Fans of British Writers discussion

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message 1: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Several people who voted on the recent poll expressed an interest in doing a common read once in awhile. On one of our other threads, we've already floated some possible books to read; but I thought I'd set up this thread as a central clearinghouse for talking about what to read as a group, the scheduling of reads, logistics, etc. Participation in any read that we do as a group should definitely be voluntary --it doesn't work for everybody all the time, so we should respect each others' tastes and reading schedules, etc.!

If we do a common read in January, and pick the book in a poll, the poll will probably run in December. Will the Christmas and other holidays of the season be too much of a distraction then to get as full a participation as we'd like? Would it be better to run the poll in January, and do our read in February?

message 2: by Werner (last edited Sep 06, 2012 03:35PM) (new)

Werner | 756 comments It's still early days at this point; but as I noted above, some suggestions have been broached already. One is The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde, the series opener for Welsh author Jasper Fforde's popular Thursday Next series. I've never read it, but from the descriptions I've gleaned I'd say it would certainly be unique --and an interesting homage to the older British classics, especially Jane Eyre.

Another contemporary British writer that was mentioned was Bernard Cornwell, who's probably the best-known modern British writer of military historical fiction. That's not everyone's cup of tea (and indeed, I haven't read a lot of that sort of thing myself, so it would be an exposure to new ground for me). My Aussie son-in-law has given me the first three volumes of the Starbuck Chronicles, Cornwell's series on the American Civil War (the first book is Rebel (The Starbuck Chronicles, #1) by Bernard Cornwell); but this author is better known for some earlier series, notably his Sharpe novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. So arguably the opener for that series might be a better choice. In the same sub-genre of military (in this case, naval) history, Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) by Patrick O'Brian is the first novel of his highly popular Aubrey/Maturin series. (That's another book in my many sky-high to-read piles. :-) )

In the area of older classics, Great Expectations has been mentioned, along with the authors Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Erskine Childers. The latter is known for his The Riddle of the Sands (1903), a germinal classic in the spy fiction genre. The Braddon book I had in mind was Lady Audley's Secret (1862), which I know at least one member of our group, Rick, has read and really liked. Finally, Agatha Christie needs no introduction. :-) If we have enough mystery mavens in the group, I think Murder on the Orient Express, Murder in Mesopotamia, or Death on the Nile would all be viable choices.

These are just ideas you all can be thinking about between now and next year; and other suggestions are welcome! We don't have to be limited to books I happen to have in my physical to-read piles, either; I'm going into 2013 not bound to any reading commitments right away, so I'll be game to join in a common discussion of any book we choose. As we get closer to the time of the poll, I'd like to narrow our candidates down to no more than six; I think if you have a poll with more choices than that, it can tend to scatter the votes too much, and confuse more than focus. So that's a thought to keep in mind as we brainstorm.

message 3: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments One other thought that might be worth sharing here! In other groups I'm in, if we do a review of a book you've already read, and remember well enough to discuss it intelligently, you don't have to reread it (unless you want to) to take part in the discussion; you can just join in. I'm thinking that ought to be our policy, too. Rereading doesn't always work into everyone's schedule, and we want to make taking part in these discussions as easy as we can.

message 4: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments While we're thinking out loud, I'm going to scratch my suggestion of Cornwell's Rebel. There are so many books on my to-read list which I'm more anxious to read that I've decided to put the Starbuck Chronicles on the back-burner for awhile, and hope my son-in-law won't be too offended!

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Are Australian writers considered British???? Not trying to offend Australians here...but they are part of the Commonwealth so I thought I'd ask before suggesting a book.

message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Hmmm! Good question, Mike. Personally, I've always thought of our focus as being on writers from the British Isles (which has a certain degree of ambiguity in itself). I've never considered Australian or Canadian writers "British," even though the Library of Congress classifies them in PR as "English literature" (along with African, Asian Indian, and West Indian authors writing in English). It seems to me that including writers from the entire Commonwealth would make our focus too diffused. What do the rest of you think about this?

message 7: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments My earlier message to all group members about the poll that's now up (to gauge how much interest there is in doing a common read in February 2013) wasn't phrased as clearly as it could have been. To register your vote, you need to actually visit the poll itself (it's the first one on the Polls page --access by clicking the Polls link below our group logo) and vote there. Everyone's invited to do that, if you haven't already!

