Book groups are the perfect way to not only meet new people, but to also knuckle down and read in a more varied and exciting way. Starting from the end of February, Tūranga is going to be offering two brand new book groups just for all of those non-fiction buffs out there. To those who eschew the novel, or wish to bring a little more non-fiction in their lives, these are definitely the groups for you.
The first is a Non-fiction book discussion group, in which members all read and share their experience of a particular title, (provided by Book Discussion Scheme), on the first Wednesday afternoon of each month (bookings required, and there is a small cost per book).
The other is a Dewey book group in which members read a title from a particular area of the dewey sequence on the last Wednesday of each month. Starting with the 000s where subjects range from (very fittingly) books about books to computing, and UFOs, the group will follow the year and their reading right through to the 900s where travel and history reside. Members can take their pick of what they choose to read and share with the group, but for those who love a theme, books about books will be the theme of session one, as we learn what members usually love to read, and what they wish to read throughout this year.
If the idea of essentially reading something from every area of human knowledge sounds a little bit daunting, here are some picks to get you thinking about what you could read, what you have (reasurringly) already read, and what exciting reads are still waiting out there for you.
While this area is packed with important looking computing books, and some great conspiracy theories, my pick for this area has to be one of its books about books, 'Bibliophile'. Beautifully presented and written, this book reminds readers of the importance of books in our lives and of the literary adventures that await us.
The 100s is the area to go to for anyone wishing tackle philosophy, ethics and psychology. A book that seems to perfectly embody all of these topics, would have to be Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life. Peterson masterfully interweaves religion, psychology, literature, science, philosophy, and even lobsters to produce this sound and inspiring guide to life.
You don't have to be of a spiritual bent to appreciate some of the titles available in the 200s, the area of theology and religion. A great pick from this area is AN Wilson’s book on Saint Paul, a thought provoking read which tries to capture the thoughts and feelings of the man, in all his strength and vunelrability. Paul is a fascinating and moving tribute to the man who in Wilson’s view was the true inventor of Christianity.
The 300s has such a variety of topics on offer - from politics, economics, education, and law; to military history, true crime, and folklore - the reading possibilities are seemingly endless. A pick from me for this area is a current read - the Suspicions of Mr Whicher. This enthralling and informative book delves into the case of three year-old Saville Kent, and the investigation into his death led by detective Whicher, then discredited and now vindicated. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher reads like a Victorian thriller, a true story told with Holmesian pace and insight.
For those wishing to learn another language, or trying to get their head around the terrifying rules of grammar, the 400s is the place to go. Languages can be fun though (I am not saying this at gun point), and a perfect example of this is Harry Mounts 'Amo, Amas, Amat and All That'. This entertaining read pulls out all the tricks to make a very tricky topic fun, (from Monty Python Latin tips to famous Latin names such as Humphreius Bogartus), while making us aware of the continuing importance and use of this beautiful language today.
The 500s is the learned area of science, maths, and nature. If this sounds formidable to you, fear no more as this area is also home to some fantastic recreational non-fiction such as Gerald Durrell's ‘My Family and Other Animals’. In this hilarious memoir of the Durrell’s years in Corfu, Gerald captures the endearing eccentricities of his family as well his day to day life as a young boy surrounded by a fascinating menagerie of animals and fauna.
There are so many gems to be found in the 600s, including books on health, animals, business, sewing, cooking, home improvement, and parenting, but a real stand out book for me within this area is Nigella Lawsons 'How to Eat'. This book taught me not only how to cook, but how to make food exciting, comforting, celebratory, and essentially fitting for every mood and occasion in life.
The 700s is home to the arts and recreation - from architecture, painting, and music; to crafts, sports and games. As a lover of beautiful, luscious art books, my pick in this area has to be Taschen's exceedingly beautiful and luscious book of Renoir. With informative texts and the crème de la creme of Renoir's oeuvre captured within its pages, this book is truly a masterpiece.
The 800s has enough exceptional reading material to last a lifetime with poetry, plays, and all manner of literary nuggets. Hard as it is to have a pick in this area, with the Bard and generations of poets and playwrights to choose from, my pick would have to be a volume of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s beautiful poetry. From 'The Lady of Shalott' to 'Idylls of the King', each poem in this collection is word perfect, confirming Tennyson's status as one of the finest poets of the Victorian era.
The 900s is the area of escapism with travel, geography, and history all dwelling in its shelves. One of my picks from this area would have to be Adam Zamoyskis ‘Phantom Terror’. There is just nothing not to love about Zamoyski, a historian who always manages to keep his narratives gripping, informative, and fair. This time Zamoyski looks at one of the most integral and troubled moments in European history - the post-revolutionary years - and the fascinating figures, from to Tsar Alexander to Mary Shelley, who influenced them.