e17 book clubs – more needed?

ImageYou might have noticed that I post quite a lot of book reviews.  I also post whether I have read the book as it was chosen as part of our E17 Book Club.  I think that this has provoked quite a lot of publicity for our book club as I have received many requests over the last year or so by people who would like to join.

We are obviously a rather literary lot in Walthamstow!

Turnover of members of our book club is rather low indeed – we ‘allowed’ a couple of newbies in when one member left in September, but the number of people asking to join and being turned away is growing weekly.

There are other Book Clubs that I know of in Walthamstow, one that meets at The Mill, the Reading Group that meets at Walthamstow Library and Forest Book Group who meet in Peking Chef.

I am sure that there are probably others, and if you know of them please do let me know.

However, my point for this post was to suggest that maybe someone sets up another Book Club (or two!) in Walthamstow – there are obviously enough people interested to fill them (we have found that about 10 people at any one meeting is kind of the upper limit…and about 14 on the list tends to get 8-10 each meeting).

I have quite a large number of people ‘in my archives’, so, if anyone wanted to set something up, I would be happy to get back in touch with peopel that had contacted me in the past and asked to be put on our waiting list to see if they would like to join.

So, come on, is someone going to stand up to the mark and say “YES! *I* will start organising a new book club in Walthamstow!”.

(PS – we now have no idea who ‘runs’ our book club…once you get a few meetings out the way, the members kind of look after it as one.)

***UPDATE*** Someone has kindly taken on the mantle of setting up a new book club, which will meet once a month at The Chequers.  Let me know if you would like more details.

Also, as per Jenny’s comment below, there is a book club set up that meets in The Castle once a month!

We really, really are a well-read bunch in E17!

i want to do nothing

I guess it's not quite this bad for The Man...yet 😉

I seem to have been having quite a busy time recently, and I’m not quite sure how that happened.

On Friday, as The Man was going back to Middlesbrough for the weekend, I had to arrange to get The Girl over to Chigwell Row for her night-time ‘Woodland Walk’ with the Guides.  Yes, in this weather, someone thought it would be a good idea to get about 40 small girls together and tell scary stories and scream and giggle for a couple of hours.

Luckily the guide camp is about 10 minutes walk from my parents…(quick aside story:  when *I* was in Brownies, I remember getting totally and utterly over-excited because we were going on a camping trip when I was about 9 or 10.  I remember trying to pack my sleeping bag, mat etc and then the complete disappointment I felt when I realised that it was this same Camp Site.  The one I used to walk past near enough every day!)

So, me and The Girl spent the night at my parents.  I hadn’t seen much of them for ages, and haven’t slept there for a very long time.  however, sharing a bed with The Girl, although warm was not great with my insomnia.  she tends to twitch,  you can’t see it, but when you’re in bed with her, you can feel it.  it was really creepy. Strange creature that she is.

So, Saturday we spent some more time with my parents, and then came home and had a bit of a housework blitz (with no boy to ruin it), ordered pizza (to annoy The Man as it’s his fave, and he was hating being in Boro and just wanted to be home).  i felt exhausted and had called off my mate coming down (sorry Jo) and then had to turn down my other mate who rang me to see if he could come round.  it was only about 6.30pm but I was already in my PJs under the duvet watching crap TV!

On Sunday, me & The Girl got on the bus and went off to watch Megamind 3D – which was actually really good.  I can’t decide which I prefer out of that and Despicable Me!  When we got back, The Man had got home (with snow still on the roof of the car from Boro!) and we were really happy to have him back 🙂

Monday night, was the E17 Book Club at The Nags Head, where we talked about The Corrections – really nice as we drank mulled wine in front of the roaring open fire.

Last night was the Walthamstow Library Reading Group, and we actually went to the pub and bought a coupel of bottles of wine as our ‘pre-Xmas drinks’ and discussed Fasting, Feasting.

Tonight i’m out to see a show with my friend, and then I get a night off (hopefully for good behaviour) and then friday night I’m off to Brixton Academy to see Leftfield.

I feel worn out already!

fasting, feasting – anita desai

Fasting, Feasting

I read this as part of my Reading Group with Walthamstow Library.  It was very definitely a book of two halves – or more like a book of two-thirds and then one third, LOL.

The first part of the story centres around Uma, a (now) middle-aged spinster, living in India with ‘MamaPapa’, her parents who never leave each other’s side, thus seemingly one entity.  Uma is the oldest of three children.  Her thick glasses, plain looks, below-average intelligence and lack of knowledge of how to attract the opp0site sex has meant that she has lived almost her whole life in the family home.

The second part of the story follows her little brother Arun, who has gone to study in America.

