Books, Bookclub and a Book Year

This week I received my first book from my very own Bibliotherapist, courtesy of my Book Year with Mr B’s book emporium. Based in Bath the bookshop sounds delightful, and when I heard about a gift certificate that granted me a book recommended based on my interests, for the best part of a year, I knew what I was asking for for my birthday. Getting post itself is a novel experience, but getting a brown paper wrapped parcel with a wax stamp is super exciting. Having someone suggest a book I might like, a book they think is good, something new and different appeals to me. There are so many books out there, yet it’s easy to settle into a routine and get into a rut with the books that you read. That was the motivation behind starting my Bookclub last year, and I see my book year as an extension of that. I’m super excited to get started.

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Bookclub is going from strength to strength, and January’s meeting was our most successful ever. Credit for this not only goes to a slight increase in advertising, but to the new year resolution effect and the fact that we had a real life author joining us.

Way back in October I’d been browsing a lovely little independent bookstore in a village near my home town and saw a recommendation for a book called The Coincidence Authority by a certain John Ironmonger. The cover’s bright colours and tag line resonated with my penchant for pretty things and my own relationship and so it seemed like a no brainer type of purchase. Tucked up in a Books Are My Bag carrier, I left as a very happy bibliophile. This happiness continued as I read the novel, a gorgeous tale of two people whose views on the occurrences of life they can barely seem to agree on anything. Mixed up with a crazy back story of the female protagonist and more than a smattering of fascinating, heart wrenching. Ugandan history, it was a brilliant and engaging work. I enjoyed it so much that I tweeted my approval, only to be responded to by the author himself, thanking me for my kind words. Despite being relatively unfamiliar with the ways of twitter, we somehow struck up a conversation the result of which was the very lovely Mr Ironmonger agreeing to join our Bookclub for an evening.

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Which is how, on the fourth Wednesday of January, Bookclub members regular, long absent and new, descended on a cozy corner of a bar to hear about the life and works of a multitalented bloke from Shropshire. And mostly we discussed Coincidences, what with them being the theme of the book and all, it seemed the right thing to do. Coincidences, or surprisingly statistically probable events – depending on whether you’re a Thomas or an Azalea, are common events. Everybody can reel off a list of things that you just wouldn’t believe. Like me bumping into a university friend at a hostel in Venice, which, coincidentally was something that had also happened to a fellow bookclubber. Like my fella googling reviews for crampons and finding the most useful source of information on the blog of a boy he was a cadet with. Like a lady giving birth to her child on her birthday. Or me buying John Ironmonger’s book from a bookshop hundreds of miles from either of our homes but where he knows the owner. Mostly coincidences just seem to reinforce how small the world is.

A small world it might be but there are no small number of books for us to read, and when I mean books I mean those tangible, page filled bindings that you can flick through and share, and smell and store for years on crowded bookshelves. I don’t want to miss out on anything good, and so I long for recommendations. John Ironmonger came with a few of his own, and while the genre of Victorian Women Boxers isn’t one I’d come across before, I’m certainly looking forward to getting stuck in. Not in the literal sense of course.

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