Open Book Group

Open Book Group

Friends of Balmain Library Open Book Group read from a wide variety of literature and regularly meets for an enjoyable discussion and debate about the book chosen for the month. We are always open to new members.

WHEN:  The second Tuesday of the month
WHERE:  Balmain Library Meeting Room
TIME:  1pm – 3pm
COST:  FREE

‘Open’ is the operative word in the format of this group. Members are welcome to come to any meeting they wish and so can balance work, family and other commitments without that guilty feeling.

Books are chosen after suggestions from members and there is no charge. There is a Moderator for each meeting and once the book has been reviewed there is a chance to

socialise over some light refreshments.  We gather in the Meeting Room situated immediately on your left as you enter Balmain Library.

Past Books read by the Open Book Group together with summaries by Gillian O’Mulloy (FOBL Committee member) of the Group’s discussions are at  OBG Books from Oct 2007 with GOM reviews

The following have been selected for future meetings in 2017 and 2018

 

14th November 2017- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Description:

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014

Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.


And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

It's funny, clever, intimate, honest, analytical and swirling with ideas that will come back to bite you.

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12th December 2017- The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

Description:

'BARNES'S MASTERPIECE' - OBSERVER

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

‘Stunning’ Sunday Times

‘A profound meditation on power and the relationship of art and power… It is a masterpiece of sympathetic understanding… I don’t think Barnes has written a finer, more truthful or more profound book’ Scotsman

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13th February 2018 - The Colour by Rose Tremain

Description:

Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from Norfolk to New Zealand in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in the creek he is seized by a rapturous obsession with the voluptuous riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new gold-fields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of 'the colour', are violently rushing to their destinies.

By turns both moving and terrifying, The Colour is about a quest for the impossible, an attempt to mine the complexities of love and explore the sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of happiness.

Date: December 12, 2017

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13th March 2018 - Commonwealth by Ann Pratchett

Description:

THE NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A powerful story of two families brought together by beauty and torn apart by tragedy, the new novel by the Orange Prize-winning author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder is her most astonishing yet

It is 1964: Bert Cousins, the deputy district attorney, shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited, bottle of gin in hand. As the cops of Los Angeles drink, talk and dance into the June afternoon, he notices a heart-stoppingly beautiful woman. When Bert kisses Beverly Keating, his host's wife, the new baby pressed between them, he sets in motion the joining of two families whose shared fate will be defined on a day seven years later.

In 1988, Franny Keating, now twenty-four, has dropped out of law school and is working as a cocktail waitress in Chicago. When she meets one of her idols, the famous author Leon Posen, and tells him about her family, she unwittingly relinquishes control over their story. Franny never dreams that the consequences of this encounter will extend beyond her own life into those of her scattered siblings and parents.

Told with equal measures of humour and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a powerful and tender tale of family, betrayal and the far-reaching bonds of love and responsibility. A meditation on inspiration, interpretation and the ownership of stories, it is Ann Patchett's most astonishing work to date.

Date: December 12, 2017

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10th April 2018 - The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

Description:

EVAN IS A SUICIDE ASSISTANT. HIS JOB IS LEGAL - JUST.

'A poignant, sharply funny story that raises questions about life, death, and love' Louise O'Neill

'You might just want to find and hug a nurse after finishing this thoughtful and ethically nuanced novel' Guardian

Evan is the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it.

Evan's friends don't know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn't know what he's up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble ahead.

As he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against the limits of the law - and his own morality. And with Viv increasingly unwell, his love life complicated, to say the least, Evan begins to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes.

From an award-winning author, The Easy Way Out is a brilliantly funny and exquisitely sad novel that gets to the heart of one of the most difficult questions each of us may face: would you help someone die?

Date: December 12, 2017

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8th May 2018 - Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Description:

Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for precolonial Aboriginal Australians.

The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag.

Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie.

Almost all the evidence comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources.

Date: December 12, 2017

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PAST OPEN BOOK GROUP BOOKS:

 

10th October 2017 - Songs of a War Boy by Deng Adut

Description:

The true story of Deng Adut - Sudanese child soldier, refugee, man of hope

Deng Adut's family were farmers in South Sudan when a brutal civil war altered his life forever. At six years old, his mother was told she had to give him up to fight. At the age most Australian children are starting school , Deng was conscripted into the Sudan People's Liberation Army. He began a harsh, relentless military training that saw this young boy trained to use an AK-47 and sent into battle. He lost the right to be a child. He lost the right to learn.

The things Deng saw over those years will stay with him forever. He suffered from cholera, malaria and numerous other debilitating illnesses but still he had to fight. A child soldier is expected to kill or be killed and Deng almost died a number of times. He survived being shot in the back. The desperation and loneliness was overwhelming. He thought he was all alone.

But Deng was rescued from war by his brother John. Hidden in the back of a truck, he was smuggled out of Sudan and into Kenya. Here he lived in refugee camps until he was befriended by an Australian couple. With their help and the support of the UN, Deng Adut came to Australia as a refugee.

Despite physical injuries and mental trauma he grabbed the chance to make a new life. He worked in a local service station and learnt English watching The Wiggles. He taught himself to read and started studying at TAFE.  In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Law at Western Sydney University. He became the first person in his family to graduate from university.

This is an inspiring story of a man who has overcome deadly adversity to become a lawyer and committed worker for the disenfranchised, helping refugees in Western Sydney. It is an important reminder of the power of compassion and the benefit to us all when we open our doors and our hearts to fleeing war, persecution and trauma.

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12th September 2017 - My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Description:

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante's inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other.

They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila

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8th August 2017 - Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Description:

'Brilliant' Guardian
'Superb' Financial Times
'Virtuosic and breathtaking' Times Literary Supplement
'There is still no better chronicler of the modern British family than Zadie Smith' Telegraph

SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2017

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from north west London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty

Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either...

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from north-west London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

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