Making your book group a winner!

The kings last song
The king's last song

Following on from the session in the Writers festival about the Orange prize, I stumbled upon this article on the Guardian Unlimited blog.  The Orange Prize not ony deals with award winning books and funding towards Literary and Educational causes, it also hands out prizes for the best Book Group in the UK.  The winner for this year themes its food and venues to the books it reads.

13 members dined on deep fried crickets when reading Geoff Ryman’s Cambodia-set The King’s Last Song, eyeball gobstoppers when discussing Michel Faber’s hitchhiker horror Under the Skin, and chocolate fountains and champagne for Jeanette Winterson’s erotic novel Written on the Body.

This group also likes to match the venues in which they meet to the books they are reading.

meeting in a pub below the Forth Road Bridge when discussing The Thirty-Nine Steps. Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions saw members dressing up as characters from the book. “After a few glasses of wine it’s quite fun, and it brings more to the books as it makes us fully experience them,”

So I’m thinking now about ways in which all you book group members could spice things up a bit?   How about a Japanese theme for Memoirs of a Geisha, combat fatigues for Catch 22, eat in the foodhall at Westfields when discussing What was lost, Lord of the rings could benefit from a trip to middle earth, and big bloomers would be mandatory when Bridget Jones’s Diary features. The list could be endless, and other suggestions?

Food Thoughts

Michael Pollan is my current favourite writer and I can’t wait to read his latest book, In defence of food.

I came across his first book, Second Nature: a gardener’s education, by chance and loved it. Pollan is a former journalist, and now professor of science and environmental journalism at UC Berkeley. He is also a hugely informative, entertaining writer who will take a theme (gardening, building, food, eating) and follow it totally. He builds, he gardens, he farms and as he does so he thinks about what he is doing, why we (or at least Americans) do things one way and not another. Pollan is a true polymath and a joy to read.

He spoke at the Auckland Writers’ festival earlier this year and there is plenty of information about him on the internet, but the best way to get to know his ideas is to read his books.

The whole topic of food supply is very hot right now – see Jamie Oliver’s two shows that recently screened on TV and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as well as Pollan’s own Omnivore’s Dilemma: the natural history of four meals, not to mention most of the feature articles in the latest NZ Listener. Although I love Kingsolver’s fiction I found this book difficult to get into. Maybe it’s because it was written in collaboration with two other people.