We’ve given it a couple of months to get in the swing, and we are delighted (and not a little surprised as we are not natural organisers) that the Rainy City Book Club seems to be working out pretty well. This might be in part to do with extremely low requirements. The main thing you have to do is be prepared to turn up and chat books whilst managing squiggly babies and even wrigglier toddlers; drinking coffee and eating cake is pretty mandatory, reading the whole book is a bonus. If you manage to get the whole way through you probably win a prize of some sort (don’t hold me to that). The rest of it is definitely due to the smart, funny and well-read mums who turn up with great insights that really open up the whole reading process for me. P.S. dads, carers and grandparents are of course totally welcome too, we just haven’t managed to ensnare any yet, so if you know someone who answers to that description and would like to come along send them our way. Hell you don’t even have to have kids, you just need to be prepared to put up with them interrupting your fascinating exegesis with demands for flapjack (or is that just mine?).
So, now on our third book, we thought this was an ideal time give you a little update on what we’ve been reading so anyone wanting to join at this point can see if it takes their fancy. Our first book was In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Many of us were of course familiar with Judy Blume’s books for teens (and by familiar I mean knew lines off by heart) but this book for adults was slightly different to Judy’s usual fare. The main character was still a teenage girl but this time the story – revolving around three terrible disasters that took place in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950s – was told by a cast of characters that included Miri’s mother. Overall this book got the thumbs up and we enjoyed the exploration of a unusual mother-daughter relationship in the 50s.
Our next book, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, again traversed the rough terrain of mother-daughter relationships in this story of a young woman caring for her potentially deceptive mother. We found lots to admire but even more so we enjoyed giving the bits we didn’t like a good trashing. Never let it be said that book clubs are all nicey-nicey. We are bunch of Kokutanis armed with extra baby wipes! This month’s edition was slightly less focused as some of us admitted to reading our alternative choice (The Power by Naomi Alderman, which got pretty sound reviews from the mums who did step out on Hot Milk).
Finally, our next book will be My Shitty Twenties: A Memoir by Emily Morris. This memoir is based on Emily’s blog of the same name and tells the story of how Emily discovered she was pregnant at 22 and how she dealt with dropping out of university to be a single mum. I haven’t finished the book yet but so far am finding it a refreshing antidote to lots of the mum-fare that started life on the internet. It’s a much more realistic and in-depth look at motherhood, but still with plenty of humour. Emily is an honorary Manc and as well as the nods (sometimes winces) of recognition when reading about Emily’s progress through pregnancy and motherhood, it’s also fun to spot places we know and love. Here is a sample:
There was no earth mother idyll for me; I was under no delusions. I knew that giving birth was going to fucking hurt and that, statistically, given the fact that this was my first baby and my body had never done it before, the chances were it was going to take ages: not just hours but potentially days. The pain lived up to my expectations.
If you fancy a bit more you can read Emily’s work on The Pool, or listen to her on Woman’s Hour (totally starstruck!). So we are feeling more than just a little bit honoured that she will be popping into this month’s Rainy City Book Club to say hi. While we are not going to bombard her with a full-on Q&A we reckon she might let slip a few fascinating insights about writing a book, blogging, motherhood and creativity.
So if you fancy coming along to book club you are more than welcome, we are a very relaxed bunch. We have to thank everyone who has attended so far and made it such fun for us, and forgiven us our slightly disorganised moments (I did say we weren’t natural organisers); and of course give our hosts Waterstones some love. See you next time.
The Rainy City Book Club will be on Monday 21 August starting at 10.30am until nap time strikes in the events room of Waterstones Deansgate, kids welcome of course.