Friday, February 24, 2006

Welcome to our club!

The Bermuda Island Readers Book Club was started in 2005. The goal of the members was to create an environment where books on history, politics, sociology, religion, current events and other cerebral topics could be read and discussed with like-minded people. While we mainly read works of non-fiction, classic fiction from outstanding authors is also frequently read and discussed.
Books are democratically selected with a view towards delivering us from our 'comfort zones' and presenting a book we might otherwise have overlooked. Our meetings last about two hours and generally offer far-ranging conversation not only on the current book but on a variety of related topics. The 'Page Turner/Page Burner' portion of our meetings attempts to steer other members towards, or away from, books that we are personally familiar with.
If you are reading this and not a 'member' we invite you to contact us and join in. Our meetings are flexible and sociable, with a reasonable cross-section of our community currently represented. Don't live in Bermuda? Not a problem for us - feel free to read the book and electronically offer your thoughts and opinions.
Please enjoy this site and its resources. Should you have a question or suggestion please feel free to contact us at mfp@therock.bm.
Happy Reading.

Minutes 1/10/06


BOOK CLUB MEETING: Tuesday, January 10th, 2006
PRESENT: Amin Smith, Ruth Flannery, Craig Harris, Willow Pearce

The meeting began at 6:10PM and was held in the meeting room at the Bermuda College library. The book under discussion was ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, by D.H. Lawrence
An initial comment made by Ruth was that she didn’t like any of the characters. She held that there was, in fact, little about them that was likeable. The other members were generally in agreement with this view. Chatterley was seen as rather pompous, arrogant and bittered by his handicap. Mellor’s was viewed as a rather typical, unemotional man, more interested in his sexual pleasure perhaps than anything else. Ruth saw Connie, as being too intelligent for her husband. While the other members agreed she was educated it was difficult to suggest she was too intelligent for her husband. In retrospect it was felt perhaps she deserved him.
There was agreement, however, that both Connie and her sister’s education and upbringing were atypical for women of the era.
There was some discussion on Connie’s interaction with her husband’s friends. Willow believed her relationship with them, being seen but largely unheard, was typical of the time. Ruth questioned why she had no female friends?
"Lady Chatterley" was published in 1928 and faced legendary censorship. There was much discussion on how the book came to be published at all and what form the censorship at that time took. Comparing it to Lawrence’s other books, which those who were familiar with them believed to be better than this one, it was thought that ‘Lady Chatterley’ probably enjoyed its higher profile today thanks largely to the sexual theme and its lengthy period of censorship.
Craig questioned whether Lawrence had understood the attention his theme and choice of words would garner and the publicity and sales this would ultimately generate, while he was writing the book. The other club members did not share this view, believing Lawrence to be more influenced by his desire to write a great novel than to be well remunerated and famous.
Although this book was now over 75 years old it was felt that the themes were still relevant today – loneliness, misery, infidelity and bad marriages.
Lastly, just how this book would have been received by society at the time was reviewed. Would it be a titillating thrill? A book to be hidden and ashamed of? Was it more a woman’s book rather than a book to be enjoyed by both sexes?
In the ‘Page Turner/Page Burner’ segment of the meeting Amin reiterated his endorsement of books like 'Freakonomics’, ‘Bullshit’ and ‘The Millionaire Next Door’. Craig suggested Tanizaki’s ‘The Key’, a book which examined another unfulfilling marriage. Interestingly, this book had been compared to ‘Lady Chatterley’.
The next meeting was set for February 21st. Ruth agreed to select the next book to be read.
The meeting concluded at 7:45PM

Minutes 10/18/05


BOOK CLUB MEETING: Tuesday, October 18th, 2005
PRESENT: Amin Smith, Willow Pearce, Craig Harris
* The meeting was held at Willow’s home and began at 6:30PM with all current members present. Two new members had been anticipated but, again, neither could attend. It was therefore decided that a renewed effort be made to attract several new members. Craig was to recirculate the amended flyer for this purpose.
* As it was his turn next, Willow was nominated to select the next book. (N.B. Willow was unable to select a book and Amin assumed this responsibility.)
Our last selection, "Charlotte & Lionel" by Stanley Weintraub, was next for discussion.
All the members enjoyed this book about the Charlotte & Lionel Rothschild and the Rothschild family. As the central theme was a marriage between two cousins there was much debate over inter-marriage and health of the offspring. Here it was also questioned whether or not the central characters were truly in love or just in an arranged marriage? As there was no mention of romance it was accepted that the two were probably better friends than star-struck lovers.
Once again, the book’s subject matter led to a conversation on racism during the Victorian times. In this case we wondered what it was like to be a Jew, or, in this case – a very wealthy Jew? As this book was written by a Jew, it was noted that there was little mention of the true nature of prejudice against Rothschild and Jews in general. The book seemed to omit the ‘uglier’ side to this issue even though racism was a frequent them in the book vis-à-vis Lionel’s attempts to gain a seat in Parliament.
We also wondered about possessing such great wealth. Although Lionel was one of the richest men in the world we felt that he had no real friends. He was however a kind and generous man and did enjoy the respect of others.
We compared Charlotte to Pushkin’s wife in the last book we read. It was agreed that in comparison Charlotte was very level-headed. However, the couple did not seem to share the same passion as Pushkin did with his wife and this may explain her calming effect on his life.
There was finally some discussion on the modern Rothschild family and their business empire. There was a desire to research them and learn more.
There were two submissions to our ‘Page Turner/Page Burner’ segment. Craig presented a book on the Pennsylvania Underground Railroad. Reading more like a travel road map it was deemed a book to avoid. Amin brought ‘Freakonomics’ which was highlighted at the last meeting. He said that this look at the social effects of economic issues was a fascinating read and he recommended it. Additionally, he also brought ‘Bullshit’ which he said was also an interesting short book.
The next meeting was set for November 22nd at a location to be decided.

