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...