Happy Birthday Bookclub

Last year I wrote but never published the following blog. A year on I feel it’s high time I shared it.

“I am a member of a BookClub, is that lame and geeky? I don’t think I’m a geek though. I mean yes, I am a bit of a geek; my favourite TV show is University Challenge and my ultimate board game is Trivial Pursuit; does that make me a geek? Maybe, although I know I’m not alone in these intellectual past times. Granted, I’m from a university background; almost all of my friends went to uni, I studied at University of Glasgow and along with my two best friends came away with a first. It doesn’t exactly scream of cool now does it? That being said, being a bit of a nerd; looking a bit dorky; wearing thick rimmed glasses, which were the hallmark of a 90s loser is now the epitome of fashion; it isn’t the social black hole it once was. It’s ok to be a geek.

Stephen Fry;Brian Cox, even Hermione Granger. We’ve seen people who, ordinarily would be locked away, furring their brows over algorithms and philosophies, break into the mainstream.  Granted my generation, storming into our chosen career sector, are hopefully beyond the teasing and peer pressure of high school, and now our chosen hobbies leave our friends baffled, asking  “why? But why? Do you have to?” rather than bullying. But surely seeing the glorification of knowledge, and swots as pin ups has encouraged people to be open and honest about their interests however  geeky they may be.

It’s for the better really. The BBC published an article about how people who read are happier. Well if that isn’t enough to get your popping down to the nearest Waterstones I don’t know what is. Who doesn’t want to be happier? Who doesn’t want to open their mind, broaden their knowledge and escape for a little while from the reality around them? Who is going to turn around and say, ‘ah no, you’re alright, I’m actually about as happy as I can get’. Not possible. Not in this economy, with this weather, not with X Factor being re-commissioned.  I wouldn’t believe them.

The problem with a lot of the book clubs that are out there is that they are daytime events populated by the newly retired. A quick scan of the internet shows that most groups of this type happen on an afternoon in a cosy little library. Enough time for the over 60s to have played an early round of golf and fussed around in their garden for a little while. What they don’t factor in is that there are hundreds of writers and readers out there who work full time and who don’t use libraries. That there are a tonne of potential attendees who are too busy sending emails and going to business lunches to be able to spare a couple of hours mid afternoon to chat about literature.

What’s more, people don’t want to dissect Dickens over coffee, or contemplate the motive behind why something made it on to the bestseller list while sipping on a cup of tea. Oh no, in my opinion, humble though it may be, books club in particularly should be flush with two things; talk about books, and alcohol. Be it gin or wine, a conversation about the unexpected twist in a novel flows far nicer with a % thrown into the mix.

Hence my decision to start a bookclub. In an evening. In a busy town centre bar. With my twenty something other half. Primarily advertised on social media; we tweeted our way into the town’s consciousness and will hopefully have a fair few members when we launch later this month. Maybe it’ll even be fairly cool, you know, the kind of alternative event that people want to be part of. Maybe our bookclub won’t be full of people who play boules and bridge; maybe they’ll be young people and we’ll talk about the books, and have a few drinks and be cool, but you know kind of geeky cool”.

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Last week Bookclub celebrated it’ first birthday and you know what it worked.

There was cake, there were literary cocktails and there was a whole lot of excellent book chat with lovely geeky cool people.

One of the reasons I started Bookclub was to meet people, and in this sense it has been a roaring success as I have met some really lush people, without whom Bookclub wouldn’t be possible. It’s great that there is a core contingent, people who come every month as well as new members joining us every month. We have a fairly democratic method of selecting books and aim to read books we wouldn’t ordinarily choose, for this reason we have read some brilliant books over the past 12 months.

The complete year (April 2014-April 2015) looks like this

  • Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch
  • The Shock of Fall, Nathan Filer
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
  • The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden, Jonan Jonanasson
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, James Hogg
  • The Snowman, Jo Nesbo
  • Carrie, Stephen King
  • Madam, Cari Lynn
  • Skipping Christmas, John Grisham
  • The Coincidence Authority, John Ironmonger
  • One Summer, 1927, Bill Bryson
  • The Fair Fight, Anna Freeman
  • Address Unknown, Catherine Kressman Taylor
  • Skellig, David Almond

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I am super excited for the next year, for the books we will read, the new people that will join us and the gin we will drink.

There is more treasure in books that in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island

Walt Disney

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