by Deborah Rogers & Virginia MacLeod
We’ve been missing our regular book club meetings and know the whole community is missing the library. But behind the scenes there’s been book chat happening, and tentative plans to host a virtual meeting. We expect many conversations between friends and family will be going something like ours:
DR: Hi Virginia, hope you’re okay. It’s really strange having the library closed. Let me know what you’re reading …
VM: I’ve been having trouble concentrating; so far my reading has been almost all vegetable gardening and kids books … Backyard Bounty by Linda Gilkeson is an old favourite and fantastic for our local conditions. I also happened to have Small-Space Vegetable Gardens by Andrea Bellamy checked out from the library before it closed. It’s pretty good too. How about you, have you been reading?
DR: I’m very grateful for Overdrive (the library app that lets you check out e-books); it’s provided some great, light stuff. I read the latest Jenny Colgan, The Bookshop on the Shore; and am in line for some old Liane Moriarty titles. I wish I hadn’t read The Last Anniversary on my holiday last year, I think it would be perfect escapist material now! I’ve also finally got around to reading A Gentleman in Moscow which I’ve had on the shelf for months. It’s totally apt to read about someone under house (hotel) arrest! And after resisting the style for a bit, I’m now contemplating getting stuck into some of my old 19th Century Russian novels!
VM: Tolstoy? Dostoyevsky? Things are getting serious! Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles) is so good – glad you stopped resisting it!
DR: One book I read this past week that I won’t recommend is The Woman in the Window by A J Finn. It’s another person who’s locked in, though for different reasons, and although under normal circumstances I might have found it a gripping thriller, with the current situation it seemed far too claustrophobic and dark! Is “locked in” literature a thing do you think? I’m thinking about Room by Emma Donoghue; what else?
VM: I must confess, I am trying to avoid reading anything too dark at the moment! I usually enjoy futuristic dystopias, especially with a Canadian setting, like Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, or Greenwood by Michael Christie, just not right now. One of our longstanding book club members told me in the past that she likes to reread beloved books like the Harry Potter series or Emma by Jane Austen for comfort. I am right there with her!
DR: I agree. Rereading an old favourite is like visiting with an old friend. I love to dip back into Douglas Adams for light relief: This weekend was Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
VM: It’s fun to see what you’re reading. Any other suggestions? This week has been all about Ali Smith for me: The Public Library and Other Stories and Autumn. I received a few of her books as gifts recently and it’s been good to finally read and enjoy them. I have also been listening to Calypso by David Sedaris. Some of his stories are pretty dark and a bit sad but the laughs, when they come, feel really good. Can you imagine being in quarantine with the Sedaris family? There is something comforting about listening to audiobooks, at least for me right now.
DR: I really enjoyed Autumn and it’s nice and short for anyone struggling with attention span at the moment. Family dynamics are a big consideration in this period of isolation. Have you read any Marian Keyes? I just finished Grown Ups: I simultaneously longed to be part of the extended Irish family at its centre, and shuddered at the closeness!
Stay home; stay safe; stay entertained. Book Club meetings are on hold for now, but we will be trying to hold a virtual meeting. Email subscribers should watch out for the details soon. Sign up to the book club: seasidemagazine.ca/book-club. Did you know that you can register for a library card online? Just visit your local library website.
Join us next month on March 10 to discuss Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Sidney North Saanich Library’s Nell Horth Room. Sign up for the Book Club email list: seasidemagazine.ca/book-club.
Book Club Q & A
Q How do you choose the books?
A The book selection is a little down to luck – each month the Sidney/North Saanich Library tries to get hold of a book club set for us to use. Availability is based on demand. So far we have had a choice between several titles each month, and have voted which one to use. Generally this will mean that people can leave the meeting with a copy of next month’s read. Book Club members can suggest titles they would be interested in reading from the VIRL book club sets list:
Q How do you structure the meeting?
A Members bring questions or discussion points with them, written down. These are put in a “hat” and drawn from to keep the discussion going. It leads to diverse questions and no need for anyone to feel self-conscious. The meeting is facilitated by Seaside Magazine’s Deborah and Sidney/North Saanich Library’s Virginia.
Q How do I stay up to date with Book Club happenings?
A Sign up for our mailing list and you’ll get meeting reminders by email. And follow us on Facebook to see everything that’s happening at Seaside Magazine!