Book club and a quirky pub

A while ago I mentioned I started a book club. I thought I’d tell you a bit more about it because a) it feels like a long time since I wrote about something that wasn’t chronic pain and b) I really like it. I figure that’s reason enough to share.

I always wanted to join a book club but feared I wasn’t clever enough. I thought people would have intellectual conversations I couldn’t keep up with and then I’d be asked to leave the group, and that fear of embarrassment was just too much so I didn’t bother.

It took me about ten years to realise I could just start my own book club with friends, we could hang out and catch up and occasionally chat about books. (The fact it took me so long to come up with the idea supports my earlier fears about lack of brain power.)

Almost a year ago I set up a book club with five girls at work. We meet every six weeks and when it’s your turn to pick the book, you also pick the meeting place. We’ve been to some great pubs, curry houses and pizza places in the last few months and we’ve read quite a variety of books. The main reason I wanted to join a book club was to challenge myself and read books I wouldn’t normally read, or stick with them when I would normally give up, and on the whole it’s gone to plan. Popular choices have included: Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

This week we met at the Catford Constitutional Club in, yes, Catford, to discuss two books: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson.

Catford Constitutional Club with bunting

Anyone who knows me will see why I love this pub. Mismatched furniture and bunting – what more could a girl ask for? The food was actually pretty disappointing; my chocolate torte was more of an uncooked brownie and I could have cried. I hate it when I waste calories on crap food. The worn walls and shabby-chic decor keep me going back so it’s not all bad.

Catford Constitutional Club with bunting

I’m not going to write book reviews because I was never very good at that; the best one I ever did was of Roald Dahl’s the BFG when I was at school and I was so proud of it, but mainly because of the replica cover I drew which took up half the page.

But, briefly, here goes. I couldn’t finish H is for Hawk because I found it desperately dull. The whole country seems to love it but I found it almost painful to read. If I’m ever looking to go into falconry then this will be a great book, but it was a little too much hawk and not enough anything else. The others found it a struggle but they did at least finish it. I think maybe because I was in a restless mood and looking to be entertained, I didn’t have the patience for it. Perhaps a more melancholy mood would have kept me powering through it.

Before I Go to Sleep was exactly what I needed; an easy-read that kept me entertained and on the still-able-to-sleep side of creeped out. I read it in less than a week which is AMAZING for me as I think I may be the world’s slowest reader, but at points I was reading it whilst walking down the pavement. Gripping. When I finished it I watched the film and wow, that was awful. I love Colin Firth but crikey, it was one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

Catford Constitutional Club with bunting

The moral of this blog post is go and hang with your friends, try out your local restaurants and read some new books. If you can’t get through them, well, at least you gave it a shot. I just hope you don’t find a bad chocolate torte on the way because that is, quite frankly, unacceptable.