Open Book Group

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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 on the News page
The following have been selected for future meetings in 2019

12th February 2019 - Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto

“A beautiful translation…Yoshimoto deploys a magically Japanese light touch to emotionally and existentially tough subject matter: domestic disarray, loneliness, identity issues, lovesickness…[a] nimble narrative.” —ELLE

A surreal and deeply human novel about recovery and rebuilding life after a mysterious death, from an internationally acclaimed Japanese literary sensation

In Moshi Moshi, Yoshie’s much-loved musician father has died in a suicide pact with an unknown woman. It is only when Yoshie and her mother move to Shimokitazawa, a traditional Tokyo neighborhood of narrow streets, quirky shops, and friendly residents that they can finally start to put their painful past behind them. However, despite their attempts to move forward, Yoshie is haunted by nightmares in which her father is looking for the phone he left behind on the day he died, or on which she is trying— unsuccessfully—to call him. Is her dead father trying to communicate a message to her through these dreams?

With the lightness of touch and surreal detachment that are the hallmarks of her writing, Banana Yoshimoto turns a potential tragedy into a poignant coming-of-age ghost story and a life-affirming homage to the healing powers of community, food, and family.


12th March 2019 - The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

Winner of the 2017 Stella Prize. A mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection - a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic's The Artist is Present.

Winner of the 2017 Stella Prize.

'This is a weirdly beautiful book.' David Walsh founder and curator, MONA

'Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.' Stella Adler

'Art will wake you up. Art will break your heart. There will be glorious days. If you want eternity you must be fearless.' From The Museum of Modern Love

She watched as the final hours of The Artist is Present passed by, sitter after sitter in a gaze with the woman across the table. Jane felt she had witnessed a thing of inexplicable beauty among humans who had been drawn to this art and had found the reflection of a great mystery. What are we? How should we live?

If this was a dream, then he wanted to know when it would end. Maybe it would end if he went to see Lydia. But it was the one thing he was not allowed to do.

Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.


19th April 2019 - Daring To Drive by Manal Al-Sharif

“A vital, inspiring book” (O, The Oprah Magazine): a ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of the courageous movement that won Saudi women the right to drive.

Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year strict fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassettes in the oven because music was haram: forbidden by Islamic law. But what a difference an education can make. By her twenties Manal was a computer security engineer, one of few women working in a desert compound built to resemble suburban America. That’s when the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions became too much to bear: she was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues, her school-age brother chaperoned her on a business trip, and while she kept a car in the garage, she was forbidden from driving on Saudi streets.

Manal al-Sharif’s memoir is an “eye-opening” (The Christian Science Monitor) account of the making of an accidental activist, a vivid story of a young Muslim woman who stood up to a kingdom of men—and won. Daring to Drive is “a brave, extraordinary, heartbreakingly personal” (Associated Press) celebration of resilience in the face of tyranny and “a testament to how women in Muslim countries are helping change their culture, one step at a time” (New York Journal of Books).


14th May 2019 - Autumn by Ali Smith

MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST
A New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Financial Times, Southern Living, The Guardian, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
Long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.

Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.

Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.