World Book Day on March 6th has just taken place so what could be a better time to write about the three Book Groups we have in the Burnham-on-Crouch U3A?
The groups take a similar form to one another: chatter, discussion, refreshments and more chatter – do ladies chatter more than men?
Walking amongst the bookshelves perusing the titles for a good read you might be taken by ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ or ‘Bringing up the Bodies’, but would you be tempted to read ‘Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’? – probably not – however, the Literary Group were and this book by Aimee Bender was universally the least liked book of the past year. All group leaders were complimentary about the helpful library service, but because many copies of a book are needed at the same time it sometimes comes down to availability rather than choice. We each have different tastes in reading matter, but by belonging to a book group the members broaden their reading experience by reading books they might otherwise not choose. When a film of a book is shown at the cinema many book group members are keen to see it, with most preferring to do so after having read the book: but I warn you if you should be troubled by loud ‘tut, tuts’ you can be sure the film has deviated from the book and that a member of the Book Group is present It seems the groups all take a similar format – chatter, discussion, refreshments and more chatter
The Literary Group started shortly after our U3A was formed. The current leader, Lesley Harrington, took over about twelve months ago. She has ten enthusiastic group members who she tells me get quite animated in their discussions. Normally fiction is read but there have been non-fiction books too such as ‘Levelling Sea: The Story of a Cornish Haven and the Age of Sail’ by Philip Marsden, an account of Britain’s colourful maritime past seen through the changing fortunes of the Cornish port of Falmouth. Lesley reads book reviews (the Oldie magazine is one) to help with the choice of future books. They meet in various members’ houses and it is the host who writes a review of the book. As a group they are strong supporters of the Essex Book Festival. Their current book is ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford
Marion Watson started Bookworms in 2007 and she, being a nonagenarian, must be the oldest group leader we have. It is a small, friendly group who lunch together and visit the local cinema on a regular basis especially if the film is based on a book they have read, fairly recent ones being ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’. Crime fiction has been a great favourite, especially Patricia Cornwall in earlier years, and Carl Larsson’s trilogy. Classics by Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster have been enjoyed too. Like the other groups it is not often they all agree that a certain book has been a good read but there are a few authors they have all enjoyed such as Patrick Gale and Lynwood Barclay. Their current book is George Orwell’s ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’.
Although I visited all the group leaders the Book Group was the only group meeting I attended. Led by Phyllis Brame the group is just a year old (see December 2013 newsletter). Their current book ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern provoked a lively discussion. Opinions covered the whole spectrum from ‘not wanting to go beyond the cover’, ‘reading only two chapters’, ‘struggling to finish it’, ‘enjoying it’ and ‘would read it again’. Phyllis allowed each person their say with others joining in as to ‘why do you say/ think/ believe that?’ she kept them in order and when there was a pause she skilfully brought someone into the discussion. This group has the added benefit of the views from one member who uses audio books. For her the reader of the book plays an important part: Jim Dale was the reader here. Phyllis read out the reviews of those unable to join the group that day and in fact the group has gone global with comments sent from Australia. Quite a few of the group use Kindle format so they too can participate whilst on their travels. The afternoon finished with laughs and chatter over a glass of wine.
It was fascinating to hear from the group leaders and to see their enthusiasm and I hope that each month the leaders will send one review to David Gipson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for inclusion on the website so that we can all benefit from their views, and maybe the occasional one for the newsletter.
Regrettably all the groups are full – so there is a golden opportunity for another group to be formed perhaps with a few men.