For Christmas one of the gifts I got for the man who puts up with me was a book club. I chose a book to begin the year, and made a leaflet to go with it, explaining the ‘rules’ of our exclusive book club; we’ll take turns through the year to choose one book a month, and read it at the same time, and talk about it, talk about what we liked and didn’t, try new genres that we don’t ordinarily read, try out new authors, expand beyond the ‘reading rut’ we both found ourselves in.
Reading is something that I’ve always taken enormous pleasure in. Until I started talking about, and sharing, books with him I had let reading slide out of my life. I hadn’t realised how little I’d been reading, and how much I’d been missing it, until we were talking about favourite books one day. He’ll never forgive me for making him read ‘A prayer for Owen Meany’ – a John Irving book that I maintain is truly excellent, but which he absolutely detested – and the debates we had about it sparked the idea for the book club, because we laughed so much and got into such heated conversations, and it reignited my passion for reading.
In the last few months of my marriage, and once it had ended, I wasn’t reading at all; this is very unusual for me, someone who often has half a dozen books on the go at the same time, depending on what room I’m in, and who used to drive teachers, parents, friends and bosses mad because I’d drift off mid-conversation or task and be found reading somewhere when I shouldn’t be. (A trait I see in my own children, particularly Jellybean who, at seven, has to have torches and books removed from his bed an hour after bedtime most evenings!) and though life had settled down I struggled to get my reading mojo back.
But that Owen Meany conversation was the beginning of a rejuvenation, and since then I’ve found myself back in the swing of obsessively devouring books a handful at a time – aided by the man who puts up with me getting me a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday – which I still think was more a gift for him than for me, because I can read in bed without the lamp on and he can go to sleep like a normal human while I “just finish one more paragraph/page/chapter…” – I almost always fall asleep reading and now the Kindle will just quietly turn itself off, and there’s no lamp blaring all night disturbing anyone’s beauty sleep!
So the world’s most exclusive book club was born – and I had first choice. The book I picked for January was way outside my usual go-to genres of fantasy or historical fiction, and I opted for Gregg Hurwitz’s thriller, Orphan X – and couldn’t put it down.
The first in what’s going to be a series, Warner Bros. are looking to buy the movie rights and are looking to cast Bradley Cooper as ‘Orphan X’ Even Smoak, aka ‘the nowhere man’ – and I can see why they’re so keen. Smoak is a very humane assassin, trained since childhood, who gets caught up in a series of ever more dangerous attempts on the life of his latest client, and on himself, breaking down his barriers and encroaching on the secret identity he’s built, leaving him wondering who he can and can’t trust. There are twists and turns, drama and heartache, real emotion on a level you wouldn’t ordinarily see in a character who is trained as a ruthless killing machine, and it’s a story with a lot of depth and excitement.
The next book in the series is out at the end of this month, and we’ve already discussed whether it should be February’s book club choice – but I thought that would make it too easy for him to choose so vetoed it simply to make his life more complicated! I’m nice like that…
But I have another five months of this year to choose book club books for – and a lot of time between them to cram with anything else I can get my grubby hands on to – so I’m looking for recommendations for the books you love most, the books you’ve read most recently, the authors you can’t wait to hear more from, and anything else you want to wave at other people, yelling “read this, read this, read this!”
Comment below with your top recommendations – and get a copy of Orphan X as soon as you can, trust me!