Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Books

2016 has been a bit of a year of change for us. I thought it would be nice to post about the books we've read for the year with a view to writing individual posts on the books over the coming weeks.

In 2016 we read:
  1. The Hourglass Factory - Lucy Ribchester
  2. Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes
  3. The Humans - Matt Haig
  4. The Glorious Heresies - Lisa McInerney
  5. The Power - Naomi Alderman
NB: We added: Queen of the Desert by Georgina Howell to the list, but we haven't finished reading yet! Oops!

From book number 4 onwards we decided to slant towards feminist/ women's literature so we also individually picked out the following to read and share with each other:
  • Fear of Flying - Erica Jong
  • My Life on the Road - Gloria Steinem
  • The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters 
  • Negroland - Margot Jefferson
Incidentally, we picked the above from this blog post.

This reading challenge helped us pick books in 2016.
Looking forward to our 2017 reads!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Book Group - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Our lovely book group!

So this is our book group! Or at least some of it. The truth of the matter is, we rarely meet in our entirely, but there's always a core of about four people in attendance. Over the years we've made a rule that it's always ok to come to the group without finishing the book - it's about friends and fun first and foremost, and our love of reading after that!

In 2014, we submitted to be part of a programme with Reading Groups and the Women's Prize for Fiction where reading groups were given copies of shortlisted books and read and then reported back to the Women's Prize. We were selected (a book group made up of people mostly working at the largest art's festival in the world is pretty compelling!) and the above photo was taken to go on their blog.

Our book was Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie.

We all really enjoyed the book - we were a little bit divided about the ending - some thought it was a bit of a cop out and some loved it! But, you know we love a good division in opinion.

Here are some resources you can use to help with your book group discussions:
Beyond these questions, we did spend a lot of time talking about race, expectation, honour and loyalty as these were themes very prevalent throughout the book.

Have you read this book on your own or part of a book group? We would love to hear what you think!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Book Group - Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell represents the first ever book we read at book group. There were some trials and errors along the way. Firstly, on the night in question there were only two of us that could make it and, for the first meet up - we felt a bit of a let down! As well as this, neither of us had quite finished the book (we were very close!) and so when we accidentally picked up the wrong questions, we didn't realise for the first couple of questions! Oops! However, a quick recovery was made when we looked up some more questions and had a good old chat about the book, as well as a plan for the future of the book group.

These are the sites we (eventually) used for the discussion:
So whilst this isn't the first book group blog post, this book here represents the first official meet up!

Do you have similar story about setting up your book group? Or were you free from mishaps right from the start. Let us know!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Book Group - N-W by Zadie Smith

On the Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist for 2013 - N-W by Zadie Smith was probably one of hte books that divided us the most.

We met in the summer and the weather was so lovely that we met out on the Meadows with some lovely wine, nibbles and chat. As a whole, opinions were extremely mixed - one of the group even stopped reading after a certain point (no spoilers!) and others simply lapped it up, loving the narative style.

It's a little tough to find some questions for discussion but what we found and used is here:
Has anyone else read this book for book group? What are your thoughts - they are always welcome!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Book Group - How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman represents the only book from book group that, although I have read, I could not make it. It was picked as we'd heard it was an up and coming novel - it was a good price in the Kindle story and to purchase.

It's a relatively new novel (2013), which means there's not too much online - some reading group questions and reviews can be found here:
As a whole, we weren't too fond of the book - we all found it a bit of a drudge to read - it was reminiscent of Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson but less compelling.

Have you read this book? Do you disagree with our comments about it being a difficult read? Let us know what you think!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Book Group - To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

On the announcement earlier this year that Harper Lee had written a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird - Go Set A Watchman - a number of us were super excited to read the book and immediately selected it for reading. To be honest, after the furore around the publishing, a number of the group have since recanted their wish to read the book, but before that happened, we all agreed a re-read of To Kill A Mocking Bird was required! All but one of us had read the book when we were kids and so reading it again as adults was a really good experience. To Kill A Mockingbird is pretty inexpensive in the Kindle stores so a number of us purchased it there, as well as borrowing from the library and a good old charity shop bargain.

Similar to The Handmaid's Tale, there is a plethora of discussion guides. Here are a few that might work for you:
As well as this we had a good old chat about:
  • How it felt reading the book as an adult rather than a child? (We all agreed everyone should read it as a grown up too)
  • Our love of Atticus Finch
  • Our hopes and fear about the sequel of the book
Have you been inspired by the recent publication of Go Set A Watchman to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird? Hope this guide is useful for you and would love to hear what you think about either book.

Go Set A Watchman is our next book (supposedly!)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Book Group - How to Be Both by Ali Smith

This is the first "new" book we've covered in a while. We were following the winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction to pick a book and the recommendation of a number of people who just raved and raved about it. We made the decision to bulk purchase four copies through Amazon and then share them out as people finished the books.

The book is a book of two halves - but the halves aren't always the same - but the downside of our bulk purchase meant that all four copies had the same first half, something worth noting if you're planning on using for your own group.

As a new book, there aren't too many discussion guides out there, but as a Man Booker Nominee there is a discussion guide on their site.

Here are some resources which might be useful:

We had a good chat about the book - we all enjoyed the second half rather than the first (the older half) - but also agreed that actually reading the book more than once - reading different halves first - might be a good idea. However, I've not done done that yet!

Have you read the book? What did you think? Is it something that's good for a book group? We would love to hear your opinions.