Monday, September 22, 2008

Books! Books! Books!

Today was the annual meeting of the Faculty Women's Club Book Circulation group of which I am a longtime member. I written about this several times before and it is such a brilliant idea I don't understand why there are not more groups like it but it is the only one I know. From this post last year:

It's run by two convenors who, in the month or so before the meeting, choose and buy 2 copies of 17 books. Often Canadian bestsellers, often not. Some fiction, some not. We each pay $25 to cover the cost of the books and at the end of the year we have a draw and get to keep one. We get a list of the 17 people in our subgroup and the dates to exchange each book and every three weeks or so we pass the book on. Each time you pick up your book from the same person and another person picks up from you and it is arranged so that we live close to each other. So you get to read 17 books for the price of one and get to keep a book as well.

Today we returned the last book we read for this past year, for me this was What the Psychic told the Pilgrim by Jane Christmas. This book opened with the very intriguing sentence: Impulse is intuition on crack.

What followed was the story of her journey, in celebration of her 50th birthday, following the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a centuries-old pilgrimage route stretching 800 kilometers (500 miles) from southwestern France across the Pyrenees almost to the northwestern shore of Spain.

While by no means the best book I have ever read I found it a highly entertaining and informative read, especially since I have never been to Spain. Now why is that I wonder? But all those little interesting facts she included made her a woman after my own heart. Did I tell you she was travelling with a group of other women? However this did not go well and she completed the journey without them.

The exciting part of the meeting is the lottery draw for the book each member gets to keep. Names are drawn from a container and it depends on how early your name is drawn how likely you are to get your first choice or even your second or third choice. Today my name came up very early so I was able to get my first choice, a book I did not read during the year since I was out of town when it was my turn to read it.

I am definitely looking forward to reading Infidel, the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born former member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with director Theo van Gogh, who was himself assassinated. A very controversial lady so it should be an interesting read.

Last of all the books for this post is the one I received as the first book of this year's choices, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, by Kate Summerscale. In it the author recreates the story of the 1860 murder of three year old Saville Kent in the English countryside and the subsequent investigation by Scotland Yard detective Jonathan Whicher. It was an investigation which lead to his undoing as a detective but he became the model for Sgt Cuff in Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, considered the first mystery novel. I don't know how easy this will be to read given the age of the victim but the reviews of this fictionalized true crime story all seem to be five stars.

So three books for one post today. We shall see, we shall see and I'll let you know what I think later.


Crushed said...

Infidel looks interesting.

I guess she would be in a prime position to give balanced and objective views on subjects which everybody seems to have an opinion, but so often those opinions aren't thought through and are often purely reflexive...

I agree, impulse on crack makes the mind boggle...

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I learnt a lot from this post. Thank you.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I nearly bought the Summerscale book yesterday, whilst shopping for a birthday gift for Mrs Weasel. The author wrote an excellent biography called "The Queen of Whale Cay", about a wealthy eccentric lesbian. I wasn't sure Mrs W was that keen on the detective genre though. We should all do more book reviews.

jams o donnell said...

What an excellent idea. I will have to get a copy of Hirsi's book.

Janice Thomson said...

Look forward to your reviews on Infidel.
It is a wonderful idea JMB but probably difficult to find people willing to buy the books, keep track of them and make up the lists. It's neat you're a member of such a unique book club.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I hadn't realised it works like that - an excellent idea. I'd lkike to read "The Infidel", too.

Carver said...

Those all sound like interesting books. Book clubs are a great way to get introduced to books. Even if you don't belong to one. One of my sisters has been in several book clubs and she has passed on many 100s of books to me through the years. I really get the good end of the stick since I don't buy any of them although I have tried to get her to let me reimburse her for postage.

James Higham said...

Do you need a male member there, JMB? Could I become an honorary woman for the day?

sally in norfolk said...

I am still finding it hard to read books.. cannot concentrate long enough maybe because of all the blog reading i do.
while geoff is away walkng my aim is to try and read a book :-)

CherryPie said...

That sounds like a fun book group!

I managed to miss going to mine again because I was away!

Sienna said...

Thanks for the run down, Infidel is one I would like to read, I will track it down.

Shall head over to the poetry blog of the lady now deceased, thanks for that too, JMB.

Appreciate it.


sally in norfolk said...

what a funny coincidence you reviewing... What the Psychic told the Pilgrim :-)

Dr.John said...

I think the club is a great idea.

leslie said...

All three of those books sound intriguing - I'll put them on my own personal list.

Nunyaa said...

Curious about the Infidel and also The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, you make them both sound worth reading.

jmb said...

Everyone said Infidel was a good book Crushed and I was lucky to get it.

You're welcome LGS.

Well Wrinkled weasel, I have started the book but it is slow going so far. Get it from the library.

Jam's I am sure you would enjoy Infidel.

Janice I know this idea takes organizing but it would be good for a book club to do.

It is a brilliant idea Welshcakes and I am looking forward to the Infidel.

Lucky you Carver although for most of my book clubs I use the library.

You don't have to become a woman James, we do have some males in the club, just not this group and it is full.

I hope you succeed with a book Sally.

Book groups are fun although this one is unique in that there is no discussion.

I think you will enjoy Infidel Pam and I think you will enjoy the poetry too.

A coincidence indeed Sally. I hope you like it.

It is indeed Dr John.

I'm always looking for book suggestions too Leslie.

I hope they are Nunyaa.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.