If we as a group decide to do the read, I'll plan to put up a poll in January to pick the book we'll read. So you can be thinking about, and discussing, ideas in the meantime.

message 8: by Barbara (last edited Nov 02, 2012 10:40PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 61 comments Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "Are Australian writers considered British???? Not trying to offend Australians here...but they are part of the Commonwealth so I thought I'd ask before suggesting a book."

Absolutely not Mike. 'Part of the Commonwealth' is a political description as far as Australians ( and English people) are concerned and not a cultural or ethnic one.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Okay...check, no Australian authors. Got it.

message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol | 133 comments Not only do I love British authors, but I love books set in England, Scotland or Wales. I read Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge while doing a house exchange in Somerset. To be reading while visiting the area was just fantastic. I have never been in a book club, or read a book in common with other people, but I would like to give it a try. Keep me posted.

message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Will do, Carol! Follow the postings in this thread for updates; and if I post a poll in January, I'll try to send everyone in the group an invitation to vote.

message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol | 133 comments Is there a place where people list their all time favorite books by British authors?

message 13: by Werner (last edited Nov 05, 2012 07:30AM) (new)

Werner | 756 comments Carol, good question! The thread for that is at this link: .

message 14: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Our poll results are in: we have four yes votes for a common read in February, with four more maybes depending on what book is picked (and no outright nays!). The core support for the idea should be enough to generate good discussion. So, we'll do our group's first common read in February 2013!

Of course, the next step is picking a book. We can do that in a poll in January; but we need to decide what titles will be on the poll (preferably no more than six). So for that, I'm thinking that we can use this month to brainstorm here. I threw out a few suggestions in message 2 that are still viable; but we don't have to include all (or any) of them. It would be nice to have ideas from more than one person, IMO!

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments I'm just starting Fated Fated (Alex Verus, #1) by Benedict Jacka and it seems pretty good...

message 16: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Mike, are you nominating that one for the common read?

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Sure. I guess I was a bit oblique...sorry.

message 18: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Okay, Mike, we'll add that to our list of possibles!

message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Back in message 2, I mentioned three Agatha Christie mysteries: Murder on the Orient Express, Murder in Mesopotamia, and Death on the Nile. As a rule, though, I think it's best not to have more than one work by the same author in one poll. If we include a selection by Christie in the upcoming poll, does anyone have a preference among these three? (Or would anyone prefer to see a totally different Christie title included?)

message 20: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments So far, our suggested titles are: Charles Dickens' Great Expectations; Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret; Fated (see message 15); Erskine Childer's The Riddle of the Sands; Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair; Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander; or something (not yet definitely nailed down :-) ) by Dame Agatha Christie. That's seven possibilities, a bit more than ideal for a poll. To winnow it down somewhat, are any of those seven absolute deal breakers for anybody? That is, is one or more of them something you wouldn't want to read even if the group picked it? Participation will be voluntary; but we want to have as many willing prticipants as possible!

message 21: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Well, so far nobody's voiced any hate for any of the seven titles above. :-) I'm going to suggest that we strike Lady Audley's Secret from the list (even though I know one of our members, Rick, really likes it). Both that one and Great Expectations are Victorian novels; we probably don't need two of these competing against each other, in a list that otherwise has more variety, and I'm thinking that Dickens is the better-known writer who'd draw more participation. (If the poll were open right now, Great Expectations is the choice that would get my vote!)