Minutes 9/18/05


Book Club Meeting – Sunday, September 18th, 2005
Present: Amin Smith, Willow Pearce, Craig Harris

The meeting was held at Craig’s house and began at 6pm.
The opportunity to see several new members join the club was discussed and it was agreed we would make it as easy as possible for them to attend the next meeting(s) by being flexible with date and time. Therefore the next meeting was scheduled for October but the exact date was left flexible. The most convenient date for all was to be found. Craig was to contact new members.
Our last selection, ‘Pushkin by Binyon, was the debated. All agreed they enjoyed this book although Willow advised he had read better books based on this poet. All were in unison that this version was a bit long however its thoroughness left us feeling that we knew the figure fairly well. This was especially important to Amin and Craig who knew little about him prior to reading this book.
Racism in Russia during the 19th Century was questioned. It was felt there must have been evidence of it at the time although the book did not mention it. Also, Pushkin’s love life was questioned and we attempted to ‘read between the lines’. It was finally decided he was more unlucky than lucky in love. There was even more discussion on the art of dueling which lead to wider debate on who would actually engage in this activity and why?
As a comparison to this biography there was considerable reference to ‘War and Peace’, which is set during Pushkin’s lifetime. It was suggested that in the future another book on Russia during this period would be enjoyable.
We next took an opportunity to share other books we were currently reading. Craig offered a book on the Argentine fight for the Malvinas, Amin suggested ‘Bullshit’, a current bestseller, and Willow offered ‘Dr. Johnson’s London’.
This lead to a general conversation on what people today are reading and lead to a scorching indictment of Oprah.
Before concluding it was agreed that Craig would source the next book.
The meeting ended at 8PM.

Minutes 7/20/05

Book Club Meeting – Wednesday, July 20th, 2005
Present: Amin Smith, Georgina Bowen, Willow Smith, Craig Harris
The meeting began at approximately 6PM at the Paraquet Restaurant.
Procurement of suitable books, in sufficient numbers, was seen to be the club’s initial priority. Suggested methods of procuring selected titles included ordering via online book purveyors such as Amazon, ordering directly through the local bookstores, having members bring sufficient copies back from overseas trips and simply choosing from what is available locally ‘off the shelf’. For our first selection Amin volunteered to scour local bookshops for a suitable title, reserve four copies and alert the other members via email.
It was agreed that all members should have input into the selection of titles to be read by the club. The most sensible suggestion was that each member brings one or two possible titles to the next meeting and that they be discussed and voted on. All members agreed that the opportunity to read books they would otherwise overlook was an advantage of being in a book club. However, it was also generally agreed that titles should not be so arcane as to discourage interest and participation by any member or member. Another suggestion was that each member be responsible, in turn, for the selections. Again, any potential selection will be largely governed by our ability to actually procure the book in a timely fashion.
Future venues for the meetings were also discussed. There was general agreement that meetings could be held at member’s homes or in public venues. It was decided that the next meeting was to be held at the Frog & Onion Pub, Dockyard, on Wednesday, August 17th, 2005.
As to the frequency of meetings and the exact dates a certain amount of flexibility was suggested. It was agreed that if any member was unable to keep to the arranged meeting date that they would endeavour to advise the other members at the soonest opportunity so that another mutually agreeable date could be arranged. For now it was decided to hold the next, and possibly future, meeting(s) roughly every four weeks.
The first meeting of the book club ended at approximately 9PM.

Our next meeting ........




The next meeting was set for November 20th when we will discuss ‘Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton’ by Edward Rice.

WHEN: TBA
WHERE: The home of Willow Pearce
TIME: TBA



Previous books read include:
‘Alexander II’ by Edvard Radzinsky
‘East of Eden’ by John Steinbeck
‘Charlotte & Lionel’ by Stanley Weintraub,
‘War Talk’ by Arundhati Roy
‘A Woman in Berlin’ by Anonymous

For information please call 238-1733 or mfp@therock.bm

All are welcome