I’ve never written a round up of our book club reads before but I think as I’ve attended every meeting this year, I thought it would be a good reminder and also maybe an inspiration to others who run a book club.
I started attending the Shoreham by Sea book club in Jan 2015 – my mum had just died and I had a few days off work and spotted a sign in the local WH Smiths and joined immediately on Meetup. I found I loved the meetings and the challenge of reading books I wouldn’t normally pick up. When the lady who started it stepped down, I took over the organisation of it.
In 2020 we moved from Meetup (which was quite expensive) to Facebook (which is free) but then of course lockdown hit and we could no longer meet in person. We carried on during lockdown via Zoom and the odd meeting in the park, but by late 2020 as my marriage broke down, I found it harder to concentrate so took a step back and one of my lovely book club friends too over the organisation of the meetings. By January 2022 we were back to meetings monthly in person and it has been lovely. We have had new people join and I love the friendships I have made and the discussions we have.
Now we always meet on the last Tuesday of every month in an annex of a local pub who after lockdown have been great in helping to advertise us. There are around 100 members on the Facebook group and we can usually have around 10 of us attend each month and we choose our books based on one of the themes published on one of the local library reading lists. We all nominate books based on the theme then vote for the one we will read. The meetings are very relaxed – we always give a score out of 10 and one word to describe the book at the beginning of the meeting. After we chat we revisit our scores as often we find we change our mind after hearing other opinions!
In 2022 we were also lucky enough to have two author visits which are always very popular.
Books we read in 2022
- January 2022 A book from your shelves
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Having already read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett in June 2020, I didn’t reread this one but enjoyed the discussion – a popular choice!
- February 2022 A book that has been recommended to you
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
I went into The Remains of the Day knowing it probably wouldn’t be my thing but I’m glad I read it! I found it really engaging in some places but slow in others but it was a popular choice and well received.
- March 2022 A book to make you feel good
A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman
The danger of choosing a book, based on it’s title alone is that this one didn’t really fit the brief. A real mixed bag of opinions, I wasn’t keen but others loved it and that’s what I love – the discussion!
- April 2022 A translated book
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
“Unexpected” was the word I chose for Anxious People – it had humour but also was much more emotional than I expected. We’d previously read A Man Called Ove back in 2016 so I was happy to return to this author. A mixed reaction to this one – some of us really enjoyed it while others found some of the characters annoying and the whole premise a bit silly.
- May 2022 A book that celebrates diversity
Lot by Bryan Washington
A small turn out for this book (just 3 of us) and we weren’t sure it really fitted the “celebrates diversity” brief but I found this one interesting and shocking at times. It was a change to read some short stories.
- June 2022 A book set where you live
The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
We were very lucky to have special guest Elly Griffiths along for our meeting in June to discuss her life as an author, her publishing career and writing process but also to talk about her book The Postscript Murders which is set in Shoreham! I’d previously read this for a blog tour back in October 2020 but reread it for the meeting and enjoyed it more this time. A well received book and a brilliant speaker!
- July 2022 A Book to celebrate the great outdoors
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
I love Bill Bryson’s books and I was thrilled to read one again having not read one for many years. I did enjoy this, maybe not as much as his others but it was informative and funny so was generally a win from book club members.
- August 2022 A banned book
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Some shocking moments but it is also a heart-warming and interesting read and I learnt a lot about Native American Indians from a narrator who felt very much like a teenage boy, raging hormones and all! Overall as a book club our thoughts were mixed – one low score but mostly well thought of.
- September 2022 A book about books, reading or libraries
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
I enjoyed The Diary of a Bookseller but at times it was a little repetitive and not much happened. I appreciate that was because it is based on his true life experience so not every day is going to be exciting but I wonder if he should maybe not of documented every single day. I also think I would have enjoyed it more if the blurb didn’t describe it as hilarious, because I felt a little let down. I think for me (and most of the book group) this was a 3/5 book. I enjoyed it in parts but for me it didn’t live up to my expectations.
- October 2022 Author Visit
The Counterfeit Candidate by Brian Klein
It was really interesting listening to Brian talk about his writing and publishing journey. He is a well known director of factual entertainment programmes and when lockdown happened in 2020 and his work stopped overnight, he decided to try and write a book. The Counterfeit Candidate was the result.
- November 2022 A Prize Winning Book
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I found the first two thirds of the book hard going. I didn’t engage with the story or the characters and if it wasn’t for book club, I wouldn’t have carried on. But once I hit the final third, something just clicked and I couldn’t stop reading and I really enjoyed it, although I thought the epilogue was a bit odd…
We all agreed the book was a little slow and the scores were mid-range.
- December 2022 Murder Mystery Christmas book
The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict
For December book club, we always choose a Christmas themed murder mystery. Two book club members read the whole book in advance and give everyone else the page number at which to stop before the big reveal. Then on the night we have a fun discussion as everyone tries to guess who the murderer is and the motive. This year, I was one of the readers who read in advance and I really enjoyed hearing everyone’s guesses. And the book was a popular choice too!
So there we have it – a year in book club. I hope you enjoyed it and liked our choices of books!
I loved The Vanishing Half. Have read the Bill Bryson too some time ago and enjoyed that. A great range of books.
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Great roundup. You read some good books and gave me possible recommendations for my own book club. Thanks for a post idea too. I dedicate a day each week on my blog for my book club discussions, posting at the beginning of the year the tbr list, but never did a roundup of final thoughts. 🤔
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Glad you enjoyed it – it was the first time for me and I think I will do it again!
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