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!
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)
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.
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 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/)