BOOKS

Sup­per or snacks? Women only, or men too? Maybe even… cou­ples?! We’re find­ing out how your book clubs work. Plus, our rec­om­mended reads for a long, lazy Easter week­end, a few great TV adap­ta­tions of books we loved to look out for – and a fab­u­lous paella r

Fairlady - - CONTENTS - COM­PILED BY SUZY BROKENSHA

WHEN DID YOUR BOOK CLUB START, AND HOW OF­TEN DO YOU GET TO­GETHER?

We started 23 years ago! We meet around ev­ery six weeks, out­side school hol­i­days. Loosely Bound is what we are, in the sense that we aren’t rigid: No rules, and few for­mal­i­ties. Ac­tu­ally, there is one rule: no part­ners al­lowed. And if you’ve read and loved

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, you’re un­likely to want to join – or get in!’

WOMEN ONLY?

No – we’re three men and five women at the mo­ment, al­though peo­ple have left and oth­ers have joined over the years, so the bal­ance shifts a bit. I like it; it brings dif­fer­ent en­er­gies and in­ter­ests to­gether. I also like the mix of non-fic­tion and air­port thrillers the men some­times throw into the mix (talk­ing about you, Tony).

DO YOU ALL HAVE SIM­I­LAR TASTES IN BOOKS?

Not at all, and that’s the beauty of it – Loosely Bound has in­tro­duced me to a host of au­thors I might never

have read oth­er­wise. One mem­ber lived in Ja­pan for a while and loves Ja­panese writ­ers, an­other loves Mid-Western Amer­i­can, an­other adds Granta into the mix… and there was ob­vi­ously the pe­riod where we all read those mor­bid Irish au­thors!

DO YOU RE­VIEW THE BOOKS, OR JUST EX­CHANGE THEM?

We do re­view them in an in­for­mal sort of way, al­ways af­ter a good din­ner (read: wine). Noth­ing too lit­er­ary. Some­times we start a lit­tle late (and some of us fall asleep). These days we man­age to fin­ish be­fore mid­night, but a few years ago we would start re­view­ing books only around 11pm.

HOW DOES IT WORK: DOES THE HOST COOK, PRO­VIDE WINE AND ALL THE BOOKS, OR DO VAR­I­OUS PEO­PLE CON­TRIBUTE?

We each host once a year, and pro­vide about four new books and a meal. Some of us have pre­pared well ahead of time, oth­ers are still un­pack­ing the in­gre­di­ents as we ar­rive – then we all pitch in to help cook. There’s al­ways plenty of good wine and beer, as we all bring some­thing to drink. These days we share lifts or uber home.

THE BEST BOOK EVER?

We’d never all agree! Al­though Joe Simp­son’s Dark Shad­ows Fall­ing would be a con­tender – or The Strange Last Voy­age

of Don­ald Crowhurst by Ni­cholas To­ma­lin and Ron Hall. At one stage we did vote for the Worst Book of the Year, then threw it straight into the fire.

BEST BOOK OF 2017?

In my view, Jen­nifer Egan’s Man­hat­tan Beach, al­though Marie Kondo’s The Life-Chang­ing Magic of Tidy­ing Up is putting in a late bid.

MORE OR LESS WHAT PER­CENT­AGE OF WHAT YOU READ IS LO­CAL?

I would say about 40%. We like lo­cal! Re­cently, I’ve re­ally en­joyed Sisonke Msi­mang’s Al­ways An­other

Coun­try and We Write What We Like, edited by Yolisa Qunta. Apart from all the Mike Ni­cols and Deon Mey­ers, of course.

WHICH FIVE AU­THORS WOULD YOU REC­OM­MEND?

Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Donna Tartt, Wil­liam Boyd’s early books, Haruki Mu­rakami, Jen­nifer Egan, Michel Houelle­becq… that’s al­ready seven!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? GOT A RECIPE?

My favourite was Alan’s ‘AfrikaBurn Paella’. It was a great im­prove­ment: he’s Scot­tish, and when he joined he threat­ened to ‘boil up some­thing’, which turned out to be hag­gis… let’s just say I thought his paella was su­perb!

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