The Book Lovers’ Companion with forward by Lionel Shriver
Lionel Shriver is an American journalist and author. She was born 18, May 1957 in Gastonia, North Carolina, USA and is best known for her novel We Need to Talk About Kevin which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005. So when I noticed that she had written the forward to The Book Lovers’ Companion, I knew it would be worth consulting this book as I now lead the village book group, having inherited that distinction from my friend, Evelyn Hood. Going through the table of contents actually feels a bit like being at a book club. Some of the choices made me beam with delight; others left me spluttering with disbelief!
Of course, such a good book club discussion can be the forging of a new friendship but deciding what to read next can be a daunting task for a lot of us. You want a book that is different enough that it will not suffer from a comparison from the last book you read. While books and stories can be social; reading itself is a very individual process. There are a plethora of factors that impact on reading. Mood alone can change how you respond to a book. Getting recommendations from friends and family or a trusted book reviewer is probably considered the safest route to sourcing your next read. You will have a first hand positive review to work from.
There are over 200 entries, including many of the usual suspects: Pride and Prejudice, Brick Lance or The Great Gatsby in The Book Lovers’ Companion. There are also gems that do not normally make their way into an anthology of this type including Perfume and The Story of Lucy Gault. Each entry in The Book Lovers’ Companion is divided up into sections. These include spoiler free summaries, discussion points, reader’s notes and background information. Similar titles that might be of interest are also included.
I started off reading about books that I had already read so that I could get into the style of The Book Lovers’ Companion. However, there were a number of reviewers involved in the compilation of this book resulting in a diverse range that are humourous, personal and topic specific. I love top tens and look forward to spending a bit of time contrasting theirs with my mental lists.The Book Lovers’ Companion contains a great range of books reviewed. Importantly, each review reads honestly, albeit briefly. It is particularly enjoyable to pick out the entry of a really unique book and watch the struggle to succinctly condense it into a few sentences. However, perhaps if each review were a page or two longer, it would allow for a slightly more in-depth look at each book. The summaries were quite impressive and I enjoyed reading the opinions offered. I highly recommend it.