Florence’s Book Club

This month’s book club is particularly well timed for me with a ski-ing holiday looming during which I usually can’t summon up the energy to do much more than relax with a good book after a hard day on the slopes. I’m looking forward to catching up with some reading and all three of Rachel’s suggestions appeal this month – thank you Rachel!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

For part of my job I’m on a course and have to read well recommended and reviewed fiction for secondary aged pupils. This term it was The Boy in Striped Pajamas. I’d already seen the film, but remembered very little about it. It explores friendship between two boys during World War II, one in a concentration camp and one on the other side, telling the truth about what friendship means. It is in some ways a simple book, but reminded me never to forget the horrors of World War II and the concentration camps and has challenged me to read more fiction, or non-fiction, about world events so I don’t forget how fortunate I am.

Alys, Always by Harriet Lane

As a great friend would say ‘ the best thing about being in a book club is reading books you wouldn’t usually read, and the worst thing about being in a book club is reading books you wouldn’t normally read.’ I decided to broaden my reading a little for this month and read a book I wouldn’t normally choose. Set in modern affluent London, it tells the story of a creative woman subtly, but in a calculated way, and all through a chance encounter, manoeuvring her way into a family’s life. A good read that isn’t hard, but with a good story that gripped me in a slightly ‘peep through fingers, Joey in Friends put the book in the freezer’ way, but then I am a wimp. The book also tackles are bigger thoughts about who we are, identity and how others treat us, but I don’t want to give too much away.

‘…and I think, We’re all pretending. The room is full of constructs and inventions. People are experimenting, trying out lines… I watch the way they draw closer to and turn away from each other. I hear the things that they say and the things that they leave unsaid.’

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I like to keep an eye on the winners of the major literary prizes and this book won the Orange Prize in 2012. I should start by saying I have a bit of a soft spot for the ancient Greeks. This story is of Achilles but told from the perspective of his friend, confidante and lover Patroclus, from when they meet as boys to them going into battle to fight the Trojan War for Helen of Troy. There are lots of ancient references to Gods and ancient families but you don’t need to know anything about them to enjoy the story. My thoughts on finishing were that I’d read a lovely, and very unusual love story. It has made me want to re-read The Iliad but only when I have the luxury of lazing on a sandy beach in Greece.

What are you reading this month?


PS you can read more from Rachel at her blog Flowers and Stripes, or find her on Twitter @MrsHunterDunn.

Found: What should I read next?

As I’m on holiday, it seemed an apt time to share a website I found recently called What Should I Read Next? One of the things that gets chief importance on my holiday packing list is planning my reading material. I have a fear of being stuck with nothing to do on holiday and so you can see that Florence’s bookclub was not an entirely self-less series idea 😉 – I love that it provides new ideas for my reading list and sometimes things I wouldn’t have normally tried.

So when I found What Should I Read Next? I was intrigued. Put in your favourite book or a recent read that your enjoyed and it gives you 20 similar books that you should enjoy.

I tested the theory with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – one of my favourite books. Inevitably, some of the listed titles I had already read, Birdsong for example. Interestingly though, it did throw up some of those ‘I’ve been meaning to read that,’ books and I thought it was worth sharing.

Head on over this morning, plug in your favourite and let me know in the comments box what it came up with, or if any on my suggested reading list are particularly good! 🙂


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