A GOOD BEGINNING BOOK FOR A BEGINNING BOOK CLUB

As promised, the “Book Discussion”—that necessary ritual that will turn us into a legitimate Book Club ―is now set to begin.

In my December 20th posting (see LET’S TALK TURKEY, err……BOOKS!), I left you with two sets of questions:

1.   What was your overall impression of the book?  Did you enjoy it? Did it exasperate you? Were you pleasantly surprised? Disappointed?

 2.   As things stand right now, and not having discussed it with us here, would you recommend it? How would you describe the book to someone, in a few sentences?

frozenSo far, you’ve been quiet. Maybe you were frozen stiff by the Polar Vortex? But now that temperatures have thawed a bit, it’s time to get busy sharing and discussing, so I guess I’ll go first.

I propose that we start with Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club because, as Gail Richardson commented back in late October, “It sounds like a good beginning book for a beginning book club.”

I find her logic unimpeachable.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the theme of death runs through all four books chosen for discussion, both in English and in French.  Considering that these books were chosen in a most unsystematic way, this is really quite extraordinary. Still, on the English side at least, humour is also an essential ingredient in both books, so no one should have been too weighed down by their 0307399664.01.LZZZZZZZreading.

What was my overall impression of The End of Your Life Book Club? My expectations were high. I had heard Will Schwalbe interviewed by Mike Finnerty on CBC Radio’s “The Current”, and I had also heard Schwalbe on an NPR broadcast. He is quite charming and forthcoming, and it seemed to me that his personal account of the last part of his mother’s life had all the ingredients for a great read: it promised to be deeply personal, often touching and full of insight; it was about a mother-son relationship (I have three sons); it was about literature and two voracious readers’ shared passion for the written word; it was a bestseller in spite of its title.

So I am sorry to say that though I enjoyed the book and found it to be an effortless read, I was, in fact, somewhat disappointed by its limitations. I have lots of good things to say about it, and would recommend it, but I would do so with a caveat.

I don’t propose to go into an analysis or critique right now, because I’m more interested in your overall impressions.

Next, we will look into Jonas Jonasson’s zany novel, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, and survey your overall impressions before digging into both books in earnest.

The time has come to TALK BOOKS!

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