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September meetup

As the autumn begins, what better to do than curl up with a good book! The choices for September are The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (Julia) and Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking by Susan Cane (Ruth)

The Casual Vacancy
Pagford is a picturesque, parochial town with cobbled streets and quaint little cottages. Just beyond is the council estate, The Fields; a crime-ridden, concrete-crumbling embarrassment to the Pagford old guard. When Councillor Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly, leaving his seat in Pagford Parish Council open - a Casual Vacancy - old grudges break to new grievances. The council are divided by pro-Fielders and those who wish to see Pagford restored to its supposed former glory. It soon becomes clear, as the town's pretty façade begins to crack, that this division will inevitably lead to a disastrous conclusion.

This Dickensian approach, of telling the story of a town, rather than a character, is a marvellous example of just how good an author J.K. Rowling is. She weaves a rich tapestry of characters and situations together in a masterful and undeniably thought-provoking way. This story is told from the different perspectives of a number of complex personalities, young and old. For instance, you'll find yourself casting judgement on an individual; only to have your opinion receded by the next chapter. Gritty and controversial themes are explored throughout. It may not have the same "page-turner" appeal as her previous books, but it certainly leaves an imprint in the mind. I could go for days without picking this book up, but when I found time to read, I remembered exactly what had happened up to that point. This is great story-telling. I highly recommend this book, and eagerly await Rowling's next offering.

Quiet
In `Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking', introvert ex-corporate lawyer, Susan Cain, describes and illustrates a body of mostly US-centric research into personality types, which she divides into introverts and extroverts. Throughout the book, she weaves in her personal tales of inner transformation once she takes on board both the strengths and weaknesses of being an introvert, growing up and working in an American culture that appears to value and reward extrovert behaviour above all.

In the two and a half page conclusion of the book, she summarises maybe all you need to know about the strategies that introverts can adopt to take full advantage of their strengths (measured decision-making; empathy; analysis of situations based on sustained observation and reflection; intuition; ethical stances; preference for deep and meaningful social contacts; love of quiet and replenishing spaces etc).

Susan Cain comes across as sincere, sensitive, thoughtful and brave - as one might expect from her description of the typical introvert nature. She argues passionately that introverts, including those who come to the USA from a more culturally-introverted country, feel criticised and undervalued for being the way they are - shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as being negatives.

In some social and educational contexts, introversion is even seen as a kind of mental illness or learning disadvantage that must be cured. The author in fact acknowledges that constant exposure to extrovert behaviour; the pressure to perform in an inauthentic and pretend-extrovert manner; or just to `fit in' to a brash, noisy, insensitive world can be physically and emotionally damaging to someone more introverted.

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  • Wendy

    So sorry to cancel so last minute, been fighting bug last two days and was hoping could recover in time, hope someone else can go instead

    September 9, 2013

  • Ruth M.

    I am really sorry for the late notice, but I am not sure at the moment if I will be able to make it tonight. If I can't, is there someone who would be willing to talk about Quiet on my behalf?

    September 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just to apologise if I'm slightly later than 7.30. Work schedule has changed, now running into evening but am optimistic that I'll be there pretty close to kick-off.

    September 9, 2013

  • Jessica T.

    Really sorry, been told I've got to go away for work tomorrow morning so need to get stuff ready! :-(

    September 9, 2013

  • David

    Hi Chloe. Yes, the Grovesnor Cafe used to be called "The Loft". When you enter the cafe, there are rooms immediately to the left and right of the bar, usually we're in the room on the lefthand side. David

    September 9, 2013

  • Chloe

    Hi everyone

    Gonig to book club for the first time tonight. Can I check where exactly on Ashton lane it is? Am I correct in saying Grosvenor Cafe is what used to be The Loft?

    Thanks

    Chloe

    September 9, 2013

  • Paul John M.

    I'm sorry, just reicieved confirmation of my place at the book club but I'm afraid it'll have to go to the next reader on the list. I'm quite un-well and hope to make the next one. Apologies, Paul

    September 8, 2013

  • Paul John M.

    Hi, l know I am second spot on the waiting list but m laid up with terrible virus. Three weeks I've had it and would not wish to wipe out the entire book club. Perhaps I can make the next one.

    September 7, 2013

  • Christine

    hi sorry can now not make it on monday evening, hope someone can take my place

    September 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry, I have to go away with work. Hopefully, someone still has time to take my spot

    September 1, 2013

  • Paul John M.

    Thank you Eleanor.

    September 1, 2013

  • pauline

    Hi

    August 31, 2013

  • Eleanor

    Hi Paul. Unfortunately I can't guarantee how much notice you'll get, as it depends on when people who currently have spots change their RSVPs. I do ask people to update their RSVPs as soon as they know that they can't attend, but I have no way to make them. It looks like you're second on the RSVP list, so there's a good chance of getting a spot, but I can't be certain.

    1 · August 27, 2013

  • Eleanor

    Hi Hannah, yes at the moment we only run on Monday nights. I'm sorry that doesn't suit you.

    August 27, 2013

  • Paul John M.

    Hi fellow readers, would I be given at least a couple of days notice if someone couldn't make it and am I very far down on the list? I've wanted to join a book club for years.

    August 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry I realised Mondays are actually no good for me at the moment. Is the book club only on Monday? Thanks

    August 26, 2013

  • Eleanor

    PS. Thanks Naomi!

    August 26, 2013

  • Eleanor

    Hi Naomi and Hannah, yes Naomi is right. The room we use isn't huge and in my experience talking groups like the book group work best with slightly smaller numbers so we limit to 25.

    August 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Hannah, I've just put my name down to join and it lead to a page describing the need for the waiting list. I think the number of people that can attend is 25 max and if a space opens or someone cancels then you can get in from the waiting list... if that makes sense! Maybe some meets are more popular than others depending on the books?

    August 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    New to this meetup stuff. Is the reason for the waiting list because only a certain amount of people are allowed to attend?

    August 25, 2013

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