Tag Archives: book club

the winner is…

Book club voted and the winner is…

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson.

So far a few very keen readers have finished the book and are impressed – that bodes well.  I am about half way through and am quite compelled by it.  It is very different to what I thought it was going to be.  From page one you feel a little chilled, like something isn’t quite right in ‘the castle’.  The characters are enticing from the start and despite their strangeness you feel a warmth and empathy towards them.  I have no idea how it is going to end (which is how I like it!).


As I may have mentioned here before, our lovely little book club has a fabulous method when choosing our next book.  One person chooses 3 options and then the group votes.  It means we all feel like we are involved and it also means we read a huge range of books.  So far we have read everything from Dracula to Lolita to Cannery Row.

This month it was my turn to pick our three possibilities.  You do feel a bit of pressure in the process – you want to get it right.  But you also know that this is your chance to suggest 3 books you are really keen to delve in to.  So here are my 3 options (I’ll let you know what gets voted in!).

The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) – by Henri Alain-Fournier

When Meaulnes first arrives at the local school in Sologne, everyone is captivated
…by his good looks, daring and charisma. But when Meaulnes disappears for
several days, and returns with tales of a strange party at a mysterious house
and a beautiful girl hidden within it, he has been changed forever. In his
restless search for his Lost Estate and the happiness he found there, Meaulnes,
observed by his loyal friend Francois, may risk losing everything he ever had.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle – by Shirley Jackson
Living in the Blackwood family home with only her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian
for company, Merricat just wants to preserve their delicate way of life. But
…ever since Constance was acquitted of murdering the rest of the family, the
world isn’t leaving the Blackwoods alone. And when Cousin Charles arrives,
armed with overtures of friendship and a desperate need to get into the safe,
Merricat must do everything in her power to protect the remaining family.

One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThis brutal glimpse of Russia under Stalin shocked the world when it first appeared.
Discover the importance of a piece of bread or an extra bowl of soup, the
…incredible luxury of a book, the ingenious possibilities of a nail, a piece of
string or a single match in a time where survival is all. Enter a world of
incarceration– and participate in the struggle of men to survive both the
terrible rigours of nature and the inhumanity of the system that defines their
conditions of life.

penguin bonanza

I realised this week that my 4-year-old thinks that I read lots of books about penguins.  She sees a Penguin Classic with the iconic penguin character so often around the house she has come think that I have quite the fascination with penguins.  It made me smile when earlier this week she asked me if my ‘book about penguins’ was good!  Ahh, so cute…and so observant!

It has been a little bit of a penguin bonanza of late.

This month’s book club pick was Sonya Hartnett, Of a Boy.  We haven’t had our book club discussion about this book yet, so I’ll keep my thoughts here to a minimum, except to say, I could have lived without this one.  I struggle with books that are obscure for the sake of it.  While Of a Boy had some definite overarching themes, the end of the book did little to address these themes.  It dipped so quickly in and out of the lives of its characters there was no time to gather a real sense of who they were or develop any warmth towards them.  The end of the book is horrifically tragic and left you feeling distressed and disturbed.  Undoubtedly, book our book club discussion will be an interesting one this month!

So on a lighter and much more fun note; I have also stumbled across a range of Penguins that I never knew existed.  There is incredibly fun series called the Penguin Ink which are covers done in the style of classic tattoos.  Bridget Jones’ Diary looks almost readable carrying a cover like this!

The Great Love series is another Penguin set that had slipped under my radar.  They are not only designed beautifully, they are a range of amazing books from a incredible cross-section of authors.  There a quite of few of my favourite Russians represented and a few surprises, like Updike and Kierkegaard, and overall a fantastic collection of books.

Penguin says about them, ‘United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love’s endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love, not to mention lost love, twisted and obsessional love…

See the entire set here.

And finally, the best till last!  This extraordinary series of Penguin’s is called the Great Ideas Series (1-4). It is a collection of world changing books that have impacted individuals and entire societies.  It is an incredibly diverse collection of books and authors, ranging from Cicero, St John, Orwell, Freud, St Augustine, Kant and Du Bois.  Such a beautifully put together collection, not only designed well, but I love the unapologetic way they have placed rival books and contradicting ideas side by side.  If I could, this series would be finding its way to my door sooner rather than later.

top 5

I know summer is not quite over yet, but I don’t think any other book I am reading is going to make it into my top 5 for the summer. So here is the top 5 for the Summer of 2009/2010.

Summer Meditations, Vaclav Havel (amazing, insightful, honest and raw – it doesn’t get better than this)

Everything is Illuminated, Jonathon Safran Foer (heartbreakingly beautiful)

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck (Steinbeck at his perceptive best)

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (deeply impacting, huge potential to change your life – be warned!)

The Reader, Berhard Schlink (bittersweet)

And in some exciting news…Popular Penguins (which is essentially our Book Clubs’ reading list) is releasing 75 new books in June!  I am eagerly awaiting the release list and have high hopes!  We’ll see what eventuates!

slow readers book club

Am I biting off more than I can chew?

I love this idea and I particularly like exploring the idea of an online book club.  But is it one thing too many?  Between kiddies, Uni, Italian Classes, Popular Penguin Book Club, and everything else, is it too much?


book club II

We have a date, a time and a place.  Now we just need the book! We have narrowed it down to three possibles for our first book.  They are:

Eva Luna, Isabel Allende

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

Secret History, Donna Tratt

Any thoughts or recommendations?

book club

I love the idea of a book club. I love reading and books and words and I love a chance for a good discussion about any of the above.  So a friend, who is as equally enamoured with books, and I thought, ‘Let’s do it’.  So finally – a book club! I am very excited! And even more exciting is the book list we are using – the amazing Popular Penguin’s.  So many good books to choose from!  My current ‘must read’ list of Popular Penguins is as follows (it gets longer by the day!)

The Age of Reason, Jean-Paul Satre
And the Ass Saw the Angel,  Nick Cave
Cannery Row, John Steinbeck
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Eva Luna, Isabel Allende
Everything is Illuminated, Johnathon Safran Foer
For the Term of His Natural Life, Marcus Clarke
The Getting of Wisdom, Henry Handel Richardson,
Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
One Day in the Life of Ivan, Aleksandr Denisovich Solzhenitsyn
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Regeneration, Pat Barker
A Room of Ones Own, Virginia Woolf
The Shadow of the Sun, Ryszard Kapuscinskui

I have also just finished reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  I am glad I read it, mostly because it has a reputation of being a bit of a classic.  Honestly, it was a tad boring in parts and a little tedious. But in other moments you could visiualise and almost smell the red azalea’s growing outside the morning room that du Maurier describes (for example!).  I can see why it has such a cult following, du Maurier must have been an impressive lady and certainly must have pushed the literary boundaries of her time.  I don’t think I will be reading any more of her books but I am glad to finally be able to tick Rebecca of my list.  

Now it’s on to The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinskui.  I’m not waiting for the book club for this one!