Posted in Books, Lifestyle, london

Top Five Reasons Why You Should Join A Book Club

In one of my many attempts to alleviate boredom and broaden my social circle, I joined the Armchair Murders Book Club at Waterstones a couple of months ago. The club meets every first Wednesday of the month at the Piccadilly branch of the well-know bookstore.

When I first started telling people about it, I got a lot of raised eyebrows and funny looks. I think some of my friends had this picture of me sitting with a bunch of old people and knitting while we talk about books. To be fair, I had the same apprehensions going into the first meeting. But I just reached a point where being on the Goodreads community wasn’t enough anymore and I just wanted to meet people who have a similar passion for books. I thought to myself that, if nothing else, I would at least get free wine out of it.

I think back to that first meeting and compared it to the one I attended on Wednesday evening and it really warms my heart to see how much the group has grown in numbers. I think we had about six people in the group when I first joined; on Wednesday there were 15 of us coming in to discuss this month’s book. Half the people in the group were my age or younger, which made for a very lively discussion. Everyone was so into it.

Anyway, if you love books and you love talking about them and analysing them down to the smallest detail, then joining a book club is one of the best things you can do. If you’re having second thoughts because you have pre-conceived notions about book clubs, STOP RIGHT THERE and allow me to tell you why joining one is awesome:

 

Free Wine

You laugh, but this is actually one of the biggest draw for some people. I mean, if you have to be bored out of your mind, its better to be bored with a glass of pinot grigio in your hand right?

(By the way, I don’t know if all book clubs offer free wine, but Waterstones certainly does)

 

Ten Percent Discount on Books of the Month

If you buy books as much as I do, every little discount helps. Of all the perks, I think this is the one I love most. The club often selects books for the next two months and I often just get both because I know they’ll be discounted anyway.

 

You read books that you don’t normally read

I have to admit that I used to be the kind of reader that stuck to certain genres or authors. I mean, I’ve always really loved murder/ mystery and crime fiction, but my choices tend to be more generic or a novel that’s made it to the bestseller’s list. Never in a million years would I have picked up a book like Black Water Lilies, which has been translated from French to English. And that would have been a shame because its now become one of my favourite books.

Because of the book club, I have literally learned not to judge a book by its cover and I’ve discovered so many more books to read. Its also broadened my taste in books in general, as in I now pick up a book because its a good story and not just because its written by an author whose work I’ve read before.

 

A New Perspective

This month’s book was If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. If you haven’t read it already, you can see my review on this book here. I raced through that book because the plot and the characters really gripped me. And you can see from my review that I was really drawn to the romantic part of it, going so far as to say that I felt like love was the overarching theme of the book.

Wednesday night’s discussion really gave me a fresh insight into the book. By listening to other people’s opinions and their own interpretation of some of the scenes, I can see my own naïveté and how my own personality and outlook in life colour the way I see things. Among the key points that I learned last night was that love is different from obsession. Love is not love if it hurts other people and that even if you think you’re doing something for someone you supposedly love, it doesn’t mean that you’re not being selfish and manipulative. I will probably never look at a romance novel in the same way again (lol).

 

Friendly Debates

Of course not everyone loved the book. There were quite a few people who had strong opinions about either the plot or the characters. But the point of the book club is that you have to read it anyway, regardless of whether you want to throw the book against the wall halfway through. I knew from the start that this was the kind of book that would polarise the group and I was right. It was very interesting to hear from both the “lovers” and the “haters” and I really enjoyed debating plot points and character development with people who were as into these things as I was.

 

New Friends

One of my friends told me once that she really envied how I could easily feel at ease with people I’ve just met. I think I’m just the kind of person who’s interested in everyone’s story. I enjoy a good gab session, I really do. So if  you put me in a situation where I meet new people AND I get to talk about books, then you’ll really see me in my element. I genuinely enjoyed the company of the people I met last night and as a result I have more Facebook and Goodreads friends this week than I had last week. Life is good.

 

I know joining a book club doesn’t really sound like a cool thing to do. But in my opinion, we already do so many things just to project a certain image to the world, we should be able to do things for ourselves or just because we love it. And that’s what being in a book club means to me. I hope all my fellow bookworms out there find a similar outlet for their passion as well.

Cheers! x

 

 

Posted in Books, Reviews, romance

Waterstones Armchair Murders Book Club Pick of the Month: If We Were Villains

Full disclosure: I skipped through the end of this book because I just could not bear not knowing what happened for a minute longer.

I picked up this book because it was selected for next month’s book club meeting. Had I known that it had been frequently compared to Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, I may have hesitated to start it because I found that book as tedious as it was – strangely -compulsively readable. I found the characters in that book so unbelievably pretentious. And, I may be the stupidest person in the world for saying this, but I just did NOT get what all the latin translations contributed to the plot advancement. I did not understand why so many people found the book life-changing but agree to disagree.

This book could not have been any more different.

The thing I love and hate most about reading a book is when you become so invested in the characters that you share in their joys, hopes, disappointments and sorrows. M.L. Rio, almost from the first 50 pages, made me care so much about her protagonist Oliver Marks that I felt a genuine sense of foreboding when he began his story.

The Synopsis

Oliver has been in jail for the past 10 years and his release coincides with the retirement of the detective who took on his case. Wanting closure, the old detective’s final request is for the truth: what really happened during that cold November night when one of Oliver’s friends wound up dead in the lake? 

They were seven friends who shared one thing in common: an all-consuming passion for acting. And not just any acting; Shakespearean acting. Throughout their four years in an exclusive school for the arts they’ve been typecasted: the hero, the villain, the star, the sidekick, the vixen. But when a teacher decided to shake things up and change the status quo, the power shifts; friendships are threatened, rivalries awakened, secrets unraveled, ultimately ending in tragedy.

Oh, The Feels

I don’t think this will be the most coherent review I’ve ever done mostly because I’m writing with my heart rather than my head. All I am after this book is a mass of feelings. Honestly.  This book is more than just a crime novel; its a coming of age story, its an ode to the great bard and most of all its an epic, passionate romance. I know this is supposed to be a thriller, but honestly its LOVE that underscores all the scenes in this book. The kind of love that makes fools of us all, the kind of love that borders on insanity.
Oliver is the kind of character who just grabs you. There is no way to describe him without giving away spoilers because to understand how things turned out the way they were, to really understand his motives, you have to look at the heart of who he is. There are things that were so blindingly obvious to me as the book unfolded that I pretty much guessed whodunit early on. I don’t know if its just me but it really wasn’t that much of a mystery. 

The Twist

I really love a good ending. And a good ending for me is one that ties up all the loose ends; I do not like ending a book with more questions and I do not like to be kept hanging. But really, if done right, ambiguous endings have this impact on readers that cannot be put into words. And this one sure did a number on me. I have read and re-read the last two pages of this book five times and I’ve even googled Shakespeare to give me some clues but I’m still left with the need to rip my hair out because I really want to know what it all means.

I know that we’re meant to form our own conclusion as to the ending but dammit ML Rio, YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME!!! 

I’m quite excited to go to book club now and discuss this with the others. I just really need someone to reaffirm my interpretation of the ending. That’s all I need, one person to tell me that the version of events unfolding in my head is not so far-fetched. It’ll be interesting to see how my fellow book club members will react to this. I have a feeling this may have a polarising effect on the group. It will sure make for an interesting discussion.

Hey bookworms in London, if you’re interested in discussing fabulous crime and mystery books, join us every first Wednesday of the month at Waterstones Piccadilly. Free wine! More details here.