To be honest, I wish that the story had never split.  I was loving Uma’s story.  The writing was so colourful, so well-crafted, the scenes drawn so vividly that it kind of disguised a lot of how totally depressing Uma’s life was.

In contrast, we are suddenly thrown into Arun’s life where he is staying with an american family during the summer break.  he is quiet and not exactly likeable.  the family are dysfunctional and he doesn’t really enjoy being there.  everything is based around food – the father who BBQs everything, the mother who decides to be a vegetarian with Arun, the health freak son and the bulimic daughter.  It was all very odd.

I couldn’t care less what happened to Arun, there was hardly any reference to his family back in India and there was absolutely no resolution to Uma’s story which had been far more enjoyable and which I had really bought into!

I would really recommend reading the first part of this book, but would suggest people didn’t bother with the second!

Why it was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize is beyond me.

talking in the library 2

The Famished Road

On Tuesday, I went back tot he Reading Group at Walthamstow Library.  I felt a bit bad as I hadn’t managed to finish the book – The Famished Road by Ben Okri.

I don’t often give up on books, but I had got through 40% of it and i’d been pushing myself to read it for about half of that.

I wasn’t the only one to not finish reading it – in fact only one person had read it all the way through and she’d rerally enjoyed it.  I think I was the only one who was so negative about it.  There was too much about the book thast I just didn’t ‘get’.

It won the Booker prize in 1991, and definitely comes in the category of most ‘prize-winning’ books I’ve read, which is that they feel all a bit too ‘worthy’.  A bit like any film that Steven Spielberg has made in the past 12 years – it feels all style over substance and only made with winning in mind.

It is set in Nigeria and based around Azaro who is a ‘spirit-child’.  He was a spirit before he was born, and during the story, I think he was about 7-9, and he sees beings from the spirit world in this world.  He lives in a shack in a compound with his parents.  His mother goes to the market to peddle her wares from a basket she carries on her head, and his father breaks his back long hours every day working in the city as a loader.

There are many political rumblings, with the Party for the Rich and the Party for the Poor both being as corrupt as each other and trying to bribe the people of the compound.

There is also a LOT of violence, drunkenness and poverty, as you would expect in the setting.

But what lost the power of the story for m was the fact that I could never tell when his experiences were real, or when they were in the spirit world.  There were customers at Madam Koto’s bar where he spent a lot fo time, who were all spirits, but then they kidnapped him, and he was bundled in a sack and dumped int he river, and he really did have to walk home with his feet getting all cut as he had no shoes, thus getting a beating from his father.  If the spirits weren’t of this world, then how did they bundle him in the sack?   That wasn’t the only time that I got confused as to who could see what etc etc – Madam Koto seemed to have an agenda of her own, and often hinted that she knew of the spirits, but (apparently) this is never really explored within the book.

I found it very frustrating.  Nothing much happened either, and I finally realised that I hadn’t bought in to the characters at all when his mother was very ill and on the verge of death, and I couldn’t care less what happened to her.  That was really when I decided I should give up and just put the book away.

I wouldn’t recommend this book at all – but I did find it interesting how all of us found it so different.

talking in the library

This just amused me when I was looking for a pic 😉

Seems wrong, doesn’t it –  having a discussion in a library?  But that is what I did last night.

OK, all is not quite as it seems – I decided to go and see whether the Reading Group at Walthamstow Central Library was something I might find interesting.

They meet at 7pm on the last Tuesday of every month, and it appears I went on a night when they had the least number of people turning up ever (probably the summer holidays – everywhere seems to be a bit sparse at the moment).

It’s quite good as they provide the library with the name of the next book they want to read, and the library provide enough copies for everyone, and then they hand it back at the next meeting, and pick up the next lot.

They had just finished reading The Time Traveller’s Wife, which I had read and enjoyed – but when it first came out, so I could barely remember any details at all.  It was really interesting to be able to discuss everyone’s different takes on the book – and especially one person who didn’t like it at all and hadn’t finished reading it – but then she had already decided how it was going to end…and it doesn’t.  After listening to the rest of us discussing, she realised that she might find it interesting after all, LOL.

So, I came home with my copy of Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, which I have to be honest, I had never heard of, but am looking forward to reading.

Just thinking about going again in a few weeks though has made me realise that I am going to tackle the book differently.  Knowing that I am going to be discussing it makes me think I should take notes etc – which seems a bit ‘bookish’ to me, and something I haven’t done since school – which was a LONG time ago!

There’s a Walthamstow Book Club that I am also interested in going along to – but I don’t know when they are next meeting.  Is two book clubs just greedy??

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