Friday, 23 September 2011

An Interview With... Matchbook Book Club

A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us. 

-Franz Kafka

Dear members,

I was recently approached by Book Club In a Box to feature our book club in their September Book Club Spotlight. Of course I couldn't turn down this lovely opportunity, and did my very best to answer their wonderful questions which provide a further insight as to what our book club is all about.
I have mentioned this interview on our Facebook and Twitter, but some have requested posting the interview up on the blog, so here it is- enjoy!

From their website:

Book Club Spotlight: The Matchbook Book Club

Once every month, we’ll share the motivation and passion that drives one book club — it could be yours! — from across the globe. These are the people who have combined the solitary pleasure of reading a book with the joy of sharing, discussing, and debating it in a social setting. For September’s Book Club Spotlight, say hello to Joanne from Toronto, who founded the Matchbook Book Club.
What was the inspiration for starting the Matchbook Book Club?
Three months ago, as I was about to finish university, I went looking for a book club in Toronto that shared the same passion for books and wanted to create something more from what we read through fun trips or activities, and where discussions in meetings would have the charm and feel of a literary salon. So when nothing arose, I decided to pursue a book club that would have such attributes. Little did I know that many shared the same sentiment! As well, I wanted the book club to be inspirational, defining what we think and imagine in old world charisma within modern times. Our motto is inspired by the words of the English poet John Keats: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
To meet a variety of wonderful individuals right here in my city, who share the same passion for books and have amazing ideas to bring forth during meetings, has helped to further shape my outlook of life. It’s such a remarkable feeling.
Who are the members of your club? How did you come to know each other?
We have a wide range of members from various parts of Toronto, but we also have someone from as far as Australia interested in our book club. She keeps updated through our email newsletters and takes part in discussions on our blog! Some are friends I have known in university, at work, or those who contacted me from seeing the Facebook pageblog, or Twitter account. As well, in the earlier days, I posted the book club in the Penguin Book Club newsletter.
Our members include: Jennifer, Shirley, Barbara, Ifhtia, John, JoAnne, Shalabh, Nathalie, Anila, Sonya, Veronica, Lydia, Michele, Alia, Khadija, Shemeena, Thuvaraga, and Candida.
How does your group select each book? Is there specific criteria?
The kinds of books we read covers all sorts of genres and in a broader sense, aim to look at subjects that are noteworthy, touch our hearts, and provide a greater understanding of the world around us. What I do is handpick five interesting titles whose recommendations either come from my favourite bookstores, such as Indigo and Nicholas Hoare, from publishers, or titles I come across personally that I feel would be ideal and would fit the sentiments of our book club.
At our meetings, everyone has the opportunity to read the synopsis of each title and vote on which will be our pick of the month! At the same time, everyone has the chance to voice titles they feel would be ideal for the book club. During certain months, I add an interesting twist and make it themed. In July, it was mystery-themed and so our pick was a classic: Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. For the month of September, the theme will be “the Nostalgic Romantic,” and for October, in light of Halloween, the theme will be “Wonderstruck Noir.”
Do you have a unique way of preparing for a book club meeting?
I love to plan and organize. In fact, I love to make lists of things to do should my memory fail me! I have a Moleskine notebook especially for the book club, which I fill with ideas for our meetings and trips. I collect a variety of interesting discussion questions that can further branch out into a broader subject matter, allowing more space for people to put in their thoughts. In addition, the ability to ensure positive energy to bring into the meeting plays a great role.
Do you incorporate food, films, field trips, or other bonus features into your meetings?
Most definitely! In fact, our upcoming meeting involves discussing our current selection,The Help by Kathryn Stockett. We are all going to the cinema to see the film before our meeting.
During our last meeting (for Murder on the Orient Express), we had light snacks and incorporated a murder mystery game called “Poirot Investigates.” It involves each member picking a character by chance, one secretly being the murderer, and whoever selects Poirot has to investigate each member. I happened to be Poirot, and my conclusion about whom the murderer was turned out to be wrong! Regardless, the winner received a small prize.
My very first intention was to also include fun trips within the book club, such as picnics on the Toronto Islands, visits to botanical gardens, or other fun events. As autumn is underway, I hope to include trips to places like the apple orchard, as well as fun crafts like making leaf lanterns.
If you could invite any author (or even just any person) to join one of your meetings, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, Arthur Conan Doyle. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, along with many of the others members of the book club. It would be such an honour for Doyle to sit in with us, discuss our readings, and allow us to pick his brain. Oh the endless questions I would ask!
Of all the books your club has selected, which is your favourite? (And do you have another favourite book that hasn’t been read by your club?)
To be quite honest, all the books we have read so far (The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Help) have been exceptionally lovely in their own way. There is a favourite book of mine that hasn’t been read by our club, but was within the selections: Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs. It’s a refreshing and captivating read. One can’t help but desire to have a bit of Maisie in all of us.

