Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Book club books

As I was going through the choices for future books for my Babington book club tonight, I thought about the process of choosing these books. People have asked me how I do it, and I really haven't been able to give them a satisfactory answer.

I run two book clubs. I started doing my first one at Babington House a few years ago because the person who ran it before me rather selfishly moved to LA (Go figure!?). So, a couple of years ago, I took over the task of organising the monthly meetings.

Then when I started working at the book shop, it was rather natural I should start a book group there too. (Details here)

I guess choosing a book for a club is very much the same as recommending a novel to somebody who walks into England's Lane Books. In short, I have to love it myself first. I also take into account what books the group have read before and try not to repeat the genre or the style. I obviously also take into account what kind of books people like to read.

But I love going off piste sometimes and choose a quite a different kind of book; one which I'm pretty sure none of the members would have even thought of picking up themselves. Sometimes I've read the book myself many years ago, sometimes the book's new to me too. Or I've seen an interesting review, and am so intrigued about the book that I choose it for my book group.

Here's my latest list of book recommendations put together this morning:

James Meek: The People's Act of Love - an intriguing tale set in an isolated community in Siberia. Love, suspicion and terror engulf the small town when Samarin, a tramp, appears from the woods with tales of cannibalism. (This is the England's Lane Book group book for April 26th.)

Lionel Shriver: So Much For That - Shep saves up and dreams all his working life of an escape from the mundane, but when at last it's time to leave home and start afresh, his wife is not ready. I haven't read this book but I can relate to the story already...and I love Lionel Shriver as a writer.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir: Last Rituals - A dark crime novel from Iceland. If you loved the Danish TV series The Killing, you must read this exciting writer.

***Newsflash: Yrsa Sigurdardottir is appearing at England's Lane Books on Wednesday 18th May 2011 ****

Siri Hustvedt: The Summer Without Men - When after 30 years of marriage Boris falls for a young Frenchwoman and asks for a 'break', his wife Mia falls apart. A funny, tragic and beautiful story of women, girls, love and marriage.

A.D. Miller: Snowdrops - A slowly developing thriller set in modern Moscow. Bodies of those unloved or not missed are discovered each spring after the winter snows thaw. In the Moscow slang these corpses are called 'snowdrops'.


Midlife Jobhunter said...

I like Lionel Shriver as well. My book club has gone through many different formats to choose a book. Right now, the hostess chooses. We get a varied group of choices. My last choice? We Need to Talk About Kevin by Shriver. This year? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

The Summer Without Men sounds good. I love book clubs.

Helena Halme said...

We Need to Talk about Kevin is absolutely brilliant. One of the books I keep thinking about.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is selling well in the book shop, but I haven't had time to read it properly yet. I really want to but the pile of books by my bedside table is already getting out of hand.

Enjoy your book club!


Alison Cross said...

I sometimes choose books by their covers. Sad but true :-)

I fancy the sound of all of them to be honest, but Summer Without Men sounds as if it will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers?

Well done on getting author to come to your shop. Maybe it should be that book to guarantee that people will be able to talk knowledgeably about her work? His work? *Icelandic name confusion face*

Ali x