Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Perfect Gift

I have been part of a bookclub in our small town for the last three years. I have had a great time with this group of people, most of whom are also my workmates. Once a month we meet at someone's house. Someone else will present a book they have chosen, kickstarting discussion with some points or question- it's all pretty informal. Drinking wine and eating good food are an important part of the equation. We always have a good discussion about the book before getting off track and discussing life, the universe and everything. I have loved getting together with friends for the sole purpose of talking about books and reading- something there should be more of! The combination of people in our group has also been crucial to its success: we have both men and women and a range of age groups, and we share generally similar tastes in literary fiction.

Last night, however, was the last bookclub for me, having just found out that I am moving to another town in January. It was, as usual, a great night, and I felt my first twinges of remorse about moving (well that's not exactly true, I'll really miss friends here but the move is a very good one for lots of reasons). The other bookclub members got together and organised a really touching farewell present for me: each of them chose a well-loved book from their shelves and wrote a farewell message on the inside cover. I came home clutching my pile of books (swaying a bit, but that was the wine), filled with remorse that I won't get to be there for future heated discussions.

This morning, after the hangover wore off, I examined my gift books. I can't wait to read all of them! They are:
  • Gertrude and Claudius John Updike
  • The Elephant Vanishes Haruki Murakami
  • Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World Claudia Roth Pierpont (ed)
  • Night Letters Robert Dessaix
  • Intimacy Hanif Kureishi
  • Rembrandt's Whore Sylvie Matton
  • The Art of Travel Alain de Botton
I haven't read any of these but they all look great. I've wanted to read more Murakami for a while now (I've only read Dance, Dance, Dance which was bizarre but fascinating) and (and I'm ashamed to admit this) I've never read any John Updike. The nice thing is, is that as I read each of these books I can think of the person who gave it to me.

Meanwhile, the search begins for a bookclub in my new town...

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