Reading group

We have been together now for some years, my friends and I in a book group started by me when Scout (now nearly 15) was about 3. I was fed up of reading the backs of cereal packets and not much else.I invited a few friends to see if anyone else was interested. Nearly everyone I asked was!

The group list comprises about 15 people – but fewer than 6 usually attend each meeting.There are various excuses and reasons. Many of us are going through the teenage years with our children. Some have moved away, but want to remain on the invite list, coming only for 3 or 4 meetings a year. Some have very busy jobs and find it very difficult to fit in reading time.

Every now and then a new member joins. Four meetings ago one such new member joined us. She hasn’t missed a meeting and has always read the book, and is just what we need… an injection of new enthusiasm.

The book tonight was John Updike’s ‘Run Rabbit’- a book written in 1959 and published in 1960, with follow-up books written at the end of the next two decades. I am tempted to go out and buy these straight away!

I loved reading this book… its style, its prose, its cleverness, its characterisation… I could go on and on. In its day it caused quite a stir, touching on sex, childbirth, male dominance and religion.

The meeting worked well: the book inspired discussion about characters, America, the American dream, religion, women’s role, the changes in women’s roles in family life, communication in families, or more accurately mis-communication, symbolism and metaphor and whether any of us has any empathy for the characters.

What other books, not necessarily current or prizewinning, would you suggest for our n ext few meetings that may encourage such a good discussion?

Author: Sarah

No time to lose. No, time to lose. Make time to stand and stare.... Did you see that?

13 thoughts on “Reading group”

  1. I am reading a wonderful book right now, it was just released two days ago in English.
    It is “The Lake” by Banana Yoshimoto. If that cannot be found, “Good By Tsugumi” is a fantastic read, as is “Amrita” all by the same author. If a more classic text is what you’re interested in, Natsume Soseki’s “Kokoro” is excellent, as is his “Botchan” which is a very light-hearted book.

  2. I belong to a reading group in France, when I’m around, and it has introduced me to works and authors I might never have discovered otherwise. Then I realised my daughter’s reading group was reading some of these books in translation, such as “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”. When taking part in her group we read “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” and “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society”. Perhaps you’ve already tried these, Pseu.

  3. I wish there was a reading group near me Pseu, I might look into starting one. I have made a note of the books mentioned here; good post Pseu, ta muchly.

  4. Not my cup of tea at all, must say I couldn’t care less what any others thought about a book.
    BUT I have noticed a recent trend here in the USA that might be of interest.
    I have picked up several books in the library of late, new issues, that have obviously been written for this market. Built into the book as an appendix were lists of ‘worthy’ questions for book clubs to ask at their meetings.
    A new form of worthy chick lit with faux social enquiry a la your penultimate para, all the same questions. Needless to say, hastily put back on the shelf!
    I note the library was promoting these doubtful rather ill written pieces of junk.
    Give you an example. One was a tale about a divorced woman whose ex turned out to be queer, got a new male partner and wanted her to adopt a brat for them! She was left looking after his mother couldn’t make a new relationship, you get the gist, waste of a good tree!

    Frankly I’d rather take up basket weaving, more productive!

  5. For me, Christina, the reading group has become much more than a meeting where we discuss what we have read, especially as it started out when we had small children and a juggled life balancing parenting against work etc – which of course has continued. We try to read what we may otherwise ‘pass by’ – stretching ourselves out of a comfort zone a little, interspersed by less challenging reads.

    Thank you for the suggestions. I shall have a look around at reviews and put together a suggested list of books for my group. We have done a few translations and foreign authors, but not many.

  6. Sorry, Pseu, its’ the “Potato Peel Pie Society” – set in wartime Guernsey.

  7. Good to hear it, from the look of this new genre that have the built in book circle appendix of questions, generally to be avoided like the plague!!!
    Venomously PC and generally trying to foist any deviancy and perversion as normality, yukk!

  8. Chris, joking apart! I actually used to when I lived in Wales. I used willow from the local streams and to keep it supple you have to leave it out in the long wet grass under a hedge or something like. I used to make large baskets for all sorts of things, the boy had several, now back with me.
    But I found working the wet cold willow was beginning to give my hands real trouble in my late 30s so gave it up and took up spinning instead. I had so many free fleeces it was ridiculous.
    The local Indians here do beautiful work but my God, the cost! They seem to work mainly in very coarse grasses, I have been tempted.
    So I have to constrain my unobtainable aspirations to underwater basket weaving and Bessarabian clog dancing with Portuguese!!!
    I suppose one must regret that one is never going to master these skills in this world or the next!
    Now there’s a thought…..

  9. CO: I was tempted to suggest underwater basket weaving as a course at uni. I decided against it because there was a very real chance that it would be accepted and probably fill up.
    In my part of rural California the local Indians weave pine needle baskets as well as bark/grass baskets. They also cost a fortune, but it is understandable considering how much work they put into it. Sourcing the materials, weaving… All of it takes time and effort. Sadly, not many make any larger baskets anymore. It’s too much work and no one is willing to give a fair price for them.

    My main unobtainable hobby is trying to find a sane leftist in San Francisco. So far I’ve had no luck, though I have often been amused when I actually grill them on their beliefs. Very rarely can they actually do anything but come up with new bumper-sticker comments to justify the previous one.

  10. Very timely, Pseu. I’m about to give up on Music and Silence by Rose Tremain as “not my cup of tea.” And I was thinking of going for Fay Weldon but I might instead try a little John Updike. A friend raves about his Rabbit books and his massive following was evident when he appeared at Hay Fest.

    I like the idea of a reading group. Companions, books and wine are an excellent combination. I just don’t have time for one. For the future mebbe.

  11. It is a lovely group, Jan and I have made some excellent friends through it. No men though…. not on purpose. It would be interesting to get a more balanced male versus female view at times.

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