A Book Club for writers and readers – our verdict on ’50 Shades of Grey’ and next month’s book ‘Slaugherhouse 5’

Posted by Justine Solomons on 4 May 2012, in News

Our book club met for the first time this Monday. There were seven of us, seven people that hadn't met before but all liked books. I'd put up ads along the high street, including a poster at Bluston's (my proudest achievement) plus Map Cafe and we at Byte the Book had blogged, Facebooked, LinkedIn and Tweeted about the event. We're hoping the numbers will grow over time.

The aim of the book clubs is to have a network of book clubs reading a book (or perhaps a few books) at the same time each month. People can discuss them locally in their own book club but also it would be good if they could do so across the web.

I also wanted people to read as readers, because I think reading is the beginning of a slippery slope into writing and if that can be encouraged, well happy days. I've actually never been to a book club before, but the first term on my novel writing course at City University was a bit like a book club.  In the very first session we were all asked to speak about the kind of books we liked, which I asked everyone to do on Monday, and it was a good way to get to know each other. Then in my college class we were given a genre a week and we're each asked to pick a book from that genre and review it for the group, that's a bit more intense so we've simplified it here, but I still intend to get us to read broadly. I absolutely loved the book club part of my course, for I really believe that all good writing comes from good reading and I wanted to bring that aspect of reading to Byte the Book’s book clubs.

I picked quite a light book for this month's session, '50 Shades of Grey'  in a genre now described by the industry as, 'Mummy Porn'. I then spent last weekend re-reading it and making notes, below are some of the questions I came up with for the group:

Does Ana have all the power?
It's quite clear what Christian looks like, but what does Ana look like?
What effect does first person present have on the narration?
What do we think about her subconscious and inner goddess?
What did you think about the emails, do they add to urgency of the book?
Can she really LOVE someone after one month?
What do we think about the names, Grey, Steele etc?
No one has even held her hand before, is that really believable?
Someone once said every book is a thriller, what's the thriller element in this book?
Why is this book so popular?
Did you enjoy this book and would you recommend it to other people?

Please feel free to comment on any of these questions above,  or if you have a book club reading these books try asking these questions in your group.

I'll focus here on our answers to the last three questions:

Someone once said every book is a thriller, what's the thriller element in this book?
It's both will she/won't she be able to tame him and also the fear and excitement that goes with all the sadomasochism.

Why is this book so popular?
Although this book is described as Mummy Porn and a completely new genre, we thought that it was quite strongly reminiscent of Mills and Boon or even Jackie Collins, the kind of book that some people in our group read a lot of their teens. We also agreed that it was very easy reading, and like Harry Potter tapped into the YA (young adult) market, the kind of book everyone is reading these days, as these books tend not to be too challenging and so can fit into our busy and demanding lives.

Did you enjoy this book and would you recommend it to other people?
Most said they did enjoy it, although with some reservations, but they said they would recommend it, which goes towards explaining why this book is so popular.

Our next session is on 28th May at Map Cafe at 46 Grafton Road, Kentish Town from 7pm. We'll be reading Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse 5'. It took Vonnegut 20 years to write it, and is his response to being part of the bombing of Dresden and has the absurdity of war as it's main theme. It's absolutely brilliant and kind of fits into the sci-fi genre but like all good books transcends it's genre.  It’s also nice and short (only 192 pages). You can buy it online here: Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut Series), or if you live locally pop into Owl Bookshop on Kentish Town Road who are offering 15% off to Book Club members.

If you are interested in coming along on 28th May please register on our events page or drop us an e-mail at: info@bytethebook.com

Finally if you are interested in setting up your own, Byte the Book, book group to read alongside ours please get in touch at: info@bytethebook.com

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