Archive for August, 2009

A Literary Love

the-prime-of-miss-jean-brodie-muriel-spark-posterEvery now and again I develop an full-on literary crush, where I happen upon an book and love it so much that I get an all consuming need to read everything by that author I can possibly get my hands on. It’s been a while but this week I fell head over heels in love with Muriel Spark. As with all great love affairs, there’s a story to it…

After a slightly depressing weekend, on the spur of the moment I decided to visit Edinburgh for a day and lose myself in the delights of the festival; strangely I’ve been reading about it for weeks but it took until Monday to realise that its only up the road and therefore well within reachable distance. I spent a lovely, largely silent day wandering around in the rain, mainly spending my time in art exhibitions as I wasn’t really in the mood for either crowds or the enforced hilarity of stand-up comics. My word addiction kicked in toward the end of the day though, and I decided to go into the first theatre I saw and just see something . That happened to be an adaptation of Spark’s The Girls of Slender Means and though the play was pretty ropey, it was enough to give me a hint that the story behind it might be worth checking out. It was; I couldn’t go to sleep that night until I’d finished it and have had a completely one track mind since. Spare, sharp prose that can say so much in so few words- amazing. My new love.

Luckily I’d finished my re-reading of The Boy with the TopKnot on the train on the way there and have laughed and cried at it all over again. It’s such a deceptively breezy, easy read yet it manages to deal with the incredibly complexity of mental illness, families, responsibility and culture in such a searingly honest way. Or at least I think it does- it does make me wonder how real it all is and I wonder whether anyone else finds the schism between subject and tone a problem rather than a strength. Can Sanghera can always have been that chipper about it all? It’ll be interesting to have a chat about that and the millions of other issues the book raises at the next meeting!

Don’t forget: THURSDAY September 3rd at 6pm at our new home, Cafe Roco, for BIRTHDAY BOOK GROUP. There will be cake, a birthday book quiz and rich tea biscuits (as requested) for Raymond. And red-hot intellectual discussion, of course.

Summer Love

Group Hug!

Group Hug!

The day after the night before and I’m still filled with feelings of book-club related happiness. I was a bit unsure about how the freestyle summer session would work out- would anyone turn up? Would anyone say anything? Once again though you more than lived up to the challenge and we had not only a great turnout but perhaps my favourite meeting so far. It was fascinating to hear everyone talk about their favourites- and, boy, did we have a diverse selection- and I think we all got to know each other a little bit better… hearing about a favourite book is a bit like reading a page of someone’s diary (but not as mean!). It made me determined to introduce a bit more unregimented chatting time into the sessions- we need to keep this conversation flowing. So- genuinely- thanks all for such an amazing meeting!

Back to programme next month though and I hope by now that you should all have received emails from Liv telling you all the forthcoming books (also to the right). We’re going to have a go at a memoir in September- The Boy with the Topnot by Sathnam Sanghera- one of the funniest and most moving books I’ve read in a long time and easily a favourite of last year. I’m nailing my colours firmly to the mast with this one: I love it and will be really interested to see whether you agree…

It’s not only new books, new genres either. We have a fantastic new venue as of next month and a new day. So it’s Café Roco (very swish, great cakes and opposite the winter gardens) on the first THURSDAY of every month as of September. This is-hopefully- the end to the ongoing game of musical venues we seem to have been playing since last year. And (as if that wasn’t enough!) it is officially our FIRST BIRTHDAY, so expect cakes, games and prizes. Phew- I’m looking forward to it already. xx

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

August 2009
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