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
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!’
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!