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What happened at the Salon?

Readers' Salon

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On the first Monday of every month we have our much-loved Readers’ Salon. Unlike the Book Group, there is no set book to read; instead, we have a semi-structured discussion about books we’re reading, books we want to read and everything in between! It’s always a joy and on the 5th we had our first session of 2018.

We had newcomers, old hands and it was a great way to kick off the reading year – and introduce some people to the Golden Hare Reading Challenge! We thought we’d post a wee summary of our discussion so that those who have never been can get a taste for what it’s like, and there may be some good recommendations in there for you too![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

We started by talking about what we are reading just now, and we mentioned

  • People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry (introduced here)
  • The Mandibles: A Family by Lionel Shriver
  • Lullaby by Leila Slimani (reviewed here)
  • Emily’s Voices by Emily Knoll
  • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
  • Get In Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link
  • City and The City by China Miėville

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]While talking about our current reading habits, one attendee mentioned that she had recently found a good way to cure a ‘reading block’: short stories. She said that reading an anthology of short stories had helped her tremendously, as a whole story can be read in under an hour or several can be read if you are feeling more confident. It does away with the daunting prospect of diving into a whole novel without sacrificing quality or plot. We thought this was a great idea, especially with our new Short Story Club proving to be a roaring success![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Our main topic of discussion was the 2018 Golden Hare Reading Challenge. We had a chat about February’s prompt – “A book set in Edinburgh” – and what books sprung to mind as options for this month. It turns out that this is not as simple a prompt as you’d think! Here’s what we came up with:

  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
  • Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  • Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

This spurned two threads of discussion: how to decide whether a book counts as being set in Edinburgh and where the best place to start with Muriel Spark’s books is.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The first thread was a torn one. Is a book set in Edinburgh of all the action takes place there, or does it still count if the characters only visit it once? One particular example of this is Frankenstein. On their travels, the characters find themselves in our fair city, and it is mentioned by name, but they do not stay there for even a full chapter. Does that count as a book that is set here? On the other hand, there is a book such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which is technically set in London but it more clearly resembles Edinburgh. It has been an argument for years among readers as to where the action is supposed to take place, and we were divided as to whether it could count as a book to read this month.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The second thread, where to start with Muriel Spark, was equally interesting. With 22 books in her roster she can be an intimidating author to jump in to, and with everyone having a different favourite it was hard to pinpoint one true starting point. We agreed that Jean Brodie was probably the most iconic, and therefore where many would choose to start, but one attendee threw a curve ball when she announced that her favourite was ‘A Far Cry from Kensington’. We are not ones to judge here at the Golden Hare, so we heard her out, and concluded that it may be a good idea to start with a less recognisable book when reading such a distinguished author for the first time.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

It was an excellent night of bookishness and we hope to see some of the new members returning. If you like the sound of the salon, we meet on the first Monday of every month and we love to see new faces. Click here if you’d like to know more, or pop into the shop and have a chat with us!

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