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March meeting

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, this Sunday 21 March at West End Coffee Club at 2pm.

I finished reading the novel a couple of days ago. I found it a little slow compared to North and South and other novels, but still fascinating and surprisingly fun. But more of that on Sunday! I hope to get a hold of the BBC miniseries before then.

Care to join me?

If attendance remains low, we'll have to consider alternatives, such as changing meeting times if that will allow more people to come. Or it might be a good idea to re-advertise on brisneyland.

March book choices

sly_cult_race and I came up with a small shortlist today for next month's book.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
In this witty comedy of early Victorian life in a country town, author Elizabeth Gaskell describes the uneventful lives of the lady-like inhabitants so as to offer an ironic commentary on the diverse experiences of men and women. This edition has detailed notes and a new Introduction which discusses the originality and subtlety of the book's angle on women's experience.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
The story follows a warren of Berkshire rabbits fleeing the destruction of their home by a land developer. As they search for a safe haven, skirting danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band and its compelling culture and mythos. Adams has crafted a touching, involving world in the dirt and scrub of the English countryside, complete with its own folk history and language (the book comes with a "lapine" glossary, a guide to rabbitese). As much about freedom, ethics, and human nature as it is about a bunch of bunnies looking for a warm hidey-hole and some mates, Watership Down will continue to make the transition from classroom desk to bedside table for many generations to come.

The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin
Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender--or both--this is a broad gulf indeed. The inventiveness and delicacy with which Le Guin portrays her alien world are not only unusual and inspiring, they are fundamental to almost all decent science fiction that has been written since.

We hope to get a few more people coming to meetings, so please comment on which books you'd like to read! The two of us settled on Cranford as our first preference. If no-one else comments by Wednesday, that will be the chosen book.

February meeting

Murder on the Orient Express, tomorrow, West End Coffee Club, 2pm.

I'll be there, I'm really looking forward to this one! Who's with me?
The book for next month's meeting will be "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie.

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer -- in case he or she decides to strike again.

The meeting will be at 2pm on the 21st of February, at the West End Coffee Club on Boundary St.

January's meeting

Just a reminder, we will be having this month's meeting, discussing Nick Hornby's "About a Boy", at 2 pm this Sunday at the West End Coffee Club.
So, given four of the five people who voted included a vote for About a Boy, it is our winner for January.

Also, I apologise for the massive length of my previous post, and more specifically for the fact that I forgot to put in a cut to hide the vastness of it. At least this time I kept it short.

The meeting will be usual time and place, Sunday the 17th of January at 2pm, West End Coffee Club. See you then.

January Selection nominations

So we had a very good meeting today talking about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; almost an hour and a half on topic! I think everyone likes the book swap books they received as well, so success all around. We were all a little indecisive about what to read for next month, so we have some nominations, and we can pick one based on comments in a few days time.

And the nominees are [drum roll]:

"A Wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula Le Guin
Often compared to Tolkien's Middle-earth or Lewis's Narnia, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea is a stunning fantasy world that grabs quickly at our hearts, pulling us deeply into its imaginary realms. Four books (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu) tell the whole Earthsea cycle--a tale about a reckless, awkward boy named Sparrowhawk who becomes a wizard's apprentice after the wizard reveals Sparrowhawk's true name. The boy comes to realize that his fate may be far more important than he ever dreamed possible. Le Guin challenges her readers to think about the power of language, how in the act of naming the world around us we actually create that world. (...) In this first book, A Wizard of Earthsea readers will witness Sparrowhawk's moving rite of passage--when he discovers his true name and becomes a young man. Great challenges await Sparrowhawk, including an almost deadly battle with a sinister creature, a monster that may be his own shadow. (Amazon.com)

"The Taming of the Shrew" by Shakespeare
Comedy in five acts by William Shakespeare, produced about 1593 and printed in the Folio of 1623. Considered one of Shakespeare's bawdier works, the play describes the volatile courtship between the shrewish Katharina and the canny Petruchio, who is determined to subdue Katharina's legendary temper and win her dowry. The main story is offered as a play within a play; the frame story consists of an initial two-scene "induction": a lord offers the love story as an entertainment for tinker Christopher Sly, recovering from a drunken binge at an alehouse. Although Katharina repeatedly insults Petruchio, he woos, wins, and tames her by insisting that she is actually the soul of gentleness and patience. After their marriage, he makes her forgo food, sleep, and fancy clothing, and he outdoes her mean tongue by abusing the servants. In the final scene, Petruchio wins a bet that his wife is the most obedient after Katharina gives a speech extolling the virtues of wifely subservience. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature (via Amazon.com)
With this one we can also bring in a comparison of 10 Things I Hate About You.

