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 2018

12th June 2018 - Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Description:

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War

The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body.

Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders' inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices - living and dead, historical and fictional - Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?

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10th July 2018 - In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi

Description:

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR

WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE

SHORTLISTED FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE 2017

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author of Backlash, an astonishing confrontation with the enigma of her father and the larger riddle of identity.

In 2004 feminist writer Susan Faludi set out to investigate someone she scarcely knew: her estranged father. Steven Faludi had lived many roles: suburban dad, Alpine mountaineer, swashbuckling adventurer in the Amazon, Jewish fugitive in Holocaust Budapest. Living in Hungary after sex reassignment surgery and identifying as ‘a complete woman now,’ how was this new parent connected to the silent and ultimately violent father who had built his career on the alteration of images?

Faludi’s struggle to come to grips with her father's metamorphosis takes her across borders – historical, political, religious, sexual – and brings her face to face with the question of the age: is identity something you "choose" or is it the very thing you cannot escape?

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14th August 2018 - Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Description:

'THE NEW QUEEN OF CRIME' Sunday Times

The gripping new novel from the author of the Sunday Times top ten bestseller, Waterstones Thriller of the Month and Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year, The Dry.

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK...

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice's welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

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PAST OPEN BOOK GROUP BOOKS:

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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