January 02, 2006

AZ and I have been participating in some online reading circles lately - AZ in greater quantity and duration than I have, in no small part due to the encouragement of our pal Sivani.

One of the groups I'm in is the Booker Prize reading group. I've been oddly fascinated with the Man Booker - a UK centric prize - for the last few years - perhaps because our annual trip (well, two years running) was coincident with the announcement of the shortlist, which gets a lot of coverage in the UK newspaper.

Thus far I've read three of the books with the circle - Muriel Spark's Loitering with Intent (a bit overshaded and under-inspiring for me), Ruth Prawar Jhabvala's Heat and Dust (better than Spark, but a bit underwhelming of a take on colonial India - I felt the mirrorings and shadowings were a bit heavy-handed and missed the delicacy I was accustomed to from RPJ's adaptations with Merchant Ivory), and William Trevor's The Children of Dynmouth (which was dark and enjoyable in a bite sized morsel).

The present book being read is one of this year's shortlists, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I'm enjoying it so far. But like the others, it's a dark read; I'm only 20% through at the moment, but it's quite filled with foreboding. So in order to win the Man Booker Prize, do you have to be dark? I don't think so, considering the other two Booker works I've read. Monica Ali's Brick Lane (shortlisted two years ago) and Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (2004's winner) were not nearly as dark as the books we've read in the group. I'd strongly recommend Line of Beauty - it's a rich book with an engaging take on class and cross-cultural divides, wrapped up in a Thatcherite Britain mise en scène.

The book circle has had a benefit of pushing me to read books and authors that have been on my list for some time; the conversation and encouragement help, though there is a definite benefit to AZ and I reading the same book at the same time - lots of discussion happens offlist.

If there were something similar for 'reading in cog sci and collaboration thinkers', I'd love to take part in that. Seems like it might be too rarefied a topic, however

For more reading fun, check out a list of Guardian reader's favorite and recommended works for the 2005 year of reading. Some good recommendations there (if only we had more shelves!).

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Posted by esinclai at January 02, 2006 09:43 PM |
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