Archive for September, 2008

Only a week to go!

How quickly can you do it?

How quickly can you do it?

Wow- can you believe that it’s nearly a month since the last meeting? What a month- passed, for me at least, in a crazy whirl of packing boxes (I’m moving house!!) and interviews (and moving jobs!). So, all pretty stressful! But thankfully a small space has been preserved for reading and book group doings: my month has also been punctuated by tons of South Asian fiction in anticipation of the festival coming up at the Sage and significantly brightened by so many book group members popping into WH Smiths for a chat. I know that some of you are having a bit of a problem getting hold of the book in local shops and unfortunately I’ve not been able to help in that area- as its not standard stock, Smiths hasn’t been very forthcoming in helping out and I understand that Waterstones hasn’t had any/ many in either.  All I can suggest for those of you who haven’t got it yet is either the trusty old internet (God bless Amazon- what on earth did we do without it??) or Blackwells in Newcastle for your £2 discount. And maybe in the future we can think about maybe making a bulk order so we can ensure everyone has a copy well in advance. But if you haven’t got your copy yet don’t worry too much- there is certainly still time and even if you’re not finished I’m sure you’ll still have plenty to contribute.
It would be a shame to miss this meeting as I think it may be a bit different from the last- from the conversations I’ve had so far, it seems reaction to Gifted is far more varied than those I heard to Half a Yellow Sun. A couple of people have found it quite difficult to get into and others have found the characters impossible to get on with. I’ve got to admit I find this all a bit strange because, while I agree this is undoubtedly a different proposition to the epic sweep of Half a Yellow Sun, I read Gifted quickly and greedily and found the characters largely to be sympathetic and convincing portraits (even while vehemently disagreeing with some of the things they were doing!). However, maybe its just my perverse streak but I actually think this might make for a more interesting group; a bit of disagreement is sure to get the discussion flowing and it will be interesting to try and pin down why people react so differently. I guess the most important thing is that whatever your opinion, don’t let it put off coming to the group- even if you hate it so much you can’t finish it (and I already know at least one person who feels this way!!). Just have a bit of a think why you think what you do and then come along and be prepared to fight your corner! I’m looking forward to it already! x



You just dont understand….

No problems in this family then...

No problems in this family then...

Well, another week and yet more bookshop madness- is it just me or does Christmas get earlier and earlier every year? I’m just pleased that at least this year I’ve got a book club to keep me sane- I’m finding it so nice, so darn civilized, to have an excuse to wind down and pick up a good book! In amongst all the running around I’ve managed to finish re-reading Gifted, which I read sometime in the dim and distant past when it was first being talked up. Not only has this reminded me how touching and just plain sad I found it the first time round, it’s also given me something to do during the long hours sorting out the children’s book section- revisiting Rumi and her parents’ fraught relationship has meant I’ve spent a lot of time ear-wigging on conversations between parents and adolescents. Though its a while since I was living through that hideously awkward time, Gifted seems to have plunged me right back there, into that intense mixture of love, worry, disappointment, mutual concern and misunderstanding. I have watched teenagers rolling their eyes, sighing, storming off; listened to parent’s tutting and snapping and wondered how any of us possibly survive it! Maybe Philip Larkin was right. And that was without being a maths genius…









I really hope you’ve all managed to get hold of the book- I think some people have found it a bit more difficult to track down- and that you’re all well on your way to finishing it. I’m really interested to see what you all make of it- it’s a very different proposition to Half a Yellow Sun but still raises a lot of issues which I’m looking forward to chatting about. If anyone fancies getting in early and starting the chat via the blog, it would be fabulous to hear from you.


See you all soon and keep reading!

First Meeting Fun…

Definitely NOT the Sunderland Book Group...

Definitely NOT the Sunderland Book Group...

So sorry that it’s taken me a few days to get round to actually writing this but unfortunately Thursday marked the beginning of Christmas (yes, really!) in the world of book retail and I have been submerged in celebrity autobiographies and blockbuster fiction since I saw you all. Thankfully the initial rush seems to be over and I have had a lazy Sunday to think a bit about some proper books and book group business.




I’ve got to say how much I enjoyed Wednesday evening and how fantastic it was to meet and talk about books with people who obviously love them as much as me! AND to prove everyone wrong who sneered or smirked when the idea of a book club in Sunderland was first discussed- we had such a great turn out and everyone seemed really enthused about the whole book group idea. It really reminded me how much you can get from sharing thoughts and ideas with others- many people made comments that really made me think again about some of the issues the book raised and, certainly for me, that adds a whole new dimension to the reading experience. And when you’ve got a group of people of different ages, backgrounds, with different experiences- well, that can surely only add to the mix. It goes without saying that I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did and that you’re all looking forward to the next meeting as much as me! (Also, for those reading who didn’t come along- I hope to see YOU at the next meeting too..)


As I mentioned at the meeting, I hope we will be able to continue the book chat between meetings through this blog- any thoughts, comments, recommendations, moans, questions etc. will be most welcome.  Start the discussion on the next book, continue the discussion on the last- it’s all up to you. Just click on “comments” above the blog you’re responding to and leave your message.


Oh and sorry for the lack of photos. Although I brought the camera along I completely forgot to actually use it! I blame it on Marie and her video camera…


About the group

Sunderland Book Group meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 6pm at Holmeside Coffee in Sunderland.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit

September 2008
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