Children’s need to belong, or the fear of exclusion, can be as intense as the need for sleep and sustenance, so they often band together in cliques and clubs. One of the weirdest fictional clubs I’ve come across, is the arson club in Jesse Ball’s novel, How to Set A Fire and Why. Memoirist, Irene Waters, is after your memories of joining a club: when did you join, why did you join and are you still a member?
Irene was also in the Red Cross but it’s interesting, given that she became a nurse and I didn’t, that she didn’t stay as long as I did. (Apologies for the competitive tone creeping in, but those trophies were important to us back then!) . But the Red Cross isn’t the kind of club she’s looking for in her Times Past project. However, I’m struggling to conjure up any others. Ours wasn’t the kind of school for organised clubs, although there was a drama club for a while in which, despite crippling shyness, let me play Alice in a performance of The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the school fete.
Nowadays, I haven’t the time or the sociability to join clubs, apart from the not-quite-monthly book group with a few friends. But I did have the pleasure of attending my first book group as an author recently, which was great fun. I’ve done a few bookshop signings and library events, and I’ve even managed to cobble together an entertaining story of what my book’s about, but it’s quite different meeting with a group who have all read my novel and formed opinions of their own. While it’s possible that my presence meant some held back on the negatives, we were able to discuss different perspectives on both the book itself and the issues it raises.
Not knowing quite how it would go, and wanting to ensure that the group members had space to hear each other’s reactions, rather than over-privileging the author’s point of view, I’d prepared some questions in case we got stuck. In the end, they weren’t needed, but I’ve posted them on the site for the use of other groups. If you have time, please have a look at them and let me know if you think they could be added to or improved.
As for my own reading, I achieved my Goodreads “challenge” of 100 books for 2016 a few days ago. Although I haven’t reviewed every one on Annecdotal, I have reviewed most, so thanks and congratulations to those who read my posts regularly: that’s a lot of books you’ve considered! If you’ve any energy left, click on the image for any of this month's thirteen you might have missed.