National Year of Reading- September- Grow

opening flower It’s almost September- time to chat about the National Year of Reading theme for the month, Grow. 

The love2read blog talks about the many options within this theme! Personal growth, self -help,  health & well being, pregnancy, parenting, growth industries, career changes, weight loss (if you’ve been baking cakes and ‘growing’) the environment, sustainablilty and gardening.

Here at Nowra Library our 3rd Wednesday Book Club is reading texts from the current HSC syllabus. We figure kids grow, and we’d like to see what they’re studying for the HSC later this year. Texts under study include English classics like Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre and modern classics like  Catch-22, Dune and Brave New World. Poets Emily Dickinson, Silvia Plath and John Keats, as well the Shakespeare, are all present, as are Australian authors Peter Carey and Tim Winton.

We’re looking forward to seeing how our book club members like walking in the shoes of our HSC students this month : )

Happy reading (and growing!) everyone!

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Exciting news for Wolf Hall fans!

Cover image Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Well, this is exciting news! Fans of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are everywhere performing back flips of glee right about now, as the good news breaks: the BBC will be producing a 6 part drama adaptation of the novels.

Thomas Cromwell

Mantel’s novels tell the story of Henry VIII’s secretary Thomas Cromwell and  his rise to power. The King’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and her fall from grace are seen through the eyes of the fictionalised secretary, lending a fresh perspective to a fascinating period of England’s history. Wildly successful, the books were both nominated for the Man Booker Prize, which Wolf Hall won in 2009; Bring Up the Bodies is currently part of the prize’s 2012 longlist.

The novels will be adapted into screenplays by Peter Straughan, who wrote the recent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy movie.

The mini-series is set to air in late 2013 and the cast has yet to be announced. Kenneth Williams, Donald Pleasence, Iain Mitchell and James Frain have all played Cromwell. Who do you think would suit the role?

James Frain played Thomas Cromwell in Showtime’s The Tudors. (And what do you know? The only pic we could find of him also happens to feature the hideously ugly Henry Cavill. What are the odds, huh?)

The 2012 Man Booker Prize Longlist

The Man Booker Prize Longlist was announced on July 25th. The prize, which Cover image 'Bring up the Bodies' celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008, aims to promote the ‘finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The prize is the world’s most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers.’ (www.themanbookerprize.com)

To be nominated, works must be written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Judges are selected from a wide variety of disciplines, including critics, writers, academics, poets, politicians and actors.

‘The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and, like all the shortlisted authors, a cheque for £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book. Fulfilling one of the objectives of the prize – to encourage the widest possible readership for the best in literary fiction – the winner and the shortlisted authors now enjoy a dramatic increase in book sales worldwide. (information sourced from www.themanbookerprize.com)

Last year’s winner was Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. Past winning novels include Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel and True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.

The 2012 longlist:

Nicola Barker, The Yips (Fourth Estate)
Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident (Sceptre)
André Brink, Philida (Harvill Secker)
Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books)
Michael Frayn, Skios (Faber & Faber)
Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Doubleday)
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories)
Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)
Alison Moore, The Lighthouse (Salt)
Will Self, Umbrella (Bloomsbury)
Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis (Faber & Faber)
Sam Thompson, Communion Town (Fourth Estate)

 The shortlist will be announced 11 th September 2012.

3rd Wednesday Book Club- July- Discover

The National Year of Reading theme for July was Discover, and our book club members did some fantastic literary discovering of their own in celebration. From the history of London’s underground  to the Mayan calendar to what really happened with the second gunman on the grassy knoll, we read a wide range of ‘discovery’ books as well as many that  had absolutely nothing at all to do with the theme! As always, it’s an eclectic mix, and we love it!

July reads:

Stop What You’re Doing and Read This  – a celebration of reading by various authors, including Zadie Smith, Tim parks, Michael Rosen and Jeanette Winterson
Five Bells by Gail Jones
The River Wife by Heather Rose
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
Kingdom of Strangers by Zoe Ferraris
Handwriting by Michael Ondaatje
London Under by Peter Ackroyd
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
The 2012 Story by John Major Jenkins
11.22.63 by Stephen King
Oswald’s Tale by Norman Mailer
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankel
The Remnants by John Hughes
Verdi and/or Wagner by Peter Conrad
Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse
Never Apologise, Never Explain by James Craig
Season of Content by Jackie French
Carnival of the Dead by David Hewson
March by Geraldine Brookes
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Most talked about reads:

The 2012 Story by John Major Jenkins – ‘This is a comprehensive and detailed look at the Mayan culture, history and calendar that has spawned  the ‘End of the World’ scenario on 21 December 2012. It’s very scientific and no stone is left unturned. It’s not an ‘easy’ read, but nonetheless informative, eye opening and myth dispensing. Jump to Chapter 9 and read to the end. The true ‘prophecy’ will blow you away!’ (Elaine)

Cover image london Under London Under by Peter Ackroyd
‘This is a book about what can be discovered about old London by exploring the ground under present London.

Under London can be found places of worship and healing waters. The Bank of England underground vaults store the second biggest hoard of gold bullion on earth. In  the 18tyh century there was an underground prison- it was in use for 250 years and closed in 1877. There are underground rivers, like the Fleet River under Fleet Street.

Serious archaeological activity didn’t take place in London till after WWII, but when it did a complete Roman bathhouse was found under Lower Thames Street.
The 13 rivers and brooks of London still flow; but whereas they once went through fields and valleys, they are now contained by pipes and sewers.

