Book Club: Let’s Talk About Books, Baby

Dear LupinWith love and thanks to Sally and Anne, our Book Club is now two years old. We began in April 2012 and we have 23 books (we took two months over one very long one!) under our belts.

Our authors have included Elizabeth George, Marina Lewycka, Anne Tyler, Hilary Mantel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Julian Barnes, Emma Donoghue, Viktor Frankl, S.J. Watson, Leo Tolstoy, Jonas Jonasson, Adam Haslett, Caitlin Moran, Anne Lamott, Taiye Selasi, Jane Austen, Diana Gabaldon, Khaled Hosseini, Donal Ryan, Eleanor Catton, Kate Atkinson, Colm Toibin and Susan Hill.

I’ve read sixteen books I would not have done otherwise (one third were my choice, accounting for the rest of them).

All three of us love crime but stretch ourselves outside that genre so as to be self-improving. There is an enormous amount of satisfaction to be derived from finishing a book which I would normally abandon if it were just me. I stick with it for the sake of les autres and that is also improving, it makes us feel good.

There is only one which I refused to participate seriously in, though there were several more where I wanted to and I was not alone. And that was Anna Karenina which ran to 239 chapters (!) where I already knew how it ended because I’d read the book when a teenager and seem so many film and TV adaptations I’ve lost count. Sorry, Anne. I think I get our Flake Award for that one.

My favourite book in two years? Really difficult to say. Probably Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott since it introduced us to a new writer we all enjoyed enormously. A close run second would be The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson which was just plain good fun.

The one which I think we all gobbled up within a couple of weeks was our most recent by Susan Hill, the first in her Simon Serrailler series; as I said, we all love a good whodunit so this really felt like slacking. Two weeks later and I couldn’t even remember how the baddie was despatched!

My least favourite was definitely The Great Gatsby; delicious writing from F. Scott Fitzgerald, I knew that, but the people are all so ghastly I could hardly bear to re-read that one, another from my teen years where it must have seemed glamorously grown-up to me then, as opposed to just offensive as it seems to me now.

Upcoming in 2014 – I am hoping to persuade the ladies to Dear Lupin in April and my choice for later in the year is Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest. Anne has already flagged that we will be undertaking another re-read from our younger lives – Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, this to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

  • Do you read?
  • Are you in a Book Club?
  • What do you recommend?

My best Book Club book ever was Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver which I shall hope to talk Anne & Sally into at some point, but no rush. Long may we endure.

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