Saturday 31 August 2013

The booker long list ...

J and I have been involved in a book club in our village since 2008.  E has also occasionally joined us when home or from a distance. Initially we invited people we knew read and were interested in literature. This has expanded and we have had the real joy of meeting and getting to know an extended circle of neighbours and colleagues. We meet once monthly in each others homes and, not knowing how other book clubs organise their choIces, we decided that each month in turn someone would suggest a book we read, they then 'present' why they chose it and what was good/provocative/informative about it to the group and we then discuss it in detail. Each meeting someone also chooses and brings along a poem to read to the group, often reflecting some of the themes presented by the book being explored or championed that evening. Tea and wine are integral to the discussions!

I am always impressed and touched how courteous and sensitive everyone is to each others choice, yet able to be truthful and positive in criticism of the books we read. We rarely have the same opinion about the books and I don't feel I can, even now, predict who will like each choice. We have also read many different genres - including  historical, western, crime, science fiction, magical realism, nature/observation, classics, autobiography - and I feel I have read books I would never have picked up if they had not been prompted by the group. As I sometimes have reading 'deserts' when I just can't seem to concentrate enough to read a book it's also been something that has really forced me not to give up and find a way thorough these times at least once a month.

This year and last year we have also had an extra ploy. We are each reading a book on the Booker long list - 13 novels published this year and chosen by the Booker judges - and will meet to each very briefly present the books individually, (without giving the plot away) and propose, from each others judgement,  which will make the short list of 6. There is then a gap of a month before the winner is announced and we each then all read as many of the six as we can to then be more informed and involved when the winner is announced in mid October. It makes such a difference to have read the  books to then listen to and be involved in the discussion of the most important literary prize of the year.

This year I have recruited our village library into the whole event and the meeting to discuss the announcement is going to be open to any one and in a special open evening at the library ! Lets hope my organisation and publicity is going to be up to it with the help of a lovely community librarian, Dave from North Somerset. 

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