It's four and a half years since the Skills Exchange Book Group started, and in that time we've made some good friendships, agreed, disagreed, drunk wine and had some great laughs!
The group generally reads from a list - for example we're currently working our way through the 2014 Man Booker shortlist, and we've also compiled our own lists from Radio 4's A Good Read, and a variety of other sources. We intersperse these lists with books recommended by group members and, as a result, have read a huge variety - including poetry and autobiography, as well as novels, which remain our usual fodder.
I can't speak for the whole group, but for me highlights have included Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - one of those stories you know by osmosis, but have you ever actually read the book? It's wonderful. Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey - the most amazing two character narrated yarn, full of vivid imagery and extraordinary stories. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which taught me so much about Biafra which I grew up hearing about on the news, but to my shame, knew nothing about (the book is so, so much better than the film). Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch which I finished, sobbing, on a plane home from Italy at least 2 years ago and still can't get out of my head!
The Book Group meets approximately every 6 weeks and we alternate hosting in our homes - there are usually about 6 of us. We manage, I think, to strike a good balance between general chat and a focus on having a really good discussion about the book - in fact, members of the group who have belonged to other book groups have commented that we manage this very well. We're not academic in our approach, but we do encourage everyone to do their best to finish the book because it makes for a much better quality discussion.
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in joining the Skills Exchange Book Group, or have any questions.