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Books and Bookclubs

Clare Champion, Friday, 9th May 2008


The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
Published by Penguin Books in 2005
This novel opens on a winter’s night in 1964, when a blizzard forces Dr David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, first born, is perfectly healthy but the doctor immediately recognises that his daughter has Down’s syndrome. He makes a split second decision that will change their lives forever. Telling his wife that the baby has died, he asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution. However, she disappears to raise the child as her own. A haunting tale of love, loss and secrets that last a lifetime.

One you may have missed

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
Published by Cape in 1987
Sherman McCoy is a Wall Street man with an annual salary close to a million dollars, a wife and a mistress. His luxury life comes apart after an accident that leaves a young black man in a coma. A scathing social commentary, the book attacks snobberies, arrogance, greed and ambition and presents a humorous portrayal of 1980s New York City.


Grow It Eat It
Published by Dorling Kindersley, 2008
Grow It Eat It is a beautiful gardening and cookery book combined. Find out how to cook your own food, grow your own ingredients and enjoy your own delicious recipes in this beautiful presentation of simple gardening projects and delicious recipes.
It champions the delight to be experienced from growing your own fruits and vegetables. And what better way to celebrate their growth than through sharing your harvest with others, by cooking simple, tasty recipes.

Each chapter is made up of just two pages of concise instruction and fantastic illustrations, explaining everything the young gardener, or would be chef, needs to know. Learn how to select the best pots and plots, grow the ingredients necessary to present your own rainbow salad, or make your own carrot and orange muffins.

Tiger Lily: A Heroine in the Making by Maeve Friel
Published by Stripes Publishing, 2007
Tiger Lily will never make her name as an adventurous heroine in her quiet village, appropriately named, The Middle of Nowhere. To make matters worse, she doesn’t even have a ‘trusty devoted companion.’ Neither does she have her own transport. But inspired by her insatiable appetite for books, Tiger Lily is not to be defeated. She makes a raft, assigns her friend Sammy to be her right hand man and the adventures begin…

Competent young readers aged eight and over will love this book. Its unique presentation including printed email messages, diary extracts and book reports by Tiger Lily will tempt the reluctant reader also.

Why not visit The Middle of Nowhere, home of Tiger Lily at where you can download word searches, book reports and read extracts from other books by Maeve Friel.


Mothers turn to 'chick-lit'
A Bookseller and survey found that sixty per cent of new mothers admitted they read a lot less than they did before having children and that when they did read, they preferred celebrity autobiographies or chick-lit or "anything that doesn't take much effort".
Doctors have coined the term "maternal amnesia" to describe an apparent decline in memory and brainpower after women become pregnant. More commonly known as "mumnesia" or "nappy brain", research increasingly suggests it is only short-term and probably due to sleep deprivation. So don’t worry, you’ll be back to your literary epics in no time!

The Saga of Darren Shan hits the big screen
Death's Shadow, Book 8 of The Demonata series by best-selling author Darren Shan has gone straight to number 1 in the children's book charts in the UK and Ireland.

His millions of devoted fans will also be pleased to know that the first three books in The Saga of Darren Shan known as the Vampire Blood Trilogy will soon be produced for the big screen by Universal Pictures. The film will be called Cirque du Freak.

Misery Literature is big business
Misery Lit or ‘mis lit’ is a type of memoir that tells of the author’s miserable childhood due to poverty, physical or sexual abuse and usually describes the author’s triumph over these personal traumas. These types of books have been dominating the bestseller list over the last few years as there seems to be an insatiable appetite among readers for such writings. Waterstones now have a ‘Painful Lives’ section in its bookshops although it is through the supermarkets that the majority of these books are sold. Most critics trace the beginning of the genre to A Child Called It, a 1995 memoir by American Dave Pelzer, in which he details the outrageous abuse he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic mother. This was followed in 1996 by Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes - an account of his poverty sticken upbringing in Limerick which became an international bestseller. Other popular authors in this genre are Jenny Tomlin and Torey Hayden.

But there are signs of a growing backlash against Misery Lit as some recent memoirs have been exposed as fakes. The veracity of Kathy O'Beirne's Kathy's Story, which sold half a million copies and told of her wretched life at the hands of an abusive father, in reformatory school, in a psychiatric hospital and in the Magdalene Laundry, has been disputed by members of her family.

Regarded by some as healing and inspirational and by others as exploitational and voyeuristic, there is no disputing the popularity of these memoirs – a market that was worth over £24 million in the UK last year.


Book Clubs
For those who haven’t yet discovered them, book clubs are groups of readers who come together on a regular basis, usually monthly, to read and discuss books, with the emphasis being on reading for enjoyment. Reading is mainly a solitary activity but in a book club it becomes a shared experience and a social activity. New friendships develop and new authors are discovered. The book no longer ends on the final page. The pleasures and the traumas of each book are re-lived as views and opinions are shared and explored.

Library-based clubs usually meet in the library. Others meet in their own homes, in restaurants, in colleges, in community centres etc. As the club evolves, cinema outings, visits to plays, Christmas meals etc all become part of the book club experience.

Most clubs meet once a month and read and discuss one book per month. There are various methods of choosing a book and it varies from club to club. Size-wise, groups of between 8-10 people seem to work well. However, there is no one right way to run a book club. Each club will establish their own guidelines as they discover what suits their particular group. Some clubs are very casual, others are more formal. Some involve a glass of wine and some food, others a cup of tea and a biscuit. Each book club is different but the common factor in all is that they are a great way of sharing a love of books and of making friends along the way.

Book clubs are not a modern phenomenon and, contrary to popular belief, they were not invented by Oprah Winfrey. The first formal book club is believed to have started in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1643. Meanwhile in Britain, mill girls were reading books together before work. In more recent times, a 1960s report reveals details of a reading circle where women read aloud to each other as they caught up on their knitting and mending. Oprah, however, can be credited with the current book club phenomenon. Today, book clubs have spread worldwide and, in Ireland alone, there are several hundred in existence.

The annual Ennis Book Club Festival, in association with Clare County Library, was born out of the huge interest that exists in reading and discussing books. It has grown year on year as book clubs from all over Ireland gather in the Clare capital for a weekend full of literary activities. The 2009 event will run from 6th – 8th March.
Details will be displayed on as they become available.

The library runs bookclubs in many of its branches and new members are always welcome.
Ennis Library     065 6846353
Adult bookclub – 1st Tuesday of every month at 7pm.
Children’s bookclub – 1st Tuesday of every month at 3.15pm
Shannon Library    061 364266
Adult bookclub – One Tuesday monthly at 7pm
Children’s bookclub – 1st Wednesday of every month at 4pm
Kilrush Library    065 9051504
Adult bookclub - Last Wednesday of every month at 6.30pm
Children’s bookclub – Last Wednesday of every month at 5.30pm
Killaloe Library     061 376062
Adult bookclub – First Wednesday of every month at 6.45pm
                       – First Tuesday of every month at 11.00am
Scariff Library    061 922893
Adult bookclub - First Thursday of every month at 7.00pm
Children’s bookclub – Last Thursday of every month at 3.30pm
Kilkee Library    065 9056034
Children’s bookclub - 3rd Wednesday of each month at 6.30pm
Newmarket Library    061 368411
Adult bookclub – One Tuesday each month
Miltown Library    065 7084822
Children’s Bookclub – Every fourth Friday at 4pm

Supplied by Clare County Library

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