What Liz read: Me on book clubs

Andy has gone, he’s buggered off to Turkey for a new job, and I’ve got the flat to myself for two whole months (freeeedooom!). Two months – imagine how much washing up will be waiting for him when he gets back? It’s already piling up, he’ll be in hog’s heaven. And then there’s the rubbish that needs to go out, I’m not even totally sure where that goes, and I think we’ve run out of teabags. But with all the spare time on my hands now that he won’t be around to fill it with cheery whimsy and lessons in world history, which I certainly won’t be filling with housework, I’ve decided to be more productive: more writing etc. I’ve also arrived at the idea that I’d like to join a book club.

After spending perhaps three minutes researching this, I’ve discovered that this isn’t as easy as I’d hoped. The vast majority of the book clubs turned up in my extremely comprehensive investigation – skim reading Google search returns for ‘nonfiction book clubs’ and ‘Wandsworth book clubs’ – have left me with the following options:

  • Joining the Wandsworth WI, who, although almost certainly offer the best cakes, read exactly the sort of Christiany, womany fiction you might expect – mustn’t reads a plenty.
  • Donning a tea dress to do brunch with one of the various ‘girly’ book clubs arranged through the site Meet-Up, but I fear I’m just not interested enough in hearing, or reading about, tricky situations involving an eyebrow pencil.
  • Moving to east London, or south east, an imploding black hole of creativity so immense that no cultural event, be it an art show or a literary pub quiz, can escape it’s iron grasp and take place anywhere else. But I don’t want to live there and am generally too lazy to visit.
  • Subscribing to an online book club – sitting at a laptop typing lengthy rambles into a thread that it’s likely no one will read or appreciate. Well, I have a blog for that.

All the book clubs I could find, even the more interesting few – and more importantly, closer to home such as Clapham Junction Book Club and Tooting Book Club – promise nonfiction (thus they turned up in my search), but predominantly seem to concentrate on fiction: you know, made-up stuff. I’m sure the latest Ian Rankin is great and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is awesome, or whatever, but where’s the, like, real stuff, man? The books about people’s real life journeys, through place and mind, landscape and grief, nature and nurture? Like Jay Griffith’s original exploration of wilderness and the five elements in Wild: An Elemental Journey (not to be confused with the wholly unoriginal, and riddled with TMIWild: A Journey From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed). Or anything by that old writer’s favourite, W.G. Sebald?

So I’ve no choice but to start my own book club because I like reading nonfiction, largely with a travely/naturey/experimental slant, not made up stuff. Because the problem with made-up stuff is, it’s made-up, and rarely is that as mentally fulfilling as stuff.

At the moment it’s an imaginary book club with one member. One member who will have to fill the roles of chair, as well as treasurer, reading list compiler, tea maker (we’ll have to go to the pub for that now I’ve run out of tea bags), and the drunk one who just comes along to bitch. My first nomination for the reading list, which has been accepted with a landslide 100% of the vote, is The Trip to Echo Falls: Why Writers Drink by Olivia Laing. I have largely chosen this as I’m already reading it.

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking

See you in a month when I will be debating with myself such questions as: ‘Did it give me smiley face or was it a bit meh?’ Please feel free to get hold of a copy (if the shop is anything to go by, shoplifting is ever so ‘now’ this summer) and join in with your thoughts.


4 thoughts on “What Liz read: Me on book clubs

  1. Thanks for linking to one of my reviews. Gosh… I really did not like the Strayed book. I guess you could tell.

    I like book clubs of one! I have been in the same club for almost 15 years. I took a one year break when they made it public and weird people started to show up but now I am back in it. I like it for the different points of view but often, there is a book or two that I don’t care to read. I’d much rather just read what I want, all the time.


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