As well, I hope everyone has a fantastic upcoming weekend! What are your weekend plans?

Every year, I look forward to this weekend as I would head to Queens Park to check out Word On The Street- a book and magazine festival which celebrates literacy and the written word. You can meet authors and check out publishers there- and be very tempted to stock up bagful of books to bring home! It takes place on Sunday the 25th. Make sure to come out and enjoy the festivities!

Joie de vivre,

Monday, 19 September 2011

Our September Selection

All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name. - Andre Breton


Hello everyone!

At last, September has arrived and it carries the promise of grand things to come. Fall is definitely one of my favourite seasons, where one can witness the beautiful change of reds, oranges, and yellows on the leaves where it then makes its final bow.

Some lovely things to look forward to include:
Snuggling into thick sweaters, the smell of cooking and baking during family gathering as Thanksgiving, drinking apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes, eating apple pie and picking apples from the apple orchard, the thrill of dressing up for Halloween no matter what age (not to mention carving pumpkins!), Nuit Blanche, and so much more.

This month, our theme is called "The Nostalgic Romantic". The Nostalgic Romantic alludes to the touch of the historical and the sentimental, where we look back to the past, feeling a stir of yearning for what once was, and holding on to the sense of wonder found in our present everyday lives.
I am also excited to inform everyone that I have a list full of fun ideas for our book club this season. Some examples include picking apples at the apple orchard, throwing a Fall Craft Party (working on fun things as leaf lanterns that will brighten our home), have dinner-and-a-movie day where the film ties with this month's theme, visit historical places in the city, and much more!

How are you spending your September days?

Catching up on...
Our Fourth Meeting
Our fourth meeting was a hoot, where we discussed about our August book club pick "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett at Marche Restaurant (located at Brookfield Place) on Saturday, September the 17th. We touched upon many different subject matters at the plot, the characters, the symbols, and the themes embedded in the story, connecting the author's background to give us a bigger picture of the novel. Many of the members had seen the film version and were glad to have discovered that it was quite true to the book. Discussions were full of laughs and there was never a dull moment as we recall examples as Minnie's attitude and "Two-slice" Hilly, and were all very touched by Skeeter, Constantine, and Celia with her ability to see beyond the divided line found in Mississippi. We touched upon hard subjects as inequality and discrimination, where there was wholehearted agreement that issues found within the novel such as racial discrimination, which took place during that time, are just as relevant today.
Some very interesting points were brought out, one being the symbolic presence of red found throughout the book, as well as the meaning behind "the scream"- the author was actually inspired by the painter Edvard Munch and his famous painting, "The Scream." Who would have guessed!

Our September Selection
Out of the five titles that were picked, many were drawn and voted for  Rosie Alison's "The Very Thought Of You".
A summary:
England, 31st of August, 1939.

The world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, and enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn in their unravelling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes- and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with unforeseen consequences.
A story of longing, loss and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle pyschological observation, The Very Thought of You is not just a love story, but a story about love.

Look to upcoming posts for more insights, thoughts and inspirations on this month's theme, about the author, and "The Very Thought of You".

Happy reading!


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

"Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?"
-Kathryn Stokett, The Help

Dear members,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. How is everyone enjoying the book, The Help?
One thing's for sure: I know I am absolutely hooked- I find myself smiling many times, laughing out loud at some moments, and felt my eyes tearing up on very touching moments. I can't wait to discuss this book with all of you.
Interested in knowing a bit more about the book and the film? Here is author Kathryn Stockett's website:
For the film's website:
( I must say, I really like the soundtrack to the film).
Speaking of which, our fourth meeting is right around the corner! The members have voted via Doodle, and  it will be taking place this Saturday, September 17th at 12:00-2:00pm at Marche, located inside Brookfield Place.

Shortly after the meeting those who are interested in checking out the film version of "The Help" will be able to do so, as there will be a 3:45pm showing at Rainbow Cinemas Market Square.
Here is a trailer for the film, and a film clip to go with!

See you on Saturday!

Until then,