Help start a book group

A friend decided she wanted to start a book group so that she would read a greater variety of books.  As she is dyslexic and sometimes has problems concentrating on reading, I was not sure how this would work out, but said I would support her and come along.  The other friends who said yes are one who reads a lot and one who is dyslexic and has hardly read at all (except for books needed on courses).  Fortunately, another friend has joined and she is also a great reader.

We started with the BBC’s Big Read list of the 100 most popular books (from 2003!).  We went through and marked those we thought possible and eventually decided to start with Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca”.  Amazingly, everyone managed to finish it in the month we had decided on.  I borrowed a copy from the library, having read it before but not remembering much about it.

When we came to discuss it, most people thought it was OK – but I didn’t like it much.  We considered why the “me/I” was so wet and pathetic (!) and the fact that it was well written so we could (mostly) believe in the characters.

The second book chosen was “Catcher in the Rye” – again I have read it, but years ago when doing teacher training as it was supposed to give us an insight into the mind of teenage boys, I think.  It was still on my bookshelf.  It was interesting to see the different copies that we brought along.

Old copy of "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.  Bought about 1973!
Old copy of “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger. Bought about 1973!

We all hated it!  One person said she only managed to finish it by pretending it was a “case study” from psychology.  The person who instigated the group didn’t finish it – but she had read it before.  We decided it was well written because we all found Holden Caulfield a realistically irritating and depressing teenager and we considered why he was so irritating, whether he had any reason to be so (apart from being a teenager) and how he was like and how different from teenagers today.  It was written in 1951…..

Having all been depressed by it, we decided we needed something rather lighter for next time, and opted for “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.  Again, I had read it before and it was on my bookshelf.

My copy of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy",  bought in about 1980.
My copy of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, bought in about 1980.

Again the variety of different copies was interesting to see.  Most of us enjoyed it and were in the range of thinking it from laugh-out-loud funny to mildly amusing.  One person thought it made no sense and gave up after about chapter 6!  We exchanged thoughts on what we found amusing – but all liked Marvin, the paranoid android.

For next time we are going to read “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald and it has been agreed that we read as much as we can in the time, as it is quite long for the slower readers.

So, is a book group a good idea?  I am not sure yet!  It does slightly restrict what I read and can therefore be a little frustrating but on the whole I read enough and fast enough to be able to read other things as well.

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