I can’t believe that it is almost a month since the meeting, time has slipped away and I am only just getting round to writing this, with April’s meeting on the horizon. March was a very small meeting, but really good fun, to be fair, it always is, whether there are four of us or ten, we always have a laugh. Stoner is a modern classic, which had gone largely unnoticed for years, and then suddenly it found itself in many lists of books that everyone should read, I found it in such a list, I think it was called ‘100 books to read before you die’, but I may be mistaken.
Stoner – John Williams
I will start by saying that I loved this book. I loved it for all of the things it is not, it is not a trying hard to be funny comedy, a twisty turny thriller or a soppy romance novel, it is simply the story of a man’s life. Stoner’s life is not exciting, it is not remarkable, he does not change the world, but it is real, it is real in a way that books don’t usually cover, I mean really, who wants to read about a man who is nobody in particular, doing nothing spectacular? It turns out I do, and not only me, the other for book club members who attended the meeting loved it too. Stoner is a beautifully written, moving novel which recounts a life, an entire life, and does it in a way that draws you in and makes you want to find out more.
The most remarkable thing about this book for me is that it challenged my perceptions, I was convinced that, in order for me to love a book, I must first love a character in the book, this is simply not true. I felt no particular affection for Stoner, or for anyone else in the book, but the writing is so utterly wonderful that it truly didn’t matter. The rating from those of us that were here was an easy 4.5*, what was surprising though was that two of the club members who couldn’t make the meeting sent their ratings through and both gave it only 2.5*, so it would seem that Stoner is not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it.
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
I was looking forward to reading this book, not least because I got a gorgeous wee hardback copy for Christmas and it is just so pretty. I had hoped that The Alchemist would have some profound philosophical effect on me, that would lead to my wanting to walk barefoot through a storm, or give away all of my belongings or some such, it did not. It did not even hold my attention, Santiago embarked on an epic journey, and I just wanted to sleep, if I am honest I was bored, and couldn’t want for it to end, which thankfully didn’t take too long.
The importance of having a dream is the main message of this book, and it’s a good one, I agree, but i didn’t love the writing. I thought it was weak, full of cliches and not at all inspiring, in fact lines like “all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream…” drove me to despair. Oh and also the fact that the author calls the story a fable, does not make it so. I found ‘The five people you meet in heaven’ to be much more thought provoking and poignant. As a group we rated this book 3* I gave it 2.5*, in my opinion there are many better novels to read, and if it’s self help that you are after, there are many books of that nature around as well.