Book Club Suggestions

I’ve been meaning to make some suggestions for a while:

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. Orthodox Jewish boy steps outside his own world.
Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. A comic novel until we realise it is about us, not about “them”.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. Still extraordinary after all these years.
Angels and Men by Catherine Fox. Set in a dreamy theological college – well kent territory to me.
Easter by Michael Arditti. Slightly flawed and far too long, but still easily makes the grade.
Magnus by George Mackay Brown. All about saints, maybe.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris. The perfect book for Lent.
The Magus by John Fowles. The godgame writ large.
Quarantine by Jim Crace. Another Lent book to take us to the desert.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. To help us think about who is to blame for African biblicism.

    What would you suggest?


    1. Be Near Me by Andrew O’Hagan. About an English Catholic priest in a west coast Scottish parish. About class, national identity, 60s idealism and the struggle between ethics and aesthetics. Beautifully written.

      Thanks for the list. Some I’m not familiar with and will have to look into for our book group.

    2. Mr Golightly’s Holiday by Salley Vickers. About an old man who goes for a break to a little village and meets all sorts of characters. But who is Mr Golightly? A wonderful book that not everyone ‘gets’ but should.

      In fact, anything by Salley Vickers is worth including imo.

      The Secret Life of Bees. A young girl and her black maid run away from violent dad and stay with three sisters who keep bees. A story of violence, discovery, faith, apartheid and bees.

      Oh! Gotta go, time for church…

    3. kelvin says

      Thanks for those suggestions.

      Be Near Me was the book at a book club meeting in St Mary’s in December, otherwise I would have put it on my list. It was unusual in that I liked the book without liking any of the characters or feeling any sympathy. It was all worth it for the paragraph containing the title about two thirds of the way through.

      As to Mr Golightly, I never finished it. And before anyone says, “oh, but did you realise what it was all about, did you not work out who Mr Golightly was?” the answer is that I worked out the conceit from the back cover and felt there were no surprises coming my way.

      Bees, I know nothing of.

    4. If I were reading a book on Bees, it would be The Bee Season, by Myla Goldberg. I haven’t seen the film, since I fear it would ignore most of the depth of the book. A little girl gets her fathers attention by winning a spelling bee in such a way that her spelling occupies the same spiritual space as her father’s study of kabbala and her brother’s experiments with the Hari Krishna.

      Theologically interesting in relation to what is ‘real’ in mysticism.

    5. Michael says

      If you’re going to have MY NAME IS ASHER LEV, then I would also have THE RETURN OF ASHER LEV

    6. Andrew CJ says

      Oh, the power of your blog! There must have been a noted surge in book sales somewhere. Your post, and the attendant comments, was just that final little nudge needed to convince me of the wisdom in securing Andrew O’Hagan’s Be Near Me. It arrived two days ago in the post. Would positively love to be part of a reading group to discuss it; so much food for thought therein so far.

      Question anent George Mackay Brown’s Magnus: is it really too gory throughout or just at the end. And either way is it bearable nonetheless. Or should one just abstain if one is known not to enjoy gore?

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