Book clubs have always been popular, particularly with female readers. But there are male only and mixed clubs as well. There are many different ways to organise clubs, but the one I am familiar with meets each month to discuss a book nominated by one of the members. So every member discusses the same book for about 15 minutes each.
The range of books offered for discussion is very broad and has covered Teen Fiction, heavy Medical tomes, biographies, histories, short stories, old and new novels, foreign books and almost every other genre imaginable. The members are generally elderly (+ 70) so there seems to be a bias toward non-fiction, with history a focus and war time history particularly.
The most recent book was Fire and Song by Anna Lanyon about the Mexican Inquisition in the 1500s. More particularly about the trials of Luis de Carvajal, who was Jewish but had practiced his faith secretly. He was eventually uncovered and brought to trial. The book has gone into extraordinary detail about the writings of the Court and Luis’ documentation of his feelings and ideas. Remarkably these have been preserved in the libraries in Mexico and Spain, so it is possible to get a good and accurate understanding of what went on. The topic was interesting, but some members found the writing style left a lot to be desired because it was too detailed and tended to be repetitive. The text lacked colour and was really a transcription of the voluminous detailed minutes of the court proceedings.
Another book recently discussed was The Selected Works of T S Spivet by Reif Larsen, which was targeted to Teenage readers, but was a suitable read for elder readers as well. This was a most unusual book with a large number of notes and drawings attached to the side of each page explaining what the hero of the book was doing. The boy who is the hero of this book is a savant and has difficulty relating to people. He is awarded a prize by the Smithsonian and he embarks on a solo journey from Montana to Washington to receive it, and his adventures are quite exciting. However it does stretch the bounds of credulity somewhat and the ending is a little flat.
The discussion nights are very interesting and most times everyone agrees on the merits of the book, but occasionally there is polite disagreement.
By The Literate Farmer
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