Appetite Book Club which is a group of people (between 40 and 70 in number) meeting monthly, over supper, to discuss a book title.
This is the easy part, although I understand it can be daunting the first time you come along. Walking into a large group is an intimidating thought until you realise you will be seated on tables of only 4 and it is here that you discuss the book – a far more intimate proposition than getting your opinion across to 70 other bookies. So yes, this is the easy part and if you are a book lover it is also easy to read the book beforehand.
The difficult task can be selecting which book we discuss. Throughout the year we will be swayed by the MAN BOOKER shortlist – we recently read Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh and previously, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. We may let book reviews and author articles sway us, for instance there was a wave of convincing writing about My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Then there are whispers from the general public – “Have you read Ian McEwan’s latest novel?” and the repeated and insistent demands of “WHEN are we reading Sarah Perry’s, The Essex Serpent?”.
I believe reviews, suggestions, articles and awards are usually enough to confirm the book choice but I wonder if the book should be read in full before it is suggested and then chosen? I work at Red Lion Bookshop and meet people from other book clubs and it is a subject for some debate. One customer is currently on her fifth book, still unsure which title to suggest to her own group.
I had no prior knowledge of the most recent Appetite book choice but a few other people had heard good things, and without reading it themselves, they felt the recommendations were enough to suggest it. A vote was cast and a majority outcome was enough to convince me to pick our first read of 2017. I’ve yet to finish it but my early opinion is that it isn’t a book I would have chosen. I couldn’t care less for it! Subsequent chapters, or the opinion of other bookies, may change my mind but in this instance I do wish I had read it before it was chosen. Although ultimately I prefer to enter the book club ‘deal’ with the same innocence as everybody else – i.e not having read the book, not knowing if it will be liked but signing up and facing that outcome regardless.
Roll on next month.
Appetite Book Club currently meet on the last Wednesday of each month but will soon be launching twice a month. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org