I get asked a lot of questions about book club. Since it’s an uncommon thing for a group of 20-somethings to do for fun, people are generally curious. Some of the most-asked questions are:
What if you don’t like a book? Do you have to read it?
What if you don’t have time to read a whole book each month?
I always say the same thing. It’s like anything else – you get out of it what you put into it. The people who love book club the most try to read all the books and make time for it, even if they’re not particularly interested in something. That’s part of the fun – being exposed to novels you’d otherwise not pick up. But, everyone is going to skip a book every now and then. Some novels just aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine with us.
So no, we don’t force or require our members to read every book or even to finish them. But it’s more fun if you do!
When discussing a book, it’s always interesting to hear each other’s opinions. We don’t always agree, although more often than not we’re generally on the same page. What’s really uplifting is talking about the books we love – the stories that make us laugh, smile and tug at our heartstrings.
In 2012, we – predictably – read 12 books (one each month):
- Jan 2012 – The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
- Feb 2012 – The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
- Mar 2012 – The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes
- Apr 2012 – The Birth House – Ami McKay
- May 2012 – Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James
- June 2012 – Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan
- July 2012 – Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel
- Aug 2012 – The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
- Sept 2012 – Something Fierce – Carmen Aguirre
- Oct 2012 – 419 – Will Ferguson
- Nov 2012 – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson
- Dec 2012 – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
Some of these were timely (Fifty Shades of Grey), some of these were award-winners (419) and some of these were unfortunately total duds (Are You My Mother?). And – drum roll please – some of these were our absolute favourites. Counting down though the top three (based on member votes), here they are:
3. Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter – Carmen Aguirre
The winner of 2012 Canada Reads, this is the engaging and revealing true story of a Canadian-born girl and her experiences in South America during the 1980s. Collectively, we learned a lot. This was a period of history we knew next to nothing about. The best part was that it was as suspenseful and funny as it was educational, which we really appreciated. Personally, I alternated between reading the novel and listening to the Canada Reads podcast, where Aguirre actually reads the novel.
2. The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
Heartbreakingly beautiful, this is a novel that will be cherished for years to come. It’s not a romance in the traditional sense of boy-meets-girl-and-falls-in-love, but a more complex, deep love with unexpected twists and turns along the way. We came to adore the expertly-written characters and vivid descriptions, making you feel as though you were living the story. More than one member admitted to crying most of the way through the novel because the story so intimately resonated with them – so much so that this novel almost tied for our favourite book of 2012.
1. The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes
Our very favourite book in 2012. The story of Tony Webster and his seemingly simple life can be described as nothing other than brilliant. On the surface, nothing about him or anything he’s been through appears exceptional or special – but memory can play tricks on people, especially over time. How you remember a person, an event or a feeling can evolve, and ultimately end up quite different from the truth. It was no surprise to us that this novel won the 2011 Man Booker – we were impressed and enchanted by it’s intricate, thought-provoking characters and careful, poignant writing. Short and yet totally adequate, we urge you not to pass up what will undoubtedly become a British classic.
What was your favourite novel in 2012?