Friday, 14 January 2011
With only minor changes in personnel eight of us have met in each other's homes regularly once a month to discuss books chosen by the group members in rotation. We miss out August because, as several of us are teachers, we tend to be away then and in September we have a meeting with a difference, getting together for a whole day on the second Sunday and discussing a book in the morning, having a pot-luck lunch, then seeing the film of the book in the afternoon before finally discussing the adaptation over tea and cake. I have to say that only rarely have we had kind things to say about the films and some we have torn apart mercilessly. No one who had anything to do with the film version of Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda would want to come within a hundred miles of us.
One of the best things about the group is the way in which our ability to discuss books has developed over the years. At first we were very tentative, even those of us who worked with literature for a living. Very often we had run out of things to say after half an hour or so. Now we have to call a halt to our discussion or we would go on all night and we all have to be up for work of one sort or another the following morning.
We don't always agree about the books chosen my any means. In fact the evening often goes with more of a swing when we don't. We had a very heated discussion of Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ just before Christmas, deeply divided, interestingly, not about the author's religious stance but about the worth of the book as a piece of literature. Other books, such as A S Byatt's The Children's Book, we all enjoy immensely but for very different reasons. And novels like that provide just as well for long and intense discussion.
I value Bookworms tremendously. I have been introduced to writers I might never otherwise have read and been forced to read others whom I have avoided for years only to find that they weren't so bad after all. After two false starts I finally managed to read Byatt's Possession and think what I would have missed if that hadn't been on the list. Above all though, I value it for the friendships that I have built. If any of the other Bookworms are reading this then thank you. You're the best.