Celebrating a decade of Leeds Beckett Book Club
Helen Loughran, from Libraries and Learning Innovation, coordinates the group and told us more about the history, the books read and the membership of Leeds Beckett Book Club.
“Meeting approximately once per month, the Club will shortly have an impressive and eclectic list of 120 titles, ranging from classic and contemporary fiction (Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South); biography and memoir; factual (Bad Science by Ben Goldacre); plays (A View from a Bridge by Arthur Miller); and poetry (The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy). We’ve even revisited our childhood with a reading of Alice in Wonderland. Members have been fortunate to meet authors such as Blake Morrison and Sophie Hannah.
“Titles are chosen a few months in advance so that members can source them from libraries, charity shops or online as well as requesting them as presents! All members suggest titles and the coordinator, Helen Loughran, then pulls a programme together.
“The Book Club mailing list is used to cascade information on events of interest taking place across the University and region. We’ve read titles to coincide with University events such as the Festival of Politics and International Relations and took part in a research project into women’s writing led by Professor Susan Watkins from the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities.”
Club members Marta, Paul, Barbara, Mark, Colin, Sandra and Geraldine gave us some interesting answers to some questions put to them:
How long have you been a member of Book Club?
Club members told us they had joined as recently as three months ago and up to nine years ago.
What do you like about Book Club and what made you join it?
I read things that I usually wouldn't and, more importantly, have a chance to discuss them with other people.
It was recommended by someone I met at a creative writing class.
I value the diversity of the books we read and the chance to hear the opinions of others.
I like the variety of books (stuff I’d never choose for myself) and the ‘deadline’ meeting date.
Expanding my book reading horizons but also the coffee and biscuits.
It has made me read things I may not otherwise have tried.
It is interesting listening to everybody’s different opinions.
What’s your favourite title?
My Cousin Rachel or Atonement, but Bad Science and Socialnomics made me think differently.
The World's Wife by Carol Anne Duffy.
Half of a Yellow Sun. Brilliant writing, characterisation and a story all too easily forgotten.
Steve Jobs‘s remarkable, gripping biography.
The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty. I loved the use of language in the novel and the way he was able to discuss serious topics with touches of humour.
Still Alice for the insight into Alzheimers/dementia.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Round Ireland with a Fridge and Gone Girl.
Which book would you choose as your Desert Island title?
Probably Persuasion by Jane Austen.
An introduction to philosophical thought by someone like A. J. Ayer.
An omnibus of John Wyndham's which includes The Chrysalids and others of his in one volume.
Longitude by Dava Sobel or the hardback version of Penguin's Poems for Life.
The Warden by Trollope.
Graham Green novels in the hope that I can take them all!
The latest Peter Robinson or Martina Cole book.
In the next four months the members will be reading: on 18 January, Netherland by Joseph O’Neill; 15 February, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett; 15 March, Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota, our writer in Residence who will be in attendance; and 12 April, A Delicious Slice of Johnners by Brian Johnston.
Members are a mix of current and retired University staff, alumni and members of the public. Students are also welcome to come along. Contact Helen Loughran for details, email@example.com