Also, I'm going to suggest that the Christie title we put on the poll be Murder on the Orient Express. That one seems to be her best known title, so I'm guessing it would evoke the most interest.

message 22: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments When I posted message 2, I'd forgotten that I'd already donated The Riddle of the Sands (as well as Lady Audley's Secret) to the library where I work, in an effort to reduce my physical to-read piles a bit! (They're still in the workroom awaiting cataloging and processing.) So, I'm going to take back my suggestion of that title. That leaves us, at the moment, with five suggestions for the poll. If that's the list everyone wants to go with, I'd say that would be fine.

message 23: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Our poll developed into a battle between Fated, the first book in Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series, and Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Now that the results are in, the former has edged the latter, four votes to three, with each of our other nominees getting one vote apiece. So, Fated will be our group's very first common read (participation will be strictly voluntary, of course!) and we'll start on Feb. 1. (If you need to start a bit later, that's fine too; we'll be discussing it all through February.)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments I found it an exceptionally good read and can recommend it.

message 25: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Mike, if you thought it was bad and didn't recommend it, we'd be mad at you, since you nominated it for the poll! :-) It'll be my first experience with Jacka's work; your recommendation has me looking forward to it. (You know I'm into the supernatural stuff! :-) ) We'll count on you to chime in with your comments and insights as we discuss it.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments I'm reading the second in the series right now...but apparently that fact I'd recommended it slipped my mind. Maybe I'm getting old????

What was I saying?

message 27: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Calling all common read participants --major breaking news!

Earlier today, I discovered that we have a potential problem with Fated as a common read selection. It was published in 2012. That means in most libraries, it's going to be a pretty new addition to the collection; and a lot of libraries (not all, but many) have a policy against letting their new books go out as interlibrary loans. So myself and other readers who'd planned to depend on ILL to get a copy of the book might have real trouble getting hold of it. I'd hate for anybody to be excluded from the common read for that reason.

If I'd checked on this when the book was first suggested, this problem wouldn't have arisen, and I apologize to the group for being asleep at the switch! As a librarian, I'm well aware of library practice on that point; but because I knew there was a second book in the series already out, I assumed this one was older than it is. But I know the breakdown of the word "assume," and should certainly not have taken that for granted. :-(

I'd like to offer a suggestion --and it's only that!--that might solve the problem. Murder on the Orient Express placed second in the poll, only one vote behind Fated. If the rest of you are okay with the idea, we could do a common read of the Christie book next month, and then do Fated in February of 2014, when it won't be so new (I was actually hoping to do a common read next year, too). What do you all think? Will that idea work for everybody?

message 28: by Werner (last edited Jan 25, 2013 03:20PM) (new)

Werner | 756 comments One person has already started reading Fated, so I hate to backtrack and un-schedule it now! A better idea just hit me a moment ago. What would you all think of offering a choice of two alternate selections for the common read this time, Fated and Murder on the Orient Express, and setting up a discussion thread for each one?

message 29: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jan 25, 2013 12:38PM) (new)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Murder on the Orient Express isn't my "cup of tea" (and ironically I am a tea drinker, LOL), but I like Fated a great deal. I have the paperback (and the paperback of all the others of the series out so far). I'll comment on that one when the discussion starts.

message 30: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Mike, knowing that you've already read Fated, I was counting on you to provide some insights there! We have some other folks in the group whose tastes are just the opposite, so perhaps offering the alternate selection will increase our overall participation. Of course, I like both supernatural fiction and mysteries; so assuming the group's okay with this idea, I'll opt for the Christie book myself, to reduce competition for the other book. I'm already a Christie fan (and an herbal tea drinker :-) ).

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Prefer traditional black tea myself, though I have a cinnamon black tea I like...of course a stick of cinnamon can just be dropped into a cup of tea.

message 32: by LeAnn (new)

LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments I'm a big black tea fan -- I can't recall having cinnamon black tea, but I think that I'd like it.

