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March 5, 2013 / magickittenblogs

The Joy of Bookgroup

I, being a proud book-geek, attend a monthly book group.  It’s called Bookplate, it runs at the University of Essex, in association with the university’s Literature Society and the university branch of Waterstones, and we normally meet on the first Tuesday of each month.  It’s organised by Terri-Jane, LitSoc president, and Rob Chilver, bookseller, and between them they’ve come up with a brilliant selection of novels.  We’ve read prize-winners and nominees as well as a wide range of fairly new fiction in a real variety of genres.

I really love this opportunity to go along and discuss a book with different people.  I often have strong personal opinions about a book, so it’s great to get different perspectives, especially from what is normally quite a wide demographic, age and experience-wise.  I graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Lit way back in 2004 so really now I’m a reader for pleasure most of the time.  I find it really refreshing discussing novels with people still in the midst of detailed analysis on a day-to-day basis, as well as with people of totally different generations and very different cultural frames of reference.

One of my favourite book group reads has been The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – this is a book which has had a real buzz around it and I’m so glad we read it.  It was particularly interesting, as I absolutely loved it but some people had very different reactions, particularly in terms of sympathising with the main characters.  Also, tonight we’re discussing The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  This is a university-based murder mystery, which is reminiscent in some ways of The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides which we read last year, in that it features possibly over-privileged but certainly over-dramatic American students at a liberal arts college.  Seeing people putting up their star ratings on GoodReads makes me think a lot of people have really enjoyed this book, although The Marriage Plot really split the group.  Some felt that the setting and references were very elitist, not just for the characters but for readers as well.  I’m looking forward to seeing what reaction there is later…

Are you a member of a book group?  Why did you join? What’s been your favourite group book? I would love to hear your thoughts…


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