Yes, my book group is 5 years old this week. Over the years we have read 62 books together. We’ve loved some and we’ve hated others. Unfortunately I suspect that our current read is likely to be added to the latter type.
I’m fortunate to belong to a library book group. North Lanarkshire Council started these – I think there are about 12 of them now – as part of their reader development program. The upside is that the library provides the reading material. The downside that choices are often restricted to books in paperbacks for obvious budgetary reasons. This it is a small price to pay – better that than no bookgroup at all and you know, some of us – actually me – need all the help we can get with the virtue of patience!
My group meets on the second Monday of the month and average attendance is 15-20. We meet in Motherwell Library, a fine victorian building, the entrance of which bears testimony to its raison d’etre. With increasing space in libraries being devoted to film and music, and book budgets being slashed, it’s heartwarming to see North Lanarkshire Council continuing to promote and support reading with its book groups and even its own literary festival! (The Words 2009 program is here.)
We like to vary things with extraordinary meetings. October 2006 saw us celebrate Motherwell Library’s 100th anniversary. We did that by reading 3 classics published in 1906. In October 2008 Janice Galloway entranced us while talking about her novel Clara, a book we had read a couple of months previously. In October 2008, Charles Cumming delighted us all with his tales of espionage. Another highlight was a trip to the theatre in Edinburgh to see To Kill A Mockingbird . The lowlight occurred during the fire alarm that sounded on one cold blustery evening. Typical! One year we entered the Penguin/Orange Reader’s Group Prize and for that we had to give ourselves an identity and a vision. We christened ourselves Well-Read in Motherwell.
The question is are we? What does our reading list say about us? What do you think? What should we read that we haven’t? The time is right to ask as we are about to choose a new batch of books. Suggestions in comments, please, and if your book makes its way through the selection process you can be sure that I’ll report back in full.
In the meantime let me express my personal thanks to North Lanarkshire Council for the last five years of reading pleasures and the occasional displeasure. (Reading poor books isn’t all bad. It helps appreciate good books all the more!). Thanks also to the librarians for coping with my obsessions! Keep up the good work. Here’s to the next 5!