Friday, 31 March 2017

The Evolution of a Book Club

I have written about the fact that I belong to two book clubs before...  One where we read books every month and the other where we don't! I may have even already mentioned how it is that I to belong to a book club where we don't read books... but I'm about to tell you again. Feel free to go away and come back next time if you've heard it before. To be fair as individuals we do all read a lot of books between us but not necessarily the same ones, however I digress.

Many years ago in a village near us there was a book club with members who were erudite and well read. The books they chose to read and discuss were worthy tomes filled with challenging ideas and deep themes, deserving of discussion. So when one particular member put forward the suggestion that one month they might read something a little lighter, frivolous even, there were mutterings and tuts and it was generally frowned upon. So in true anarchical style a break away group was formed of six or seven friends who just enjoyed a good book... And I was invited to join this little revolutionary group.


That was about seventeen years ago and in the beginning, every couple of months we met and took it in turns to suggest a book which we all read and then discussed in a gathering involving wine and nibbles, at one of our homes. We wanted a name for our club and after the first few books we realised that so far every book we had read had at least one sex scene and so "The Mucky Book Club" was born... or MBC as we became known! As the years passed, there was less emphasis on the books or the necessity for "mucky" content and far more emphasis on the wine and nibbles which evolved into full blown sharing suppers. We continued to meet and bring along books we had enjoyed to share with the others but even that has stopped in recent times. We now meet to eat, drink and chat and generally laugh and have a good time. As it was my turn to host recently I picked a tapas theme to the evening. Everyone brought along a dish or two along with a bottle of wine and as you see we had an absolute feast. There was tortilla, stuffed tomatoes, chorizo, devilled prawns, patatas bravas, artichokes, olives, sardines... it really was a feast and all so good.


There was much laughter as always and a wide range of topics discussed from funerals to flannels (the wash cloth variety... I'll say no more other than one of our group is a carer), pets to whiskery chins (female ones, we are with the exception of one, all of a certain age), travel and old age and all sorts of other things too... the only book discussed was the "Life in the UK" handbook because one of our group LeeAnne is an Australian citizen who has recently taken the Life in the UK test! She knows an awful lot more about UK life than the rest of us!


By the time pudding was served we were all very mellow indeed... Or slightly deranged if my face is anything to go by!


In keeping with the Spanish theme I made a Tarta Di Santiago, a cake of oranges and almonds eaten widely across Spain to celebrate the feast day of St James. It isn't a dagger you see before you...  but the cross of St. James 


I love Christine's face in this photo... very appreciative of the cake!


So no books, but good food, good wine, good conversation and most importantly good friends. And on Christine's suggestion it looks like we might just be changing the name of our little group, keeping MBC but altering it to the Munch & Banter Club!

As for my other book club, where although we do all read the same books each month it is never snobbish or elitist and we get through a wide range of topics from the deep and worthy ones to the frivolous too, we are currently reading The Muse by Jessie Burton. It's not often a story keeps me gripped right to the last page but this one did. The story is set between 1960's London where Odelle, recently arrived from Trinidad, is about to embark on a new job in an Art Gallery... one that will change her life, and in 1936 in rural Spain amid revolutionary uprising. The stories gradually come together solving the puzzle of a mystery painting. It is a pacy story, full of suspense and I can definitely recommend it.


Our book club choice last month was A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding. I didn't read it before the meeting as I didn't really fancy this account of Litvinenko's assasination but after the meeting I was intrigued to find out more so borrowed a copy. It's one that I'm dipping in and out of in between reading His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet which I'm really enjoying.


Reading anything good lately?

16 comments:

  1. Both of your book clubs sound excellent. I would love to go to one, alas I don't think there is one round here. I have just finished Caitlin Moran's Moranthology which was funny and positive and a nice easy read. And I've just abandoned something that was a pile of rubbish. I think The Happy Puppy Handbook is next on my pile! Hope you have a good weekend. CJ xx

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    1. If there is not one in your area, start one! Put up a notice in your local library or bookshop, or on social media, I'm sure you'll get a great response. Otherwise your local library mught know of local groups.

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  2. How fun. And that impish look on Christine's face is great.
    I'm waiting for a good book to keep my attention. It's been a while since anything other than how-to and memoirs have struck a chord with me.

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  3. I loved The Muse - even more than The Miniaturist!

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  4. Love the sound of your MBC club. That feast looks great fun. Enjoying ' A Sudden Light' by Garth Stein. Set in Seattle it is the story of a timber family told through the eyes of the youngest member. A beautiful read. Have a lovely weekend. B x

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    1. That sounds like a good book... I keep a list with me in case I see them in charity shops etc. have a good weekend

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  5. Love both your book groups! I too am part of a renegade group who broke away from the literatti who would not read anything that had sex in it, so we divided the group and we read whatever the library gives us. I am currently reading "The Vinegar Girl" and enjoying it very much. I have read most of the re-imagining of classics and some I have really enjoyed. I think the sociable aspect if a book group/club is very important as some of our group live alone/ have no one who's interested in reading etc. We read "The Minituarist" by Jessica Burton which had mixed reviews from the group-I found it slightly creepy! Happy eating and reading. Catriona

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    1. I enjoyed The Muse much more than the Miniaturist

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  6. Upton Sinclair's "It Can't Happen Here". Written in 1935, it's a warning for our times. PS if you read it, you'll definitely need the lovely drinks and food as a counter- balance! Christine

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    1. Another one to add to my list!

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  7. Sorry pardon, It Can't Happen Here is by Sinclair Lewis.
    Senior brain fail!

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  8. Gina, I am currently trying to catch up on blogs that I have missed during my March absence, and the topic of book clubs in your post definitely struck a chord.

    Learning to read way back when I was about five years old truly changed my life. In the past couple of years, I was a sort of infrequent participant in a friend's established book club. I always dutifully read the selected books, but noticed that gathering together for a light supper and wine played an essential part of each get together.

    We all enjoyed each other's company very much; however, it was "written" that the club was on its last legs, though its members dearly love to read and share comments about what we've read.

    Over on Instagram, I have connected with many avid readers, writers and even some book shop owners. This has shown me how many ways we do have to share books and authors that we love, and also to connect with writers whose books we might just be able to promote at our local bookshops and libraries.

    However...this online connecting certainly doesn't offer delicious cakes like what I've seen in your post. xo

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  9. Both of your book clubs sound like the sort that I would love to join, but cannot find! How great that you have the two different clubs to enjoy in different ways, you must love them!

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  10. ah the MBC sounds like my kind of book club! :)

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  11. I love reading about book groups, I am always fascinated by how they are organised, what is read/not read and how they evolve. Sounds like you have the best of both worlds, one book group where books are read and discussed, and one that has evolved into a supper club. I read 'The Miniaturist' by Jessie Burton and found it a real let down, so have avoided 'The Muse', but perhaps it is better? I recently read 'A Little Life' by Hanya Yanagihara which was utterley compelling and I can't get the main character out of my head, weeks after finishing the novel, so would reccomend it x

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  12. I love the idea of a book group without books. Our group has evolved from dips/crisps to feasts like yours - and sometimes the book feels like homework! I tend to prefer books that I've chosen for myself rather than feeling guilty about skimming through someone else's choice. Perhaps it's some kind of work ethic - we don't feel we deserve the wine without plodding through the book. I've no excuses this month as it was my turn to choose - but I'm still finding it's not quite what I'm in the mood for right now.

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