Simon’s Bookish Bits #29

As a change is as good as a rest I thought I would do one of my recently more random ‘Bookish Bits’ posts. I’ve a few little asks of you, when don’t I, all based around book groups including ideas for a great book group read, the TV Book Group and possible return of the Not The TV Book Group, oh plus a little health update and to remind you to let me know your thoughts on some books that I must get my mitts on in 2011.

First up for discussion today is Book Group choices. I am sure I have mentioned ‘ideal book group books before’ but now I call upon you for recommendations. Tonight I will be meeting up with my new book group for the second time to discuss Sara Gruen’s ‘Water For Elephants’ (which I will be discussing on the blog tomorrow) and afterwards I think I have to come up with a novel that’s my suggestion for a future read. Eek! I mean it’s not like I don’t have enough choice, and ideally I will be nominating something which is currently languishing on Mount TBR, it’s just when you put forward your first choice it says a lot about you. Well, that’s what I think anyway. So what do you suggest, what will cause great discussion without being something too light or too heavy?

Last night saw the return of The TV Book Group who discussed ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue. I was very sad not to see Laila on the opening show as I do have a soft spot for her, I think she really thinks it all through and quietly gets her point across. I did think Meera Syal was an absolutely brilliant addition to the show, really down to earth and real and quite happy to argue the case. You can see all the choices on their website, let me know if you have read any of them already and what you thought, and next week they will be discussing another of my favourite reads from last year The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy.

Now along those lines… I have had a few emails and enquiries in the flesh wondering whether in 2011 we might be repeating ‘Not The TV Book Group’. I would love, love, love to do it again and so have sent the feelers out via email to my lovely co-judges from last year to see their thoughts. I am hoping they all say yes, no pressure of course ha, ha, ha! Would you like to see the ‘Not The TV Book Group’ return in 2011? What sort of titles would you like to see? Unknown new or older books, books from certain eras, debut novels? Let me know your thoughts.

Oh and a little note on my health while we are catching up, no real news because it seems all my records from London have gone walkies and so now I am going through the whole rigmarole again. Back to the tests and the hospital visits and all that palaver… eurgh, let’s go back to discussing books shall we?

So to recap… which books on Mount TBR do you think would make great book group reads and why? Or what other books would you recommend from your own book group experience? What were your thoughts on the new series of The TV Book Club and would you like to see Not The TV Book Group return and with what? Oh and I almost forgot… any thoughts as to books I simply must try and devour in 2011, pop here if so!


Filed under Book Group, Not The TV Book Group, Simon's Bookish Bits

13 responses to “Simon’s Bookish Bits #29

  1. I have been looking forward to the return of ‘The TV Book Group’ and I’m catching up on the repeat this afternoon. So more of my views on the programme later!

    I really like the idea of the ‘Not The TV Book Group’. I would love to discuss books with others (that’s partly why I blog about them), but as there are no book groups around here, this would be great way to do so.

    • Oooh I look forward to your thoughts on it Karen. I was really, really thrilled Meera was on it.

      I have sent an email to the other judges so time will tell if it comes back or not, we will see.

      • Well, I’ve seen the first episode and even though I like Meera Syal, I missed seeing Laila.

        However, I’m really glad that the first review was of ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue, because I have read mixed reviews about this, on the blogosphere. The panel’s review was equally mixed, however I think that this novel looks interesting.

        I also think that ‘Tiger Hills’ by Sarita Mandanna, ‘The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot and ‘My Last Duchess’ by Daisy Goodwin, all look interesting reads. So I’m looking forward to watching the rest of this series, to find out what the panel thinks of these.

  2. I quite enjoyed NTTVBG last time around and thought the choices were quite good then as well. I think relatively unknown authors, published within the last 5 years and under 350 pages is quite a good rule of thumb.

    Watched the TV book club, I missed Laila too! I’m looking forward to them discussing Even the Dogs because if Jo found Room depressing I think Even the Dogs might just send her over the edge completely.

    • Glad that you enjoyed it last time round Jessica, I think my main change would be maybe one a month not one every fortnight as I loved it but it did break my whim reading a little and whims are big for me this year.

      Laila is wonderful, I think she is back next week… I certainly hope so.I havent read Even The Dogs yet, is it that dark (which could make it a huge hit with me or ruin it lol)

  3. I’m going to be catching up on the TV Book Club tonight. I’ll be missing Laila too as she was probably my favourite presenter on the show.

    About book group choices, I think it would be nice if people read outside their comfort zone a little. And maybe something that most people wouldn’t have really heard of or come across before. That’s one of the reasons I joined:)

    • Fortunately I think Laila is only gone for a week. I am still reserving judgement on Dave Spikey he makes me laugh and annoys me in equal measure lol.

      I don’t know everyone at the group enough to know what a comfort zone is, I might try and hold off a month and see what gets chosen next and get to know them all a little better.

  4. I would love to see the return of the ‘Not The TV Book Group’! It was wonderful to see the variety of perspectives on so many different books last year and to feel part of a book group (even better, only having to participate when you wanted to, unlike the other book groups I’ve been a member of). As for selection, as far as I’m concerned the more random the better!

  5. Simon, hope all is fine with your tests!

    Let’s work on your TBR for the book club:

    The Screwtape Letters – C. S. Lewis
    A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
    Disgrace – J. M. Coetzee
    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
    The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
    Property – Valerie Martin
    The Attack – Yasmina Khadra

  6. m

    From your mammoth pile, I’d choose Olive Kitteridge (one of my best reads last year); Someone at a Distance; The Tortoise and the Hare (one of the best books about marriage that I’ve ever read) – and any one of these three should polarise any book group. Also Cousin Phillis, simply because it’s lovely. And Out, Natsuo Kirino because it’s absolutely riveting.

  7. ana

    Loved being part of the NTTVBG in 2010. Such interesting perspectives shared. It was exciting being part of the challenge to discover the books in time through local libraries, and to read outside my comfort zone. And to have the chance to discuss reactions in “real time” with readers from around the world. The selection criteria you used were helpful making it possible for most of us to get hold of the titles. Once a month is probably better than once a fortnight.

    A couple of the novels I read last time were among my most memorable for the year and I am sure it was the whole package of the NTTVBG that was significant there.

    Glad to see such positive comments posted already on this proposal!!

  8. First off, I will be interested in your discussion of Water for Elephants. We had a lively discussion on it last year.

    One of the best discussions we have had recently was Pillars of the Earth. It’s long, but, it’s good and a different read for Follet. I’ve read it twice, once when it first came out, and then again. Right now we are reading A Reliable Wife and, having just finished it, I know it will be a good talk.

    Here’s what I’ve observed. The books that start to create chatter among our group before the group with complaints about characters or “I don’t like how it ended” ALWAYS bring about the best discussion.

    Have fun!

  9. I am probably slightly biased as I just loved the book so much but I think Hearts and Minds would make a great book group reading choice. My best friend read it straight after me and we couldn’t stop talking about it!

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