This is a blog about me and the things that make me laugh, smile, hurt or cry!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Lusaka Book Club

I am starting off the year by writing about two things I am very passionate about, reading and talking. That's the book club and the discussion group. Both are very close to my heart, but the book club is my first born child and very dear to me.

I have always loved to read. Fortunately for me, I had the privilege of going to Sakeji School from grades one to five, which ensured that I not only had access to an abundance of quality children's literature, but I was also encouraged to read age appropriate books and submit a book report at the end of the week. My parents also love the written word and I am forever grateful that they invested in reading material for their children from the time I was born. This means that books are highly respected in our family. You will not find torn or defaced titles lying idly on the floor or propping up a table leg in my parents home, in my home or my sister's home. My brothers are yet to live independently, but I am certain it will be the same in their homes too.

I started the book club in 2005 by placing an advert in The Lowdown. It began life as the Jane Austen book club, since I am a great fan of hers. Coincidentally, around about the same time a book entitled, The Jane Austen Book Club was also released. Many people thought that this was where the idea came from, but they don't know that book clubs have been around for decades, if not longer.

Since Jane Austen only wrote six books, we soon moved on to other titles mainly classics. However, over the years we found our feet and began to read more contemporary titles. Over the last two years, I have been privileged to read books by authors I would not otherwise have come across.

The book club is made up of primarily women. We got our first guy in 2009, he left after a few months for further studies abroad, then in mid 2010, we received three new members (one guy and our first married to each other couple). It has been great to have a male perspective in many of our discussions.

Most of the members are Zambian, but we have a considerable number of expatriates too. This has been great learning and exposure, especially as the books we read are set in many different countries and cultures and written by men and women of differing ages and backgrounds in widely different generations or centuries.

Over the years, the best discussions have been on the following books:

  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Fiela's Child by Dalene Mathee
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

It is not surprising that most of these are books by African authors set in Africa. One is by an Indian author set in India; another by an Australian author (of German/Austrian descent) set in Nazi Germany; while the last book is a classic of 19th century English literature.

We have 12 titles chosen for 2011. On account of alphabetical order, my choice will be the last title we read in 2011. It is a book entitled, We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I chose it because I think it will be a great discussion and the subject matter is possibly every woman's nightmare. We Need to Talk About Kevin is about a fictional school massacre and is written from the perspective of the killer's mother, Eva Khatchadourian, and documents her attempt to come to terms with her son Kevin and the murders he committed.

You can join the Lusaka Book Club group on Facebook.

Membership is open to anyone who loves to read great books. The Lusaka Book Club only reads literary fiction. This means we do not read books by authors such as Dan Brown, John Grisham, Jackie Collins, Robert Ludlum, Sydney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts etc. This also means that we do not read motivational or business books, neither do we read poetry, plays or biographies, unless by consensus of members. For more information, check the group's Facebook page or email: lusakabookclub[at]gmail[dot]com.

The books and authors that we read in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 are as follows:

In 2009 we read:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga 
Children of the Revolution by Dinaw Mengestu 
The Book Thief by Markus Zukas 
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe 
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
Body Surfing by Anita Shreve
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

In 2010 we read:
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon 
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Fiela's Child by Dalene Matthee

In 2011 we read:
The Concubine by Elechi Amadi
Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams
The River Between by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Spud by John van de Ruit
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

In 2012 we read:
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Mornings In Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Patchwork by Ellen Banda-Aaku
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
Wild Meat And The Bully Burgers by Lois Ann Yamanaka
Bombay's Republic by Rotimi Babatunde (a short story)

In 2013 we read:
Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
A Heart So White by Javier Marias
In Lucia’s Eyes by Arthur Japin
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Glass Palace by Amitav Gosh
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Scent of Rain and Lightening by Nancy Pickard
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin
Blindness by Jose Saramago

In 2014 we read:
Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Aesop’s Fables translated by George Fyler Townsend
Gem Squash Tokoloshe by Rachel Zadok
The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
Yellow Birds by Kevin Power

The Books selected for 2015 are:
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Devil That Danced on the Water: A daughter’s quest by Aminatta Forna
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin D. Yalom
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller 
Get a Life by Nadine Gordimer
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
Wonder by RJ Palacio


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