Well, it is a fortnight since I last wrote and you were all so enthusiastic about the new book group, so first of all thank you for such positive comments and my apologies for not coming back sooner to tell you how it went. I do have a legitimate excuse for my tardiness, having been in and out of two different hospitals three times in the intervening period. These have been my first hospital visits since I moved and so a whole new set of medics have had to get used to the idiosyncrasies of my body. I spent last Sunday reassuring the nurse who was monitoring my vitals that if you were me a pulse of 53 was perfectly normal and the following day engaging in a round of that ever popular parlour game, Hunt the Kidney, with a radiographer who needed a lot of reassuring that if she looked round the back and under the rib cage she would eventually find my left one. As Joe Gargery would have said, ‘What larks!’.
But, back to the book group. I wasn’t certain how many would turn up and was only definitely expecting three but in the event nine people arrived. As I think we can only really accommodate twelve in the time that we have and as I have already had at least one more enquiry there is a possibility that the group may very soon be oversubscribed. It seems that there are a good number of people who are very keen to talk about books but who don’t want the discipline of having to read a specific text each month. I think I can stretch to a membership of fifteen because not everyone will come every time, but if it rises above that then I shall look to start a second group, because apart from the actual meeting time it wouldn’t demand anything else in the way of preparation and commitment. For the most part people had brought what I might label ‘safe’ books to talk about, books that they were happy to be seen reading, but I got them to talk more generally about what they liked to read, admitting to reading a good number of crime novels, fantasy works and some children’s fiction myself and I think we will probably have a truer sense of what they each enjoy next time round. Inevitably, given my teaching background, I have already begun to pick up on a couple of people who will need to be ‘encouraged’ to be more aware of group dynamics. There is the one (there is always one!) who is ‘right’ about a book and won’t brook any opposition and the one who wants to take more than her fair share of the time. The latter is easier to work with than the former, but it is more important to keep an eye on the first of those two because someone like that can discourage less confident members from voicing their opinions or even from coming at all.
Because of the way the dates fall, our next meeting isn’t for another three weeks. It will be interesting to see if anyone has read something as a result of hearing about it at the last gathering. I did have an email the following day from someone who had attended and then gone out and bought the new Shardlake novel, Tombland, first thing the next morning because she couldn’t wait for the library copy to be available. I take that as a success, although I’m not sure how the library would feel about it.