"Othello" by Shakespeare
Othello, the Moor of Venice
is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1603, and based on the Italian short story "Un Capitano Moro" ("A Moorish Captain") by Cinthio, a disciple of Boccaccio, first published in 1565. The work revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and his trusted ensign Iago. Because of its varied themes — racism, love, jealousy, and betrayalOthello remains relevant to the present day and is often performed in professional and community theatres alike. The play has also been the basis for numerous operatic, film, and literary adaptations. (Wikipedia)
It is strangely difficult to find a blurb for this, so instead we have the main themes. Also apparently there is a town called Othello in the US state of Washington. Fun fact.

"Lysistrata" by Aristophanes
(Attic Greek: Λυσιστράτα, "Army-disbander") is one of the few surviving plays written by the master of Old Comedy, Aristophanes. Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end The Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata convinces the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace, a strategy however that inflames the battle between the sexes. The play is notable for its exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society and for its use of both double entendre and explicit obscenities. The dramatic structure represents a shift away from the conventions of Old Comedy, a trend typical of the author's career. It was produced in the same year as Thesmophoriazusae, another play with a focus on gender-based issues, just two years after Athens' catastrophic defeat in the Sicilian Expedition. (Wikipedia)

"About a Boy" by Nick Hornby
How cool is 36-year-old Will Lightman? Sub-zero, according to the questionnaire in his favorite men's magazine. Not only does he own more than five hip-hop albums (five points), he's also slept with a woman he didn't know very well within the last three months (another five points). Targeting single mothers, he joins a single parents' group under false pretenses and is soon drawn into the lives of depressed Fiona and her bright 12-year-old son, Marcus. Suddenly, his life is messy and complicated, and he's horrified when he realizes that he's now hanging with the type of people who gather around the piano to sincerely sing songs like "Both Sides Now" with their eyes closed. This is Hornby's second novel (following High Fidelity, 1995), and it's obvious he has an uncanny ability for homing in on wholly contemporary, often serious topics and serving them up in truly hilarious fashion. His skillful analysis of hipster angst has obviously struck a chord (...). Joanne Wilkinson via Amazon.com

"The Once and Future King" by T.H. White
T. H. White uses The Once and Future King as his own personal view of the ideal society. The book, most of which "takes place on the isle of Gramarye," chronicles the raising and education of King Arthur, his rule as a king, and the romance between his best knight Sir Lancelot and his Queen Guinevere (which he spells Guenever). It ends immediately before Arthur's final battle against his illegitimate son Mordred. Though White admits his book's source material is loosely derived from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (The Death of Arthur), he creates a personal reinterpretation of the epic events, filling them with renewed meaning for a world enduring the Second World War. (Wikipedia)
Apparently there are also a lot of entertaining (intentional) anachronisms in it.

The final (but actually first suggested) idea is to pick a fairy tale, maybe Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, all read a single old version (e.g. the Grimms' version), as well as a fractured version of it. If we choose one on Project Gutenberg, then we can know we all read the same version.

That is the finish of my rambling for now, so hope everyone is enjoying there holidays if they've started, or otherwise will enjoy them.

December meeting

Poll is late this week, because I am slack. Sorry!

Poll #1500518 Brisneybooks December meeting

Will you be attending the meeting this month on Sunday the 20th of December to discuss Jonathan Strange?

Yes and I shall be expecting something nice from Santa this year
No and Santa will probably be looking into his pile of coal for me
Maybe Santa can come up with some kind of nice thing/coal hybrid, as I am undecided

2pm! West End Coffee Club! But you know that by now :D

For those of you who would like to re-gift this year, please remember to bring a wrapped book for swapping! As I don't think I'll be able to make it this week, if someone could either post next month's selection after the meeting, or poke me and I'll have a post up.

Happy Holidays, guys! And enjoy your new year! ♥

December re-gifting

Hi there ladies and gents. How're you all enjoying this weekend? How about that measley rain we got for five seconds today, eh? I meant to post about this sooner, but better late than never I s'pose. Lucy reminded me about the re-gifting you guys did last year, and, to C+P the details, because I'm too lazy to put it into my own words:

We do a re-gifting book exchange to celebrate the festive season. The proposition is that if you decide to come to the next book-club meeting, you bring along a wrapped book that you would not mind re-gifting, everyone picks out a book from the selection, and takes it home with a new and shiny-- if slightly previously read book.

A reminder'll be posted along with next week's poll, and as previous, this is totally voluntary. Hope y'all are making good progress through Jonathan Strange!