Friday, 29 November 2013

To finish or not to finish?


   Today at book club, one of the members decided not to finish Maeve Binchy's "A Week in Winter".  The book did not capture her in the first 50 pages and her belief is that there are thousands of books, so why read a book that does not interest you?
   In part, I wish that I could adopt that stance.  However, when reading for a book club, I push through.  I always feel that if the book has been chosen, there must be something interesting about that book.  In fact, I have been heard to say that there must be a pony in this pile of....

   Well, I am having trouble finding a pony or anything resembling one in my recent book club choice.
"Dogs at the Perimeter" by Madeleine Thien is really challenging me.  I have read half of the book and hated every minute of reading.  I really should stop, right?
  But the book was in the Canada Reads' list of 40 books that could change the nation.  It is advertised as "a nightmare of a story, a dream of a novel".  It was not chosen for the contest this year, but since it was mentioned it must have some value.  Right?  If I push through the 'nightmare', will I come to the 'dream'?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Books 'on the road'

  We spent a week on a bus trip with the Drayton Entertainment Travel Group.  Wherever I go, I am aware of people reading or talking about books.
  Early in the trip, I overheard a woman talking very passionately about One Book One Community.  I also love O.B.O.C. and always read and discuss the book.  This year I was particularly impressed and excited.  So was Jackie.
  I was also delighted that Jackie had decided to read "Shepherd of the Hills" in preparation for the trip to Branson.  The book tells about the early days of Branson and I read it many years ago.
  I am always happy to see fellow travallers that are reading and willing to talk about books.

Eleanor was sitting behind us, and was often engrossed in reading.
   We began talking about Alice Munro because she just won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Eleanor had a fascinating story about Alice.
  Over twenty years ago, Eleanor's husband gave her a gift-wrapped copy of one of Alice's books.  And he had arranged for a private signing at her house- something Eleanor will never forget.  She loves to re-read "Lives of Girls and Women" as well as many of Alice Munro's earlier books.

  Merle always has a smile.  And she is willing to share her love of books.  She enjoys the books of John Grisham, and especially enjoyed "The Racketeer". When she wants something lighter, she reads Janet Ivanovich and Nora Roberts.
   Lots of happy people on the bus, and sharing our love of reading is a great way to connect.

   Emma's favourite book is the book of Life- her life.  She is an amazing woman who sees life as a book.  She grew up in an Old Order Mennonite family where she discovered reading and was transported.
   She looks back, at 76, to her life as a book.  She talks about her three children in three years.  There were two husbands who needed care at the end of their lives.  In fact she said, "We walked together to heaven's gates, rang the bell and then he went in and I went back to find myself again".
   Emma's life is an amazing book!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Battle of the Books

   This book club makes book selections in November for the following year.  What an experience!  We call it 'the battle of the books', and sometimes it gets 'heated'.  Those who are really anxious to promote one certain book, have to convince everyone.  The hardest sell that I remember was "Beowulf".  Sandi finally wore us down and we agreed to give it a try.

It's always exciting to settle on a full year of reading.  
And this book group does not take a break in the summer.  
So we meet 12 times a year for discussions and once to set the books for the next year.
Every other month we read a classic.
I have been reading with this group for fifteen years!

My personal favourites:
My two all-time favourite books were read in this group- "Far From the Madding Crowd" by Thomas Hardy and "Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver- one classic and one contemporary.

Other contemporary books that I loved:
The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd
The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay
No Great Mischief - Alistair MacLeod
My Antonia - Willa Cather
The Kite Runner - Khalel Hossieni

Other classic favourites:
The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
All Passion Spent - Vita Sackville-West
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Of Human Bondage - Somerset Maugham
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe

In 15 years, we have read many of the well-known classics.  However, this group has no problem finding new options, and this year, it seems, they chose such obscure books that we cannot get enough copies to read.  The library system discarded them long ago. Guess they weren't favourites for anyone else.  But we may revive them - if we can just find a copy!