Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Book Club

Are you an avid reader? Do you belong to a book Club? I can't remember a time when I didn't read. When we were young having money to spend on a new book was a real treat. I have memories of being taken to a book shop after school, a shilling in my hand and being allowed to choose my own book, of coming home and enjoying the fact I could read the words, loving the illustrations... I always loved the illustrations. Later, in my early teens I read my way through all the large print Agatha Christie books in the library... nothing to do with my eyesight, they only had large print copies! After that in later teens I graduated onto the classics followed by Feminist literature and "edgy" stuff during my university days. Now I read anything, novels, non-fiction, magazines and of course, blogs. 

And I love belonging to a book club, because it not only means I sometimes read a book I would otherwise not choose which I then end up enjoying, but sometimes there is a bit of swapping and borrowing that goes on too. At our last meeting I borrowed Brooklyn from my friend Anne. When we read Nora Webster by Colm Toibin back in June I wasn't sure I really liked it... I enjoyed the style and the prose but couldn't connect with the characters.  At the time I did think I might like to try more from this author  and when I heard him being interviewed on Desert Island Discs a few weeks ago I was charmed and also intrigued to discovered Nora Webster was essentially his own story. He sounded such a lovely man that I knew I wanted to give his writing another chance. I'm glad I did because Brooklyn is a beautiful story about a young Irish girl called Eilis who emigrates to New York in the 1950s to find work. She stays in lodgings in Brooklyn and is homesick, but just as she starts to build a life and find friendship she receives news that means she has to return to Ireland where she faces an awful dilemma. A beautiful story that had me gripped from the beginning right through to the last words.


Tonight is our book club meeting. A mixed and diverse group, we meet in the local pub where we often have a small light hearted quiz or game related to the book, followed by a discussion led by one of the members. The book we are discussing this evening is Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. This is a classic example of a book I would not have picked up if it hadn't been on our book club list but I found it fascinating.


"Do no harm..." words from the Hippocratic Oath, is a memoir by eminent neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. As Mr. Marsh points out, writing with great candour and compassion, the brain surgeon can do great harm. Just a slip of a millimetre can make the difference between success or paralysis, or worse. Mr Marsh comes across both pompous yet at the same time humble, brilliant yet vulnerable but all the time showing great kindness towards his patients. It was a compulsive read that I really enjoyed... and I know I wouldn't want his job for anything!

There is a moment in the book when Mr Marsh refers to Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Although I now have no recollection of the context of the reference, I did remember it was a book Stewart had on his bookshelf, so have started to read this over the past few days. It is an interesting analysis of how and why we make choices and decisions but it is a bit slow going and repetitive and feels like reading a text book, so I'm not sure if I'll finish it. 


Of course long time readers of my blog will know this is not the only book club I belong to... The other one is just a small group of seven of us and we meet in each other's homes. This just about sums us up really...

14 comments:

  1. I do belong to a book club but I am finding that because I am such a slow reader, I borrow the books on tape version. That way I get to sew and quilt while someone reads to me.
    I do love seeing all of the wonderful baked goodies you make. Gluten free brownies would be great except that I'm not too fond of chocolate. The Guns and Roses cake was superb. Great artistry.

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  2. I don't have much time to read anymore but I do love it when I do. As a child I too remember the joy of saving my pocket money to buy and new book. Brooklyn looks q good read, I'm off to investigate.

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  3. I seem to have spates of reading one book after another, and then weeks go by before I read something else. I don't consider myself well-read but enjoy a wide variety of books including biographies, novels, those about country living, history, gardening and textiles. I have always loved books from an early age, and they have to be real books, not Kindle versions.

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  4. I have read Brooklyn and seen the film.I enjoyed both of them.I could not get into Nora Webster.I think his best book is Blackwater Lightship.I belong to my local U3A Reading Group.We have been together for 11 years!!!!We all suggest a book and that is how we make our programme.I should be going tomorrow but have had to cancel because my niece is calling ,unexpectedly,which is great.I am not too upset because the book is "Elizabeth is missing". very depressing when you are my age.

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  5. I love to read, and up until oh, I don't know, when I started blogging!!! I was never without a book to read. Now I spend my spare time on the computer. Terrible, I know. I do always give a list of books I would appreciate for gifts at Christmas (the only thing on my list usually). I read H is for Hawk (loved it!) and now have Vera Brittain's Testatmen of Youth. We watched the DVD a while ago and am looking forward to getting into this book. I've never belonged to a book club, but as a kid my mom would drop us four kids off at the library on Thursday nights while she did our week's grocery shopping. Best night of the week, even though our library was 10 miles from our home :)
    Wendy

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  6. I am in a book group but don't enjoy it much. The other women seem to take months to read a single book and we only meet very rarely. It is the yummy mummy brigade and I don't really fit in. I have always got a book on the go, usually more than one. I just finished 'History of the rain' by Niall Williams. I listened to the audio book after trying to read it twice. I just couldn't get into the flow of it and needed someone with a nice Irish accent to read the story to me (it is set in Ireland). It is such a wonderful touching book. I am fairly certain I read 'Do no harm'. I have poor retention skills and might be wrong. Happy reading. x

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  7. I used to read and read when I was young;first, books from the library, then books that I bought with birthday money etc. When the children were little, I had much less time and got out of the habit. Now I have more time again and am starting to enjoy reading once more. The trouble is, if I find a really good book, I can't put it down and then nothing else gets done!

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  8. No, not a book club member, though most of the libraries here have one. I don't think I'd cope with the pressure of having to read a certain title within a particular timescale and I worry my only contribution would be 'I enjoyed it' or 'I didn't enjoy it'. Have to say I do love books (cannot pass a bookshop or book stall), always have and hopefully always will. I usually opt for fiction but have to admit I'm getting worse at remembering what a book was about once I've finished it. Currently reading 'Disclaimer' which is a rather good twisty thriller.

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  9. Yes, I belong to a book group. This is our 11th year, with very few changes of personnel, so to speak. We all enjoy it, and meet at each others' houses in turn. I love it, it makes me read books I would not otherwise read, and I greatly enjoy our discussions too. X

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  10. I did until recently belong to a book club where friends meet up in one another's homes, but it meant travelling to another village, starting out too early in the evening and reading books from outdated library sets so I gave up. Now I discuss books with my DiL in letters or over the phone, enjoy her recommendations and those of bloggers who write about books. I'm enjoying reading at my own pace those books that I really want to read.

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  11. Sorry I missed last night, I read the book a year after Will's brain surgery.
    Pity to miss when I'd actually read the book!

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  12. I would like to belong to a book club, but I don't think I would be very good at getting the books read, I would like to expand my reading horizons though and I think that book clubs are a good way to do that. Enjoy yours!! xx

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  13. Great post Gina. I have Brooklyn on my shelf waiting to be read but there are one or two a head of that one to get through. I do try and read them in order of when I buy them and if I've been a bit shopaholic when it comes to books they can be there for a while. Sometimes they do occasionally queue jump if I just can't wait any longer then I have to hope that the book that has jumped the queue has been worth it. I'm in too minds as to whether I would like the Mr Marsh memoir. I work with Oncologists and Neuro surgeons on the admin side not the surgical side (thank goodness I hear you cry) and yes some have ego's the size of Everest but there are those who are just lovely and I am in orr of everything they do for the young people they look after.

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  14. Every time I read a wonderful post like this, I think I should read more! I used to. I keep thinking I'll have time for that when I'm old, but when exactly is that? Just read your post on mental illness which is so encouraging because I don't know anyone who isn't touched by it in their own lives, and yet it just isn't talked about enough. x

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