Posted by: billpurdue | April 1, 2008

Edition 3

 Edition 3

Read and make friends

A good way to enjoy reading and meet people at the same time is to join a reading group. There are quite a few groups around and some of these are based in local libraries. I thought it would be a good idea to find out how some of these groups work and what they enjoyed reading. I’ve started with a group which I already know: the Selston Reading Group which is based at Selston Library. The group, which numbers around 14 people, meets at 2 pm at Selston Library on the first Thursday of the month. When I dropped in on the group, they were discussing A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke (4), a novel about life in Paris. Opinion was very mixed: one reader said it gave a true taste of life in Paris, but the sex was overdone “to the point of being boring”, whilst another said that if the sex had been omitted then it wouldn’t have been true to character. Another said that this was very typical of the Parisian way of life, whilst someone said it reminded them of ” ‘Allo, ‘Allo “. I thought the best comment from one lady was that she thought it would be an ideal book to take on holiday and perhaps leave behind! 

The Selston Reading Group is a very friendly informal gathering. Every month they all take home the same book and return a month later to talk about what they thought of the book refreshed by tea and biscuits prepared by Rosemary Smith, the senior library assistant.  The group decides on its programme of reading for up to a year ahead and Rosemary makes sure that there are enough copies of each of the chosen titles on hand at the right time. A really nice way to spend an hour on a Thursday afternoon. My thanks to the group and to Rosemary for allowing me to sit in on their discussions.

Shiver me timbers!

…. and other piratical sayings abound in this book about a rather silly bunch of pirates who are always arguing about the best bits of being a pirate, eating ham and having adventures with the most unlikely people. The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe (1) was written by the author to impress his girlfriend. We’re not told if it did the trick, but I’m sure it must have made her chuckle. It’s all about the Pirate Captain and his rag tag crew, who will cheerfully make some of the less popular members of the crew walk the plank in shark infested waters, but who love their home comforts. They encounter Charles Darwin in the Galapagos Islands, sink his ship and help him rescue his brother from the clutches of the Bishop of Oxford. If you read this book, don’t worry about historical accuracy (or even geographical accuracy for that matter), but be prepared for lots of daft piratical stuff. It’s the first of a series; I’ve enjoyed three of them now and I’m looking forward to the next one: The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon (2). By the way, Mr Defoe has his own blog called “Important things I am doing”

for local history fans

I love books about the history of the North Notts and Derbyshire areas and I already have quite a collection myself. Recently a new book about the history of the Ripley (Derbyshire) area caught my eye and I requested it from the library. Grandma’s Pudding and other stories of a Ripley miner is by Keith Staley (3). I have to say that I was a little disappointed. It is a mixture of short episodes in the author’s life, boyhood escapades, stories about his work and workmates and about romance and marriage. These are interspersed with some poems which aren’t bad as poems go, but I’m not really a poetry fan, so this put me off. There are lots of photos, some from times gone by and some to show how things have changed today, but please can we have better, more informative captions?  Having said all that, if you have connections with the mining industry or your relatives were miners or you come from the Ripley area, then this might be for you.

And finally..

Did you hear the interview on BBC Radio 4 the other day about the value of book blogs ? The two interviewees didn’t have anything very contentious to say about them, but I was interested in the fact that one of them had a book blog of his own – click here for the home page . Don’t be fooled by the title – it’s for the more academic reader as far as I can see.

By the way, I did promise something about Jacqueline Wilson and a weather book this time, but I’m afraid they will have to wait until next time.

(1) The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. Weidenfeld & Nicolson £7.99 0297848852 (apparently no longer in print, but in stock Nottinghamshire Libraries)

  • (2) The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon Defoe  Weidenfeld & Nicolson  £7.99  9780297851080   to be published in May
  • (3) Grandma’s Pudding by Keith Staley. Tempus Publishing Ltd £9.99 9780752444833
  • (4) A year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke. Black Swan £6.99 9780552772969
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