and sharing the same passion – reading, not to mention loving talking about books. It doesn’t matter whether they are intriguing, not so interesting, classics, historical, etc.. The main goal is to enjoy discussing books.
We are quite a large group now about fifteen and we are some very passionate, opinionated women when we discuss books. Things wouldn’t be so interesting if that wasn’t the case. Really I wouldn’t have it any other way. We started with eight members and as the years have gone on more people have joined and some have left. There are about five of us left from the original group.
The principal strengths of this reading group are that we are all different ages, nationalities (British, American, and French) and interests. That leaves a lot of room for discussion. How do things work? We choose our reading list towards the end of the school year in June. So we read seven books each year. Each member comes to the second to last meeting with two suggestions. I compile a list and yes at the moment it’s colossal. I send each member the complete list and that gives them time to research and decide what titles they want to vote for at our last meeting. The last meeting, we discuss our last book, vote for next year’s list, and try to decide which book we will start with in October. The thickest novel usually gets put up as choice #1 for October. This process allows everyone to acquire their books over summer in the UK or USA or maybe even arrange to borrow them from friends. In the future we may have to limit how many suggestions we put in because the list is starting to get just a little too long. So that’s it! Everything is organized, democratically voted on, and most of all a moment we all look forward to. Here are the choices for 2011-2012:
The next time we meet, April 14th, it will be to discuss The White Tiger. It was the 2008 Booker Prize winner. That always makes some members nervous. I’m assuming it’s going to be a challenge but that’s fine. I’m up for it! We’ve already read The Help, Sarah’s Key, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and The Slap. I’ve done posts on The Slap, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and The Help. Check them out if you want to know what I thought. Sarah’s Key – 2 stars The first half was extremely interesting and very moving but the second half was boring, stereotypical, and badly written. It’s really a shame because she did such a good job on the first half of the story. The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim – 4 stars the beginning of this book depressed me to no end, but by the time I reached the middle of the book I started to find it more interesting and even more so after the book club discussion. It was a little disappointing that he didn’t explore more closely certain episodes but all in all it was a good read. It is Jonathan Coe after all.
As for the rest of the books that we’ve read since 2005, here’s a long list and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few. The list is extensive but they are all interesting and engaging in their own words. I’ll put a few of my favorites in bold. Who knows maybe you’ll find something you’d like to read, reread, or that you just plain forgot about.
Suite Française – Irène Némirovsky
Wash the Blood Clean From My Hands – Fred Vargas
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown – Couldn’t finish this book. It was like a history text-book. Argh!!! It was like a giant sleeping pill to me, but it is one of the most exhaustive narratives recounting Native American life.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Water For Elephants – Sara Guen
Blue Angel – Francine Prose
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Midnight’s Children – Salmon Rushdie – Couldn’t finish this book. I couldn’t figure out who was who. He kept changing the characters’ names. A little too pompous for my taste!
The Bastard of Istanbul – Elif Shafak
The Memory Keepers Daughter – KIm Edwards
Skinny Legs and All – Tom Robbins
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi
The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
The Darling – Russel Banks
How to Be Good – Nick Hornby
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
Saturday – Ian McEwan
Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck
I am Charlotte Simmons – Tom Wolfe
Lignes de Failles – Nancy Huston
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
What I Loved – Sylvie Hustvedt
A History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka
The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
The Other Boleyn Girl – Philipa Gregory
The Alchemist – Paulo Coello
The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracey Chevalier
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffennegger
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Brick Lane – Monica Ali
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
My Life in France – Julia Child
The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer/Annie Barrows
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson
The Virgin Blue – Tracey Chevalier
The Ginger Tree – Oswald Wynd
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
The Comedians – Graham Green