I’m a member of a book group. Nothing unusual in that, I suppose. Our book group formed in early 2004. The group was formed by several parents of children in the same class at Kilbirnie School, plus friends, and though people have come and gone over the years, three of the founding members are still involved.
We’re much like any other book group in many respects. We meet each month in the lovely house of one of our members – with occasional forays to other members’ places – have a glass of wine or a cuppa, a piece of cake, and discuss that month’s book, plus what else we’ve been doing, reading and watching. Books we all like, or books we all hate, don’t provoke as much discussion as books we have mixed feelings, or a variety of opinions, about.
There’s some things about our group that are a little different, though. For one, we’ve always had a roughly equal balance of women and men: at the moment, when all of us are in the room, there are four men and three women. For another, we read widely, in both genre and time. We’ve been back to the 19th century with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and further back to the roots of the novel with Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote; then all the way forward to Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. We’ve had excursions to Russia, Poland, and recently the Dominican Republic with Junot Diaz and his Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Although we mainly read novels, we’ve also read short stories by Jorge Luis Borges and Dorothy Parker, and a little biography and poetry.
And I know all this because one of our members, Richard, has kept a list of what we’ve read since 2004 (and what we’ve watched as well: there are many copies, and we have a plan). We’ve read many fine books, but of all of them, I think the best has been Plumb by Maurice Gee. I think it might be that legendary beast, the great New Zealand novel.