Blog – Belonging to a Book Club by Natasha Lichter

Friday, August 11th, 2017

If you had to choose between being an author or a reader, what would you be?  My guess is a reader. Having tried to write this blog, I know I’d rather be a reader too.   Sure, we all have something to say, we all have a story to tell, but writing and articulating that story in a way that will connect, convey and touch is far from easy.  To some it’s impossible (including yours truly).   So my way of being close to and exposed to writing and books is by being part of a reading group, or a book club, as we call it. 

My book club is made of ten lovely friends.  We meet monthly, and have done so for the past 11 years, always at each other’s houses.   We try to be organised and choose the titles at least four months in advance so that we can order copies from the library. And yes, we don’t spend all of our time talking just about the book.  Most of us are from the same village, so of course we all want to catch up with each other at the start, but then the book gets centre stage. On some occasions food does too, especially when the host has taken time to make it reflect the setting of the book.  We have had amazing Italian, Greek, even Serbian feasts.  

It’s amazing how many different genres we read: how many of these books I probably wouldn’t even consider if it weren’t for the book club; how many have surprised and how many have caused heated discussions.  We’ve also read poetry, watched the movies made from the books we read; we even went to see a Jane Austen play.  At Christmas, we do something different – share poems, read through a play or cry with laughter over our own brand of ‘book club charades’. It’s brilliant how such a seemingly simple thing as the written word brings us all together.  I can’t think of many other ‘clubs’ that would do that. 

When LitFest started eight years ago, it gave another dimension to our book enjoyment.  Here was the opportunity to meet the authors we read, and when Big Town Read was introduced five years ago, we always made sure we read the associated book and went en masse to join other book groups at the event.  My favourite was Jackie Kay.  So inspiring.   I always loved her poetry, and it was very exciting to see her talk about the life that inspired her book Red Dust Road.

So if you are not part of a book club yet, why not pick up this year’s Big Town Read (Laline Paull’s The Bees), come to LitFest on Sunday 1 October and chat to book club members there.  Or find out about your local book club via your local library.  Better still – start your own.  I promise it will give you a chance to escape, enjoy and learn new things.

Natasha Lichter