The nights will soon be getting lighter and the opportunity to read outside is on the horizon (fingers crossed for some warm weather in the coming months). For your perusal, here are the Spring Recommendations from Reading Groups in Warwickshire and a whistle stop tour through some of the newer titles in the Collection.
Milkman by Anna Burns
Our first selection for this month is an award-winning novel that offers a different reading experience as a group in Bidford explain:
“…this book was one of the best I have read. Engaged totally with the ‘stream of consciousness’ and felt the reality of it all. At one level, a local story, at another the difficulty of being especially a woman in, I assume, Belfast. It has a flow like Joyce and Beckett. Recommended but the ‘stream of consciousness’ may not be liked and readers have to get in to it and give it a go. Don’t give up!”
‘Milkman’ won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019 (this year’s Longlist has just been announced with some fantastic books listed).
The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jefferies
If you’re looking for an “easy but interesting read” then this could be the book, according to a group based in Stratford. They felt that this novel has some “Very interesting historical aspects – well researched and presented. The uneasy relationships between the sisters left the reader thinking and wondering how it may progress. This feeling of uncertainty was woven around Nicole’s relationships with others.”
The Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam
Not every book receives glowing reviews when we get your feedback forms but we think that even those books that some groups don’t enjoy may provoke discussion and spark conversations. This one is no exception.
“Discussion generated but concentrated on how we did not enjoy this book and would not recommend. Seriously obsessed with monkey mating habits. Writing style lacked flow. Anthropomorphising monkeys, giving them their own words was not conducive to empathising with the message”.
What will your group make of it?
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
One that could be used to answer the age old question – is the book or the film better?
“This proved to be a real page turner and was a choice that proved a success for all members of the group. Some people claimed that what was achieved to enable the escape from the mountain was unrealistic, but on the whole we thought this did not matter at all and enjoyed the drama, particularly towards the end. It was almost tempting to jump to the end to find out if they did survive but I think we all resisted. We would recommend this – you won’t be able to put it down!” – from a group in Southam.
The Last of the Greenwoods by Clare Morrall
If you like your fiction set close to home, this one is set in a field outside Bromsgrove. Two elderly brothers live in adjoining railway carriages. No one visits and they never speak to each other. Until the day Zohra Dasgupta, a young postwoman, delivers an extraordinary letter.
The thoughts of one of our groups from Budbrooke: “Most of us enjoyed the book but found it a little far-fetched in places. The characters are well drawn. The situations (places) are clear but there seem to be many threads. It was interesting to see how modern social media has affected the lives of people in the book. We all liked the ending. We’d recommend as a fun read and think it might make a good film”.
The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting (translated from Norwegian by Paul Russell Garrett)
One of the newer titles in our Reading Group Collection (see below for some other newly added titles).
From a group in Southam: “A very good book group choice and highly recommended, although you need time – not a book to be rushed, rather savoured. We loved the history, the characters, the settings, the imagery, the fabulous way it is woven together. Some of us have already ordered more by Lars Mytting. Special mention to Paul Russell Garrett who translated – it made us think of the great books written in languages other than English that don’t reach us in translation and we miss out on.
We’d absolutely recommend it (unless you are a group that finds 400 pages a bit of a stretch – we don’t usually opt for such long books. Several members didn’t finish and one found it didn’t move along quickly enough).
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
If your group enjoys a challenging read, then according to a group based in Newbold-on-Stour, this might be a good choice for you:
“Unanswered questions. Complex relationships. Very little known about parents and their past. Not a comfortable read. Recommended as an interesting, challenging read. Not easy – note taking whilst reading does help”.
The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson
Two group reviews for this one:
From a group in Leamington: “Very good discussion with mixed reviews, although all the group felt Christie Watson was an excellent writer. Some thought it was too technical and medical. Some thought she was ‘blowing her own trumpet’. Some would recommend it, others definitely not.”
“An excellent choice for a book club as it generated much discussion. Some members loved the book but an equal number hated it so it gave much opportunity for strong views to be expressed. Some members struggled to finish it, but for those who persevered, it gave a good insight into what it’s like working in the present day NHS” – from a group based in Southam.
The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber
From a group in Coleshill: “Animated discussion. Everyone enjoyed the book. It was very informative, visual and we thought it might make a good film. A sequel might be a good idea. Highly recommended. Very well written and absorbing.”
“Excellent discussion. Marks ranged from 7 out of 10 to 10 out of 10. We loved the background to the story – the mountains, meadows, massacre and all the other early Mormon history. There was excellent tension throughout the book. We would have liked a bit more complexity in the story. Definitely recommended – we learned about a different time, place, and culture with two main characters who we empathised with”.
We’ve also added some new titles to our collection (and we’ll look forward to reading your reviews in the future and may very well feature them in future blogs).
In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark
The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Beneath the Surface by Fiona Neill
If you want to know more about the Reading Group Collection, have a look here or pop into your local Warwickshire Library and have a chat with our staff. If you’re thinking of setting up a group, you’ll also find advice on our pages or The Reading Agency have this guide.