Sunday 20 February 2011

Sunday Salon: Reading roundup

This week it was wet, cold, grey and uninspiring outside: perfect weather for snuggling up with a book under a blanket! Luckily, we had our February book club meeting on Wednesday - typically a highlight of my month. Our book club got started when a few of us met at Survival Chinese at the Community Services Center. We'd all pretty much just arrived and were figuring out life in Taiwan. It's a nervous time when you relocate to a new community, whether it be 100 miles or 10,000 miles from your home. The same questions circle in your head: will I find friends? Will I like it? What will I do when I get there? It doesn't matter how many times you've done it before. Happily, we were all new and so were in the same boat. Over a cup of coffee one morning, someone asked if we knew of any book clubs that were accepting new members. There wasn't so we formed our own and we're now into our second year of reading and have 15 members.

The Book Club: good books, good coffee and cake
This month we were reading a book that I had nominated: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. I was a little nervous as my enthused Atwood recommendations have not always met with success in the past. Despite being a fully paid up member of the "Atwood is Awesome" fan club, I know that her fiction can be a bit of an acquired taste. I got increasingly worried when I heard through the grapevine that a number of people were having a tough time with the book. Still, armed with my list of questions for discussion I braved the meeting. As I stirred my cup of tea, I eyed the other ladies... there were no signs of any concealed weapons so I saw fit to proceed.

What transpired was relieving. Although the larger portion had at first started off wondering what on earth this book was all about and why on earth I had recommended it, at least half ended up loving it and wanted to read Oryx and Crake, the complementary book and first in this MaddAddam trilogy (third book pending). Those that I failed to convince had good reasons: they found it too preachy or heavy-handed - and I can see how they could feel that. PHEW! It's always a bit of a risk when you put yourself out there and recommend a book that you really like but this time it paid off.

Have you ever made a recommendation for a book club or for a friend that you were a bit worried about? Tell me about it!


  1. I agree. I am always nervous when I recommend a book. I feel so vulnerable and worry that if they hate it, they'll think less of me. Sadly, it keeps me from recommending books as much as I would like to. I'm glad it worked out for you.

    I've only read A Handmaid's Tale, and I didn't love it. I really want to give her another try. Since you're an Atwood fan, what would you recommend?

  2. Well, I've made at least one recommendation for a book club, but I haven't even read the book! I've heard it was good, so I'm hoping that it is. My wife just read it and she liked it so hopefully. The book is Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, fyi. :)

    Thanks for adding OpenID. Now you can see that I was here (waving).

  3. I'm a big fan of Atwood's books, too, and have The Year of the Flood waiting patiently on my Kindle.

    I've heard, though, that I should read Oryx and Crake first...

    Yes, not everyone loves the same books, and it's disappointing when friends don't love our picks.

    But I've learned that MOST of my friends don't like the same books I love...go figure.


  4. I really enjoyed The Year of the Flood, and I am not a paying member of the Margaret Atwood fan club. I'm a new follower. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  5. @Kristi - I always worry about that too although I don't usually think less of anyone if they recommend a book I don't enjoy, so not sure what I worry about! The best Atwood I've read is Oryx and Crake. I also liked Surfacing and Moral Disorder but would recommend Oryx and Crake most strongly.

    Now I'm nervous again!

    @Unfinished Person - Yay! Thanks :) Zeitoun is on my MUST READ list. I've heard loads of great things plus the story fascinates me. Hmmm. Can I really justify another book purchase...?

    @Laurel-Rain - You don't have to have read Oryx and Crake first, they're about the same time period and have overlap but they're essentially two stand alone books that complement each other. I'd recommend reading Oryx and Crake, absolutely but the order doesn't matter. I'd be interested to see which you thought was the better of the two once you're done. My vote is with oryx and Crake.

    @Robyn - Thanks for coming by and the follow! Glad to hear you liked Year of the Flood.