Find out about our upcoming books and remind yourself of some of the things we learned in book club. Not sure what to read? How about getting some inspiration from this article recommending 15 short novels only one of which we've read so far.
We're moving from rural Ireland to urban USA for the next book club. We'll read Heartburn by Nora Ephron which has just been re-released in a 40th anniversary edition. I won't say too much about it for those of you who don't want any spoilers.
Can you remember what you learned tonight? Here's a quick reminder
idioms with worms
male and female animal names such as ewe and ram
For our March book club we'll be reading Small Things like These by Clare Keegan. The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and is set in Ireland in the 1980s.
In tonight's session on Vesper Flights we agreed that the vocabulary in the book was overly challenging but that the author had important messages worth sharing. If you haven't managed to read the whole book (nobody did), we recommend at least reading the following essays.
In Spight of Prisons (I'm not sure why it's spelled this way, rather than 'spite')
What Animals Taught Me
If you would like to know what 'murmuration' means, you can listen to this Word of Mouth podcast. And finally, if you want to know how trees secretly talk to each other, this very short video is perfect - I can highly recommend it.
16 January 2023
We're going to start the new year by reading about the natural world. Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald is a collection of essays about a range of subjects. Like our previous book, the essays are about love and loss.
Based on this review from The Guardian, the books come with a short manifesto which we'll be able to discuss when we meet. Here it is:
“To understand that your way of looking at the world is not the only one.
To think what it might mean to love those that are not like you.
To rejoice in the complexity of things.”
Here is quick summary of what we discussed in the Dorothy Gallagher book club
using the I form in journalism - is it egotistical/ irritating when author's do this?
polar bear (not an ice bear)
the desire (rather than the wish)
don't seek perfection
passages and preface (pronunciation)
7 November 2022
For the final book club of the year, we'll talk about 'Stories I forgot to tell you' by Dorothy Gallagher a short book about "irredeemable loss and unending love" (goodreads).
Mrs Caliban proved to be a great choice as almost everyone enjoyed it (or at least parts of it) and we were able to discuss it all evening. Personally I found the ending so intriguing that I had to re-read the book almost straight away and will almost certainly read it again.
In terms of language, we discussed verb patterns, paying attention to the verbs 'explain', 'avoid' and 'make'. The feedback session also covered:
dependence (noun) rather than dependency
people not persons
look out for yourself/ look after yourself/ look for yourself
Finally, I recommended buying a dictionary app for your phone such as the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
5 September 2022
At our next book club we'll be talking about B-movies and horror stories after reading the novella Mrs Caliban by Rachel Ingalls which is a 'quirky tale of middle-aged angst' (Goodreads). As I mentioned last night, Caliban is one of the central characters of Shakespeare's The Tempest - a play concerning the theme of nature vs nurture. Are people born bad or do they become bad because of their upbringing? Anyone wanting to read more horror should perhaps try Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a short novel written in Lake Geneva during an unusually rainy summer.
In terms of language from last night, we briefly talked about the following:
nothing fazes her
she hasn't experienced any real hardship
impressive (not impressing)
4 July 2022 2022
For our book in July we will read Bernardine Evaristo's Booker prize-winning novel Girl, woman, other. Almost 500 pages long, you'll probably need to start reading it very soon!
Following last night's discussion about A Life's Work I thought I'd draw your attention to this article from The Guardian which I used in one of my conversation classes. The male author favourably compares motherhood memoirs to those produced by fathers and provides a long list of other books to read on the topic, including the seminal work by Adrienne Rich, Of woman born. As I mentioned last night, it's available at the Zentral Bibliothek.
In terms of language from last night, we briefly talked about the difference between bring and take, learned some vocabulary and did a word transformation exercise.
Here's a quick reminder of some of the words that cropped up:
going into labour
express milk with a breast pump
withered/ wilted leaves
trainers (UK)/ sneakers (US)
remind/ remember (it reminded me...)
volition - similar in meaning to the noun will for example 'I did it of my own volition'
Finally, speaking of imagine... Katrin recommended the Yoko Ono exhibition at the Kunsthaus.
2 May 2022
We've decided to return to a novel rather than short stories albeit an autobiographical one.
We'll be reading A Life's Work: On Becoming A Mother by Rachel Cusk for the book club in May. The book is a brutally honest account of pregnancy, childbirth and the early months of motherhood. It's an interesting read with some fabulous yet challenging vocabulary and novel metaphors.
Should you need some help with the author's choice of words, you can check out the set I've created on Quizlet. I'm certain that it won't contain all the words you don't 'know' but it's a start.
See you on 2nd May, hopefully in person at the book shop.
7 March 2022
We'll be meeting again on Monday 7th March to discuss Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins. Hopefully by then nobody will be in quarantine or isolation, we won't have to wear masks and life will be the way it used to be. I guess that I'm just dreaming. Anyway, back to the book, it's another collection of short stories so there's no pressure to read them all. Hopefully we'll all enjoy the stories and will have lots to discuss when we meet. Otherwise, I will inflict some more grammar on you! See you all in March, hopefully in person again
10 January 2022
I'm back at home after another stimulating book club where we discussed how memories are formed and retained, and the importance of family. We were all shocked by Lemn Sissay's story of abandonment and intrigued about what happened next. I came home and watched the TED talk mentioned at the end of the book to see if I could find out more. It encapsulates the key elements of the book in just 15 minutes but gives only a slight hint about the author's life beyond the first 18 years. Probably the TV documentary, Imagine, will shed more light on the subject and hopefully it will be repeated so I'll be able to watch it. If anyone wants to read some other books about adoption and or losing family then I can recommend Jeanette Winterson's 'Why by happy when you could be normal?', the film 'Philomena' starring Judi Dench, or 'Educated' by Tara Westover. For our next book we decided to read a short story collection by A.L. Kennedy entitled 'We are attempting to Survive Our Time'. As it's short stories there is no pressure to read the whole book. We'll meet in the new year on Monday 10th January at the usual time of 7.30pm to discuss some of the stories. If you are reading 'Inappropriate Staring' and want to know what a chough is, you can find out here.
Have a great Christmas everyone and see you in the new year! Click here to find the dates for the book club and here if you want to read some of my recent blog posts about cycling and hiking in Switzerland. Finally, during class I mentioned how useful the Skell website is when finding out about words (what they mean and how to use them). You can read more about it by clicking on this blog post. Would you like to maintain and improve your advanced English skills by taking part in the book club? Send a message via the contact form on the home page if you would like to join us.