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Dear Reader

 …I tried starting a gang once, it turned into a book club…

Book clubs turn an insular hobby into a more social one. They foster camaraderie, debate and can inspire us to try new authors and genres. Reading is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Books provide adventure in an armchair and fire up the imagination. In a world of increasing electronic distractions, where serious debate is limited by twitter and expressions reduced to emojis, reading can discipline the mind to concentrate and consider new viewpoints. We should be required to read a book for every 10 selfies we take.

What makes a good book? The answers are as varied and numerous as there are books. Characters that you fall in love with and root for until the end, electrifying stories that you can’t put down or inspiration to get you through a bad patch. It depends on moods, your time of life and background. The book club has introduced me to writers I had never even heard of, which I have enjoyed immensely, and introduced me to a whole range of useful topics like free libraries, which now also serve as the home for my pre-loved books.

Good books never really end; they stay with you for ages and float in your imagination, with quotes that inspire you. You can lose yourself in a good book and find yourself as well.  Bad books should be flung across a room ( for closure) or if thick enough should be used as door stops. And with bad books, unlike with people who annoy you, you can just shut them and move on.

We all read for different reasons, for pleasure, escapism, inspiration and edification. Reading can fit into the crevices of your day. I only found the time and energy to start reading again once my daughter started school and began sleeping through the night. I find myself drawn to short books. Do thick books tell better stories or are they just verbose and  a waste of time? Shortest Booker prize winner – “The Sense of an Ending “at 163 pages by Julian Barnes and the longest “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton at a whopping 832. I do have that book, and yes, I use it as a door stop.

Short stories are often an underrated medium, but are great when you don’t have much time or just need a break.  A bit like speed dating, writers sometimes use them as a precursor to a novel, yet others use them as their sole medium. The best ones are neat and compact, do not rely on literary devices and can cover the shortest period and yet be profound.  I have discovered some good ones, but am still looking for the great one.

At the book club, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We all have different opinions about the book we’ve read and that’s great. No two people ever read the same book. Our views are coloured by our experiences, our history and our personalities. There is no judgment, just listening and consideration and yes, debate. There appear to be a few arbitrary rules: no romance novels, no serious classics (the stuff you had to read in school), also no mysteries and no vampire/ zombie books. The rest is fair game.

We come from different backgrounds, countries, professions and all have our own stories (which perhaps are more interesting than the ones we read about). So if you ever find yourself on a certain Saturday afternoon looking for inspiring conversation about books and reading, you are more than welcome to join our band of readers – we are on facebook (Delft Bookclub)  and have an email group too.

Happy summer.

Free libraries in Delft:

  • Ones around Hof Van Delft:
    • Adriaan Pauwstraat 74
    • Laan Van Overvest 44
    • Dirklangenstraat 40

And also a couple here

and one here:

Fiction and literary essays online / literary magazines

www.granta.com

www.newyorker.com (but with a monthly limit)

The Guardian weekly book review email – bookmarks

www.goodreads.com – for reviews and ratings of books

And don’t forget that the DOK library in Delft also has a good selection of adult fiction in English.

Amanda lives in Delft and when not hanging out with her 5 year old, tends to her balcony garden and continues her quest for the perfect short story (and the perfect chocolate cake).

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Amanda de Souza

Amanda lives in Delft and when not hanging out with her 5 year old, tends to her balcony garden and continues her quest for the perfect short story (and the perfect chocolate cake).

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