Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Hi, I'm Emily. Welcome to the site. I thought a good way to start it off would be to introduce ourselves and list our 5 favourite books we've read this year or of all time.

So... As most of you know, I'm married to John and have 2 small boys. Reading is central to my life but I don't get much time for it these days. I find that reading a book as part of a community, with a view to some discussion of it, vastly enriches my enjoyment of it. This online reading group will, I trust, provide those sort of benefits, in a flexible form, with yourselves as my handpicked fellow-readers :-)

5 best books this year, in no particular order

"Small Island" by Andrea Levy
Beautifully-crafted tale woven from 4 voices involved in Jamaican immigration to Britain in the 1940s. Tells us things we need to know in a funny, humane and satisfying way. The characterisation is especially sharp and subtle.
Source: my mother Val, chosen in our real-time reading group.

"The History Boys" by Alan Bennett
Quintessential Bennett: Exquisite. Hysterically funny, especially on stage: see it, at all costs, if it's ever performed again. A group of northern grammar school boys are groomed for Oxbridge entrance.
Source: saw it on stage first.

"Heartbeat" by Sharon Creech
A poignant short story in verse written about, and for, teenagers. Very moving in its simplicity, tenderness and clarity.
Source: recommended by my sister Ruth, who was recommended it by her friend Em.

"A Suitable Boy" by Vikram Seth
The monumental (in all senses) novel of Indian arranged marriage and family drama. Richly rewarding but needs stamina, since it's 1474 pages long.
Source: recommended by Valerie and my husband.

"All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Marie Remarque
The classic first-hand account of trench warfare in WW1, from the German side. Powerful yet not too gory; elegiac yet not sentimental. Captures a specific period, yet taught me valuable lessons now, with especially illuminating psychology.
Source: our real-time reading group; chosen by me, having been reminded that I needed to read it having bought it second-hand from a shelf in a pub...

Who's next?! I've put a few suggested guidelines below to help get us started.