Monday 12 December 2011

Monday morning book talk...

As I sit here enjoying the sunshine and, of course, my hot cup of chai tea, I'm reflecting on my reasons for creating this blog, which are twofold.  The first is to share the highlights of my book group discussions and the second is to share with others the books that I'm reading in order to make recommendations.

We had our book discussion of A Christmas Carol on Friday, and it was, as usual, lively and interesting.  Most everyone agreed that it was somewhat difficult to read and understand, as the language was challenging.  One member, who is a retired high school English teacher, commented that when this was originally written, it was written for children, but now students in Grade 12 can barely get through it!  I guess it shows that language really does evolve.  Who knows what will happen to the English language now, as we really enter the computer age!  Another member commented that it was easier to understand if you listened to it as an audiobook, as you wouldn't get bogged down in the individual words, but you get more a sense of the tone of the story.  After this comment, many members read their favourite lyrical passages aloud, and with feeling, which was wonderful, something we don't often do in our meetings.  Of the seven of us who were there on Friday, all avid readers, only two members have read this story before, which I found interesting.  We're all familiar with the figure of Scrooge, probably through the film adaptations of this novella, although of the five people who had never read the story, three of us had never watched a whole film version, either.  And yet we all know the story... interesting!  This begs the question, "Is it really worth reading?"  Well, one of my members commented that she wished she had read it 20 years ago to more fully understand the story and the characters, since she's never liked the movie, which her family members insist on watching every year.  This year she will watch it with greater understanding and appreciation.  I think this falls into Italo Calvino's category of "Books that you have heard so much about that you feel you've already read them, so now it's time to really sit down and read them" (or maybe that's MY category!!)  We all agreed that Dickens is a master at description.  As someone pointed out, when a director wants to make a film adaptation of one of Dickens' books, he/she knows exactly what each character will look like and how they will act.   I would say, based on the discussion, and the enthusiasm demonstrated throughout the discussion, that this book selection was a success.

I was at a get-together with some of my husband's former colleagues on the weekend, and someone asked me for some book recommendations, which reminded me of the other reason I created this blog.  Before everyone found new jobs, including my husband, I would often get requests like this from people with whom he worked.  I think the highlight of my Readers' Advisory career with this group came when I recommended The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, which everyone loved.  I have to say, it's been difficult to sustain that level of unanimous popularity with a single book since then, but I thought if I began a blog and wrote about the books I've been reading and offered a list of our book club selections, I may fulfill the RA needs of my husband's workmates.  I don't know how successful my blog has been in terms of meeting those needs, but I'm trying to help in the most widely accessible way I can think of.

And I've discovered, while trying to meet these other needs, that I genuinely enjoy writing about books.  It's a great way to reflect on what I've read, not just my book club selections, and think about why I liked or didn't like something.  This has really helped me define my own reading tastes and put into perspective my responses to books and authors.  I'm so glad to have this opportunity to write about and share my book thoughts with you on a weekly basis.  Thanks for listening!!

And as I finish my tea, I'll also wrap up my post for today ...

Bye for now!


  1. I looooved The Sparrow! Did it not have a sequel or am I thinking of another book?


  2. It did have a sequel, "The Children of God" but I didn't enjoy it as much as "The Sparrow" (no surprise there).