Seaside Book Club: January 2017 Meeting

by Deborah Rogers – 

It was cold and dark outside but inside the Nell Horth room coffee and treats from Quince Café warmed everyone up, ready to tackle the serious issues of January’s Book Club picks. Jumping in with both feet, we kicked off the Book Club year with two books: Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi and Pico Iyer’s The Art of Stillness. Both sparked discussion and some strong opinions.

Why choose the graphic novel form? What even is a graphic novel? We found the format of Persepolis almost as interesting as the content. Opinions differed as to its effectiveness as a format for storytelling, but for most participants, as it was their first experience of a graphic novel, it led to some interesting thoughts and suggestions for further reading from Virginia, our library liaison. Most readers felt that the story had told them details of Iran’s history they hadn’t known before and judged the child’s-eye view an effective way to simplify a complicated narrative. It was an interesting perspective, a feminist viewpoint and a family not quite like the ordinary people. Were we glad we read it? Definitely. Would we read on to the sequel and prequel? Not many hands up for that!

The Art of Stillness is a very slim volume, originally devised as a TED Talk, and some readers felt it should have remained as that. Whilst there was a lot of interest in and support for the idea of “stillness” as translated to mindfulness, a few of our readers felt quite strongly that Iyer was not the man to be prescribing this. From his privileged position it seemed hard to take seriously the idea that we should all step away from our lives and experience stillness, especially in the extreme forms presented by him (who has time to become a monk, or retreat for months at a time?) However, several readers were quite affected by his concise style and regular references to Leonard Cohen, a recurrent theme. Oh, and the photographs, we loved the photographs!

The Book Club selection for our February meeting is All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer. The meeting will be held on February 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Sidney/North Saanich Library. Visit for a more in-depth summary and to sign up.

Are you in a book club already? Let us know what you’re reading – we might want to read it too.

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