This week, we have been showcasing our Reading Group collections (see our previous post for some other highlights). Today, as we draw nearer to the end of Spring and head off into Summer, we’ve had some great reviews from our Reading Groups that may help you select titles for your next meeting and that will, hopefully, persuade you to try something different and brighten up your day!
The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
Historical fiction set in 17th century Iceland that features pirates and looks at life from a woman’s perspective whose views would not otherwise have been voiced. Chosen for Zoe Ball’s ITV Book Club, and with a hugely eye-catching cover, this got some great reviews from our groups:
“Enjoyed by everyone- we found it interesting with regard to the hardship of everyday life in Iceland, and the wonderful description of the harsh landscape, as well as the contrasting way of life in the comparative luxury of Algeria. Very well written and researched, and a good read.”
Wellesbourne Bishop’s group
“Based on true people and events, but woven into Icelandic myths, offering a multi-layered story. Very different and very interesting.”
Carolyn’s Group, Warwick
The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
Translated from French into English, this explores the power of words and reading. At the end of every day, Guylain leaves his job in a book pulping plant but rescues a few pages to read aloud. One day, on the train home, he opens the diary of Julie, a lonely young woman with whom he soon falls in love but will Guylain find the real Julie and words on a page become real?
“This was “something completely different” and an excellent reading group title. Plenty to discuss without being too serious. Difficult to define the genre, though there were votes for fairy-tale / quest. The group enjoyed the unreal qualities of the book. All agreed that the language was wonderful, engaging and an amazing translation from the French by Ros Schwartz.”
Wellbeing Reading Group at George Eliot Hospital
The Garden Party & other stories by Katharine Mansfield
This was the last collection of short stories published before Katherine Mansfield died in 1923. In the title short story, class consciousness and mortality is explored while the other stories collected together provide examples of literary modernism.
“A collection of short stories, both sad and funny, and always written with the shadow of the author’s illness overhanging them all. The stories, coupled with a fascinating account of the author’s life, as portrayed by an introduction and notes by Lorna Sage, were read with interest and enthusiasm.”
Newbold on Avon reading group.
When bad news is received and made worse by the loss of their home, Raynor and her husband Moth make the life-changing decision to walk the South West Coast path, a 630 mile path from Dorset to Somerset. This book follows their journey and the ups and downs they face.
“This generated a very good discussion, and the entire group really enjoyed the book—the humour and sadness during the epic walk. Plus the author’s ability to bring up important topics: homelessness, government cover-ups, forest destruction.
Written from the heart, honest and humble.”
Life Book Group
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Taken from the blurb: Ruth discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore of her beach home. Within it lies a diary that expresses the hopes and dreams of a young girl. She suspects it might have arrived on a drift of debris from the 2011 tsunami. With every turn of the page, she is sucked deeper into an enchanting mystery
“This is a remarkable book that engaged the entire group on so many levels. We were unanimous with our praise of this book. Contained within a great story are elements of philosophy, religion, ecology, teenage angst, bullying, history, war and quantum mechanics. The characters are very real and draw the reader into their worlds. The story unfolds across time and an ocean, and each world is thought-provoking and engrossing. Japanese and Western cultures are paralleled whilst the book has a complete circular feel.
This is an unusual novel that has so many levels, it is difficult to describe, but we would encourage any group to read this. It will touch their lives.”
Educated by Tara Westover
Growing up preparing for the ‘End of Days’, Tara Westover didn’t exist according to official channels – she had no birth certificate, no school or health records. This book tracks how she broke away from an increasingly violent home life and the education she fought so hard to achieve.
“A really powerful memoir. Not an easy read, but very thought-provoking. The book touches on religion, home education, family, domestic violence. One of the most interesting aspects was the idea of memory- how, over time, fact can become fiction, and change.”
Mighty Oaks, Rugby
“A stimulating book, generating much discussion, inspiring and informative—showing how important education was to move on in life.”
A Place called Winter by Patrick Gale
When circumstances force him to flee from the wealth of Edwardian England to the wilds of the Canadian prairies, Harry Cane has to address his privilege and adapt to new ways speedily and thoroughly.
“This book generated a very positive discussion. It was described as “unputdownable” There was a definite appreciation of the portrayal of privileged life- Edwardian England and the harsh contrast of life as a “ homesteader” in bleak , challenging Canada. Riveting- a jolly good read. Gale’s effortless and wonderful writing style impressed us all.”
Arley Reading group
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
As a Harvard professor, Alice Howland seems to have it all – the career, the husband, the family. But on the day she forgets a key word while giving a lecture, the world starts to change as the onset of Alzheimer’s Diseass starts to take its toll on her short term memory and Alice must face an uncertain future.
“Disturbing , informative, uplifting, definitely worth a read – some of the reactions of our book group members. The book was unanimously appreciated, though some found the subject matter difficult to deal with.
Charting the progress of early onset Alzheimer’s from the point of view of Alice, a clever, lively academic, we feel the impact of the disease, whilst the novel also raises many wider ethical points for discussion—family priorities, wider professional responsibilities, suicide, genetics, scientific research.
The novel works because it all rings true. Excellent.”
The Wild Places by Robert McFarlane
Exploring the wild places of the British Isles, Robert McFarlane’s book mixes history, nature and exploration.
“A good discussion on each chapter, with many contributions from personal experiences. A book which could be “dipped into” “
Wellesbourne Bishop’s reading group
“Well-written- fascinating insights on these wild places. It is lyrical and contains a lot of interesting facts. It opens minds to the state of the world.”
And lastly, if you haven’t read this, then please do – we highly recommend it!
Let me tell you about a man I knew by Susan Fletcher
Vincent van Gogh, forbidden love and passion – what more could you want? You won’t be disappointed.
You can browse our full Reading Groups collection here and if you’re interested in starting your own group, there’s guidance and all you need to know to become a Reading Group member of Warwickshire Libraries. We hope that you’ll find books to stimulate conversation, spark debate and provide lots of entertainment for your meeting.