Blogosphere Book Circle: February

I’m glad I spotted Penny’s invitation to join this online book circle. I love reading books and being thoroughly absorbed into them. As life goes by, it’s all too easy to find yourself reading nothing more than the junk mail that arrives in the letterbox. Some of that is great to read too…. how else do you find out where you need to purchase that next “must-have” from? Last year, reading was by and large text books, or study notes. And while they were “must-reads”, it’s not the same thing as reading for the pure enjoyment of reading.

So I was late on board the reading circle and only just found my copy of the book of the month, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societyby Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Juliet Ashton lives in London after World War II and is trying to find a subject for her next book when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, who lives on Guernsey, one of the Channel islands between England and France. Dawsey has purchased a secondhand book by Charles Lamb that had Juliet’s name and address in the cover. He is writing her to see if she can recommend other books by Lamb.

Dawsey’s letters make Juliet interested in life on Guernsey, which was occupied by Germans during the war. She begins exchanging letters with other members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a hodge-podge group of readers who formed their society as an alibi to keep from getting arrested by the Nazis.

Through the letters, readers come to know and love Juliet and a variety of friends and foes on Guernsey.

What did I like / dislike about the book?

I loved the humour that came through clearly in the character of Juliet. The way the letters allowed the story to unfold in front of the reader made the story more cosy for me. I was able to easily be transported into the story and feel involved in the plot. I was impressed with how the story was upbeat, yet was dealing with subject matter much darker in terms of it drawing upon recollections of Nazi occupation and life on the island during the war. While not drawn to tears at what I was reading, it certainly was able to make clear the horrors people faced at this time. (Think starvation and deprivation, forced seperation from loved ones, uncertainty of life or death….) I think that it was the device of using letters as ways of reporting what was told rather than the more confronting first person style of writing that made the book much more accessible, up beat and very humourous.

If you haven’t already read this book, I could highly recommend it.

Book club bargains

This month it is my turn to host the book club I belong to. Apart from getting together for a wine and a chat, I’m going to enjoy my turn as host because I’m hoping to fill my cupcake stand! Awesome!😆

This book club differs from another that I was part of while I was living in Europe. There, we all read the same book and came back the next month to discuss. I found this an interesting forum and really enjoyed these monthly outings.

Here, we contribute a small sum of money each month and the hostess chooses books using the total sum for the month and puts those books into essentially a private library. On the night we get together, the new books are introduced and then we browse through the selection that has built up, take the book /s that take our fancy and look forward to a good read. There are no due dates to return the book, we discuss the books to say how we found them and then we settle back for a good chat. With a glass of wine and maybe a bit of home baking. Good fun!

After about a year, you can imagine the collection is fairly huge. So the books that aren’t being taken home, or have been in the collection for a bit, are given to the original purchaser to keep. So it’s important to choose books that you think you would like in your collection at the end of the day. There is no pressure to buy the latest and greatest of whatever – using the monthly sum to buy lots of second hand books is equally valid as purchasing one great book to add. As you can see, I’ve quite enjoyed my last nine months or so of being part of the group. I’ve read a wide variety of books that I wouldn’t have otherwise come across – or heard about.

So today I hit the Dymock’s outlet shop at Queensgate. It’s a temporary shop selling discounted books for as long as there are no other retailers wanting the space. And I’m hoping they’ll be there for a while: there are some really interesting books I would love to get my hands on! I got about 8 books in total for around $70. Not bad!

I chose one I think the Mr’s will love: all about mechanic inventions over the times. I think big boys will also enjoy it and I think it will be taken out for hubby’s as well as kids. There was one on 100 years of plunket, another on headline NZ stories over the last century or so. These both interested me from the historical factor – I love reading about these facts and tid-bits of info. I got a pure fluff book: a novel based on the Bones TV series. No, it wasn’t written by Kathy Reichs who did the novels the TV series was based on – another writer has used the series as a jump point. I thought it was an interesting looking book – I love the Bones series:)

But the two that I am really looking forward to reading are “Ana’s Story” by Jenna Bush and “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hilary Rodham Clinton” by Charles Bernstein.

The first I was curious about after seeing an interview with Jenna Bush after the book was published. Basically, she didn’t come across as the ditz I had taken her for. The book is apparently well written and really brings you as the reader into a world that we don’t often enjoy getting insights to. The second was also one that I was keen to read after seeing reviews. At one point I felt strongly that Hilary was a leader of our time and was keen to see the US finally led by a woman. Over time, that view I held has dipped and waned a bit – but she as a person still fascinates me. I’m not sure if this book is pro- or agin- Hilary per se, but I look forward to seeing the perspective of the writer that brought us Watergate has on her.

And it’s fair to say that among my texts, you’ll probably find my newly acquired Bones book😉