I'm not sure if Murder on the Orient Express is my cup of tea, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

message 33: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Christie's Miss Jane Marple was a traditional black tea drinker, and not at all impressed by the American-influenced vogue of brewing it with tea bags. :-) ("Americans," she observes in one of the PBS Mystery! adaptations, "have a great deal to answer for!") I don't know how she'd feel about putting cinnamon in it, but it sounds good to me! :-)

message 34: by LeAnn (new)

LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments I haven't visited Britain (yet, though plans are in the works), but I've been to Scotland and Ireland where my tea-drinking heart was overjoyed that black tea was served as a matter of course with breakfast and decent tea (with biscuits) was included in the hotel room. I've also had Scottish breakfast tea, which is nothing a coffee drinker could sneer at.

Oh, well, now I want a scone with clotted cream and jam.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments I drink both Irish and English breakfast tea on occasion, but I also like blends. I'm planning an order from Teavana soon.

message 36: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments LeAnn, if I wasn't already eating my supper at the computer table, you'd be making me hungry! :-)

message 37: by LeAnn (new)

LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments Mike, have you heard of a company called the Upton Tea Company? It's local to the area I live in and a lot of serious tea drinkers swear by it. A friend gave me a sampler of their loose tea a few years ago.

Werner, I haven't eaten yet (my husband is finishing grilling steaks), so scones and clotted cream sound fabulous right now. Maybe those of us who read Christie's work can have a virtual tea party. Or just have one for the group regardless of which book we read.

message 38: by Werner (new)

Werner | 756 comments Sounds good to me, LeAnn! Virtual scones don't have calories and cholesterol. :-)

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments ...I usually just have vanilla Oreos or Vienna Fingers or something. After all when our UK cousins say biscuit they mean cookie.

No I hadn't heard of Upton Tea Company. I just went to their Web sight. Thanks.

message 40: by LeAnn (new)

LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments Mike, let me know if you try something from the Upton Tea Company.

And, yes, biscuits are cookies ... although I tend to think "shortbread" for some reason. Oh, I actually have some of that ....

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments May try it next time I order. I'm already planning an order...and for finical reasons I don't do one that often LOL (though we have a Tevana store here in Nashville so if I feel like fighting the traffic in Green Hills I can drive over). I bookmarked the Upton Tea page.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Werner, I'll wait for you to open a thread on Fated, but I'm cool with the way you plan to go. I like fated and while I'm always overloaded on reads (as I've said I have no will power so I'm always trying to get to more and more books. LOL) I've read the first 2 in Jacka's series and have the third I'll take part in the Fated discussion and see if anyone else is interested.

message 43: by LeAnn (new)

LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments I've already finished Fated. There's a quote from Jim Butcher on the cover. A friend has recommended The Dresden Files to me ... how does that series compare?

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments I'm a huge fan of the Dresden books. That's how I found these, Butcher's recommendation. I have tried to find other books I like as well as the Dresden books. I'd rate Dresden #1 among Urban Fantasy books (my choice of course) and Jacka #2 among all I've read. I'd say if you like Jacka you'll like Butcher. the first is Storm Front and I'll also say that while that book hooked me in and I gave it a 5 star rating, about the third or forth book in the series I think they get even better.

message 45: by Werner (last edited Jan 29, 2013 09:54AM) (new)

Werner | 756 comments I'll try to get a thread up for Fated this Friday, Mike. (Looking forward to following that discussion!)

I've got Storm Front in one of my (several) physical to-read piles in my office bookcase. Maybe I'll get to read it this fall, if things pan out the way I hope!

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Been there...well actually, constantly there. :)

message 47: by LeAnn (new)

LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments Thanks, Mike. I did like Jacka, so I'm really looking forward to reading Butcher.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments I can post a link to my review(s) if you want, but I do recommend them.

message 49: by LeAnn (new)

LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments Thanks, Mike, I took a look at your first review. I'm actually very excited to try this series out. I trust my friend's judgment and from what I've gleaned about your tastes, I now have a whole bunch of books to enjoy.

Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 122 comments Awww, now I'm blushing...

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