We recently commemorated our 10-year milestone with a paper bookmark. I thought long and hard about which literary quote to include on this destructible slip of cardboard which represents 10 years, 100 books, over 500 members (coming and going), many authors and lots of friendships. If we make it to 2027, I have promised a leather bookmark. 😉
100 books over the ten years are because we don’t meet in August or December. We have chosen books that have gone on to win notable prizes and been made into films, allowing us a little smugness…. “Well, of course, the book was better”. An exception to this was REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates, where a group outing to the cinema visually portrayed the withering looks and pained faces of a marriage breaking down, as described in the book. During 10 years there have also been moments where we have consciously (and sometimes subconsciously matched our outfits to the book. This is in no way obligatory but has been fun for the more flamboyant members and mildly amusing for others. We wore yellow for Laline Paull’s THE BEES, and saris for Q&A by Vikas Swarup. When we discussed Ian McKwan’s The Children Act somebody bought a barrister’s wig…
We meet in a restaurant and discuss books over supper and a glass of wine. Early on, we used to meet at the now closed, Appetite Cafe. The summer it closed was a sunny one so we met in my garden until we found a new ‘home’. We have had a few other exceptions to our three main venues including a power cut which meant we had to abandon our pre-ordered menu and head to a pizzeria instead. Once, Channel 4 wanted to film a book club, at short notice. We returned to my house, asking local baker Good Souls Bakery to supply last minute soup, bread and cake. We rearranged the furniture, borrowed garden chairs and used my daughter to serve us. You may have spotted us on LOOSE WOMEN, discussing ELIZABETH WENT MISSING by Emma Healey but it is unlikely, as our moment of fame was miscredited as “….a book club from Yorkshire.”. Although I’m pretty sure our dulcet Essex accents gave us away! Another time a small group of us piled into a camper van, with blankets and nibbles, and headed to a member’s beach hut in Walton-On-Sea where we sat under the hugest moon discussing our favourite books.
Which brings me back to the quote I eventually settled on. An Oscar Wilde one, “With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?”.
At a push, I could live without the flowers but the rest are essential!