I was thrilled to see The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood on this list of best book club reads which appears in today’s Woman and Home magazine. There are some cracking books on this list – I’ve read 12 of them. Oddly enough, only two of were for my book club, although there are others on the list that we’ve all read independently and so we’ve talked about them anyway.
So what makes a good book club read? This is what Woman and Home has to say: ‘A great book club book is one That you don’t simply read and then place back on your shelf to gather dust, but thrust into the hands of your friends and family, urging them that they must read it, too, because you are absolutely desperate to talk about it with someone. These are the stories that lend themselves perfectly to being the very best book club books.’
I would agree with most of that, and I certainly hope that it’s the reason The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood often comes up as a great book club read. But I think another important factor is that there needs to be something a little unusual, possibly even controversial about the book; something that’s going to spark a good discussion.
In my opinion, great book club book is not necessarily one that everyone has loved. It’s great to read a book that everyone loves, but it’s no good if you then just have another glass of wine,and says, ‘Cheers, great book, we’re all agreed.’
There are seven of us in our book club, and while there certainly have been books we’ve all loved and have had great discussions about – Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus springs to mind, also, The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller. There have also been books that we’ve felt to be deeply flawed but which we’ve still enjoyed reading, and which have sparked long and interesting discussions. Then there are the books we disagreed on, the ‘I loved it’ versus the ‘I couldn’t even finish it’ books. It is perhaps these books that have sparked some of the longest and most stimulating discussions!
Once, we even had reasonably interesting (though obviously fairly short) discussion about a book we all hated so much we actually sacked it off before we even met for book club! The very fact that we broke the ‘no discussion before the meeting’ rule is an indication of how much we hated this book. And no, I’m not going to name it, because why would you?
our book club
A few other details about our book club: we usually meet in pubs so that no-one Feels they have to ‘host’ the meeting. Although we do meeting each other’s houses from time to time – if it’s tricky for someone to get out, for example, or special occasions such as Christmas or someone’s birthday. At the moment, of course, we are meeting virtually, through Skype. It’s still fun, and we still drink wine ( of course) but it’s not quite the same.
We take it in turns to choose the books, and we always supply a choice of three or four. Then everyone votes, and we go for the favorite.
I am enormously flattered that all of my books have been considered good ‘bookclub books’, with The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood perhaps being the most discussed, and The Things We Never Said coming a close second.
I love hearing from book clubs who discussed my books – especially if they really liked them! I’ve also loved being invited To come along to book clubs and give a talk/answer questions about my books. Obviously, this was back in the days when we didn’t have to socially distance – let’s hope those days return very soon!
In the meantime, I’d love to know what you think makes a great book club book!
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