Our East London Book Club celebrated its 50th consecutive month last week, so we decided to ask its host, Susannah, to tell us a bit more about it for all the members who would like to join.
Written by the host, Susannah Cartwright
Photo credits: Susannah Cartwright
The seeds of the East London Book Group were sewn when my childhood friend Clancy took me to see the legendary Ska band The Selector in November 2010. It was a great gig at the Bloomsbury Ballroom and it was at this venue that I met Clancy’s friend Sara, who had recently opened a pub, The Oliver Conquest, with her partner Matt. I had been searching for an ideal venue to host a book club, so they invited me to check out the O.C. The Oliver Conquest is the pub of my dreams; a public house equivalent of the 70s iconic shop Biba, lush dark wood interior adorned with pretty fairy lights. From the outset I knew this would be the perfect pub, and so the East London Book Group was born.
My ethos for the book group is reading for the joy of reading and chatting about the books for the joy of a good old chin wag about what we have read. I love the contrast of indulging in a good cosy read followed by a fabulous social in which we meet, have a drink and get down to dissect the book.
To get the first month of the group started I’d asked everyone to compile a list of their favourite books. This helped to kickstart the process by which every month each attendee suggests a book to read and then we vote to decide the winner. We have developed a loyal following of regulars, some who have never missed a single one of the 50 consecutive monthly socials. Even some folk who have moved out of London still wish to be updated on the current read, sometimes making occasional trips back to the East London book group.
We have had some very divided opinions on the books we’ve read; always in the spirit of friendly banter and a keen interest in each other’s thoughts, ideas and viewpoints. I recently asked members what attracted them to the book group. Responses were varied and insightful. They said it was for the sheer enjoyment of the debate about the book, hearing others opinions that may conflict with their own, to enjoy a book they may never have considered reading, or to expand the scope of genres they had limited themselves to. For others the clincher was simply to be given a reason to read more.
The East London Book Group’s monthly meetings are both a place for serious debate and also a lot of fun. It is such a pleasure running the book group, having met hundreds of interesting people from all walks of life; I have made some lovely friends along the way too. As for our home, the great OC, it has retained the warm, comfortable atmosphere that I enjoyed upon my first visit. It has however recently developed a reputation as one of London’s foremost Gin palaces, offering a selection of 100s of divinely decadent gins. Such is their dedication to the gin cause that they have created their own bespoke gin, appropriately entitled the O.C Gin! So thank you all at citysocializer, thank you Sara, Matt, Ellaguru, Rexy and everyone else at The OC and thank you to all of our current and future East London Book Group members.
Our next Book Group meeting is on Monday July 6th, at The Oliver Conquest, 70 Leman Street E1. You can come over from 7pm and we will start properly at 7.30pm. The book we are reading for it will be Birdsong by Sebastian Fauks. Looking forward to meeting you soon!
And if you were wondering about the 50 books we’ve read so far, here they are.
How many have you read?
1. Ordinary People by William Boyd
2. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
3. Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi
4. Solar by Ian McEwan
5. Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk
6. Noah’s compass by Anne Tyler
7. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
8. Women in love by DH Lawrence
9. The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
10. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
11. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
12. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
13. The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
14. Something New by PG Wodehouse
15. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
16. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
17. Breakfast at Tiffanys by Truman Capote
18. Jude The Obscure by Thomas Hardy
19. Mill on the floss by George Elliott
20. A Handful of dust by Evelyn Ward
21. Girl in White by Sue Hubbard
22. Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle
23. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Dangling Man by Saul Bellow
25. Border Crossing by Pat Parker
26. The Tale of two cities by Charles Dickens
27. Drown by Junot Diaz
28. And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini
29. Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell
30. Severed Head by Iris Murdoch
31. The last one hundred days by Patrick Mcguinness
32. A christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
33. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
34. A hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
35. An Artist of the floating world by Kazuo Ishiguro
36. Tales of the city by Armistead Maupin
37. A hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
38. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
39. Washington Square by Henry James
40. The Goldfinch by donna Tartt
41. Stoner by John Williams
42. The End of the affair by Graham Greene
43. Diary of a nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
44. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
45. Money by Martin Amis
46. Suspended sentences by Patrick Modiano
47. We are all completely besides ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
48. In cold blood by Truman Capote
49. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
50. How to be both by Ali Smith