The London Metropolitan Underground Railway was opened in January 1863; it was the first underground railway in the world. The trains were pulled by compact steam engines. There were complaints about the smoke and the smell. The first trains powered by electricity were introduced in 1890. It is interesting ti note that the incentive to build underground was driven by the congestion of cart and traffic in the streets.

Knowing what is underfoot is a discovery most of us will never make; but this book is really interesting reading- almost gripping at times! (Janet)

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka  – quirky, funny, surprising, this book has been read and loved by several book club members.

Author love-in

Tim Winton
Born in Perth in 1960, Tim Winton is the author of thirteen books, including novels, short stories, non-fiction and books for children. He began publishing fiction in his teens and his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the 1981 Australian/Vogel Prize. He has twice won the Miles Franklin Award, for Shallows in 1984 and for Cloudstreet in 1991, and his other awards include the Banjo Prize, the WA Premier’s Prize, the DEO Gloria Award (UK), the Marten Bequest and the Wilderness Society Environment Award. In 1995 The Riders was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Dirt Music – shortlisted for the Booker Prize, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary award and more – confirms Tim’s status as one of the finest novelists of his generation.

His collection of short stories called The Turning won the 2005 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and the 2005 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards.

Tim Winton has lived in Greece, France and Ireland. He lives in Western Australia with his wife and three children. (Author bio from http://www.panmacmillan.com.au)

Marina Lewycka
Marina Lewycka was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1946 and moved to England with her family when she was about a year old. She spent most of her life since then trying to become a writer, and finally succeeded in 2005 with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian which has sold more than a million copies in the UK alone. This was followed by Two Caravans in March 2007, We Are All Made of Glue in July 2009 and Various Pets Alive and Dead in March 2012.


There was  also some discussion this month about the International Thriller Writers Society. Here’s some information about the society, and a link to their website:

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as “thrillers.” This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and myriad similar subject areas.

ITW’s mission is “To bestow recognition and promote the thriller genre at an innovative and superior level for and through our Active members; to provide opportunities for mentoring, education and collegiality among thriller authors and industry professionals; and to grant awards for excellence in the thriller genre.” ITW By-laws: Article II, Purposes, Section 2.

One of the main purposes of the organization is to provide a way for successful, bestselling authors to help debut and midlist authors advance their careers. To that end, ITW has designed numerous, effective programs and events which promote debut and midlist writers and their work, sometimes in partnership with bestselling authors. In addition, ITW promotes literacy, gives money to worthy organizations, supports libraries, and advances the genre. Finally, it brings together almost a thousand writers, readers, publishers,  editors and agents at its annual conference, ThrillerFest, as well as at CraftFest, a writing workshop program, and AgentFest, where aspiring authors can meet and pitch top literary agents. (http://thrillerwriters.org/aboutitw/)

Remembering Maeve Binchy

I grew up with Maeve Binchy’s books. My Mum first handed me a battered copy of Circle of Friends when I was in my teens and in a way it was the perfect novel for me at that time in my life. Two best friends grow up together, leave their small village together, meet the world together. The novel was about friendship and unrequited love, first kisses, first dances, fashion issues and nuns- you know, the usual coming of age stuff. I have that old copy still, along with others- Firefly Summer and Light a Penny Candle, which, together with Circle of Friends, make my personal Maeve Binchy trifecta. I don’t read them so often nowadays, but I know they’re there on my bookshelf, patiently exuding their warm, comforting presence until I choose to re-read them once again.

There is an innocence, a safeness in, Maeve’s novels. Quaint villages, quirky characters, often set in times past when life was so much simpler and technology was still a thing of the future. I remember being really shocked and affronted when I read one of Maeve’s newer novels, Scarlet Feather, and saw that the characters were using mobile phones. Mobile phones? I ranted (silently) mobile phones in a Maeve Binchy novel? What is the world coming to?

Binchy’s novels often focus on the inhabitants of a small town or village, or a small group of acquaintances in a larger town who are connected to each other in some way, like Quentin’s, which is about a restaurant, and Evening Class which is -yep, you guessed it- about members of an evening class. They involve convoluted, character based plotlines in which characters meet and unwittingly affect each others’ lives, often through chance or coincidence. Friendship, fate, happiness, loneliness, love, family, healing, home- they are all covered.

Binchy’s works often end tidily, which is, I believe, one of their nicest qualities. When you pick up a Maeve Binchy novel, it is with the inherent understanding that no matter how bad things might get, no matter how sad or unlucky or down and out the characters might become, everything will work out in the end. You know that the knot in the plot will be neatly undone, that all the strings will be attached and that all the loose ends will be tied neatly in a (lilac -coloured) bow. And that’s OK; that’s why we read Maeve Binchy, after all- it’s not for the thrill of the thing, but for the comfort, the safety. Reading a Maeve Binchy book is like drinking a cup of tea with an old friend, or eating one of your nan’s homemade biscuits from the same battered biscuit tin she had when you were little, or wandering the cobbles in a tiny Irish town with a rain washed sun warm on your face.

Now that Maeve has gone it’s like a little piece of innocence, of goodness, of lilac-coloured comfort, has left the world.

Thank goodness we still have her books!

Síochán leat, Maeve Binchy, and thankyou

Kelly