What makes a good book club?

I belong to two great book clubs – with one of them I went to the Weston-super-Mare Literary Festival quiz, last week which was great fun, and the other I met up with this afternoon. We were discussing ‘The Buried Giant‘ by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had never read anything else by him, and knew nothing at all about the book, apart from the person who suggested it as this month’s read loved it, and another person hated it  and said it was  ‘one of the few books that I find completely unreadable.’ I began to read it with a totally open mind, and to my surprise, even though it’s the sort of book I usually struggle with, I was entranced! I confess I haven’t been able to finish it – yet! However I was able to join in with the lively discussion it provoked. When I do finish it I will let you know my thoughts.

We meet in a book shop and today there were eight of us bad weather, foreign travel and family responsibilities meant others were unable to join us today. As usual we were all jolly pleased to see each other and there was a general chat around the table as we compared notes about the recent snow, and caught up with other news and got coffee, tea and other refreshments.

We began to discuss the book – not exactly taking it in turns but just bobbing in and saying our bit, having a little discussion on a particular point or point of view, little discussions going on between people sitting next to each other. The conversation buzzed, sometimes we went off track a little and talked about other things – the Arthurian legends, allegories, other books we were reminded of, parts of the books we really liked, bits we didn’t understand and explanations or interpretations of those bits – different points of view sudden moments of enlightenment and understanding, the talk flowing in such a friendly and enthusiastic way.

As we reached the time when people were thinking of heading for home we had a brief chat about next months’ book, A Question of Upbringing’ the first in Anthony Powell’s twelve volume saga, Dance to the Music of Time. Then we had the more difficult task of choosing a book for the month after that – we had thought last time it might be interesting to read a children’s novel – the suggestions came thick and fast –

  • Goodnight Mr Tom – Michael Morpurgo
  • any book by E. Nesbit
  • any book by Philip Pullman
  • any book by Robert Westall but maybe The Machine Gunners or The Scarecrows
  • any book by Judith Kerr
  • Tin  by Pádraig Kenny
  • and so many more!

In the end we decided on  When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, and that we would also talk about other books for children which we have re-read for book club.

I enjoy both my book clubs, and today’s get together was particularly lively and enjoyable!


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