TO Book Club: Welcome!

03 Mar

Last week, I tweeted a thought I had about starting a book club, and later that day TO Book Club was born. I'm looking forward to engaging with others who are passionate about literature. Reading a book is a decidedly solitary activity. We need time to absorb the words, to allow the text to move us, to allow our imaginations to interact with the text creating an intimate and individual experience every time it is read. At the same time, there is a unique pleasure in the shared experience of going on that journey with others, having a multitude of parallel experiences that intersect at a moment in the text or engage in a vibrant debate/discussion/analysis of the work. It's those experiences that I hope to have reading with you.

To that end, I have set up the @TOBookClub account on Twitter. The vision of what this book club could be isn't fully formed yet. Right now, I have the rough idea of reading the book and meeting at some point after, likely toward the end of March to discuss the novel. You don't have to live in or near Toronto to do so, as I have started the hashtag #TOBookClub and will likely explore having a meeting via Twitter and Google + or other video/chat service for a larger group discussion (depending on how many people are interested in attending). If you have any ideas or suggestions, please add them in the comments or tweet me, I'd love to hear them!

The first book selected is Half-Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan. 

I'm about half way in and it is really difficult to put down. I have been tweeting quotes from the novel that (I hope) will give you a taste of the beauty of the narrative. Today I listened to a short podcast from the Man Booker Prize (the novel was a finalist). At the 7:30 mark is a lovely reading from the novel, a teaser that reveals just how easy it is to be drawn in by the gorgeous economy of words:

Included in the podcast is a brief overview of the novel and an explanation of why it was selected for the Man Booker Prize short list (teasers but no spoilers). There is an interview with the author as well. I highly recommend listening. The Globe & Mail's Marsha Lederman did a piece last fall on Esi Edugyan which has some background on the novel and some of the events that inspired the author. Last summer, the author was profiled by Quill & Quire's Donna Bailey Nurse in a short piece that highlights some of the challenges of being an author. The morning after she won the Giller Prize for Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan was interviewed by Jian Ghomeshi:

I hope these brief clips and interviews have whetted your appetite to read with us. For those of you who haven't yet started, don't worry, there's time. I'd like to meet some time during the week of March 27-April 3 to discuss the novel. The exact date and time will be announced in a week or so, as I get a sense of when would work best for participants, so please message me on Twitter to let me know when would (or would not) work for you.

Happy reading!