Bookshare reads

Bee’s Bookshare’s bookshelf: read

Bee's Bookshare 24 members

See the books we’ve shared at Bee’s Bookshare book group in Margate and Deal in Kent. beesbooknoo…

Books we’ve read

The Wasp Factory
A Short History of Nearly Everything
An Edible History of Humanity
White Teeth
The Wasted Vigil
The Last Kingdom
The Snowman
The Icarus Agenda
Bring Up the Bodies
Wolf Hall
Never Let Me Go
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter, 1979-1997
A Year in the Merde
In High Places
Carte Blanche

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Summer lovin’ of reading

I lasted just 200 pages with Dan Brown’s Inferno. As the summer hotted up my taste for thrillers cooled down and having been swept up by the social media whirlwind that surrounded Stoner by John Williams I swung into some non-stop summer reading.

Described by Vintage books as a ‘forgotten classic’, Stoner is about an American Professor William Stoner and his rather ordinary life. And it’s this ordinary element that enraptured me. Nothing much happened apart from a loveless marriage and a man growing older and succumbing to the disappointments of ordinary life. But it was Williams’s writing that made me read this in just a few days. I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those reads that you can’t quite describe because you’re drawn in and you can’t quite fathom why. It’s a marmite book – you either love it or hate it, but I recommend that you give it a try.

Following on from a rather reflection-inducing read was another, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I’d been wanting to read this for years, I got the impression from various reviews and by word of mouth that it was going to be compelling, moving and worth the wait. And plot and story-wise it was.


But the inventive, breath-gasping literary sensation I’d built up in my head didn’t live up to my somewhat misplaced and misjudged expectation. There’s no doubting that any novel based on the First World War is going to tug at some heartstrings, bring painfully into the present the searingly tragic events that took place nearly a century ago. It was a strange read.

As we often say at bookshare, you have to feel something for the main character(s) to really be taken by a book.

And I disliked Stephen from the off.

For his nonchalance, lack of empathy, ease at tossing loved ones aside and his own misplaced expectation of life. But in the last third of the book, as he’s trapped underground in a tunnel, his fellow fighter having died beside him, hanging onto to dear life, I was there, I was with him, I could feel him breathe, his anxiety, his apathy.

So whilst the writing was not the literary sensation I was hoping to devour, the subject caught me, it made me think about the role my own ancestors may have played in WWI and it made me grateful they fought, and the legacy we can give them is just to never forget.

I read Birdsong at a time of personal sadness, with the passing of my last remaining grandparent and all the thoughts and feelings that brings. Having finished Birdsong and not wishing to deepen the sadness, I turned to a book that’s raucously colourful cover had grabbed me in my local secondhand bookshop, and which now promised a lighter, cheerier tone. With a cover so bright, the story inside must be too, right?


The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga did not disappoint, by page two I was chuckling.

“It is an ancient and venerated custom of people in my country to start a story by praying to a Higher Power.
“I guess, Your Excellency, that I too should start off by kissing some god’s arse.
“Which god’s arse, though? There are so many choices.
“See, the Muslims have one god.
“The Christians have three gods.
“And we Hindus have 36,000,004 divine arses to choose from.”

Brilliant, vibrantly written, Adiga brings the colour of India to life. He uses the humourous voice of Balram – a boy, I mean ‘The White Tiger’, to peel back the truth of India’s underbelly. The White Tiger seeks to better himself in a rather unsavoury fashion. The side-splitting humour that litters the first half of the book calms throughout the second, making way for the serious, disturbing reality to seep through to the surface of the novel. Whenever I’m engrossed and enjoying a book, I always find the end evaporates into a semi-silent ‘pffffff’ – testament that I don’t want the book to end. And this is such book. Read it, devour it, consider it.

The colour soon faded as I embarked on re-reading A Child in Time by Ian McEwan.

McEwan's A Child in Time took on a whole new meaning, through the passage of time

McEwan’s A Child in Time took on a whole new meaning, through the passage of time

I first read this 14 years ago when I was studying A level English literature. I disliked the language, the depressing tone and felt no empathy for the characters. I’d seen McEwan give a lecture and thought he was pompous. So for years (17 in fact) I swore I’d never read a McEwan book again. That was until one of our book sharers David read and reviewed it, and kindly lent me his copy.

We’d talked about how the books you’re ‘made’ to read at school can make you love or loathe a genre/author and this was a classic case of the latter for me. But I’m so glad I tried again as where I found his writing over complicated aged 17, I now found it moving and compelling, with an interesting writing style that drew me in and held me till the end. Where I had no concept of the subject matter as a teenager, it now resonated strongly and the powerful complicated nature of relationships which were expertly weaved. McEwan is affecting.

I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed reading this again, and rather fittingly the whole book centred around the perception and passage of time, and this for me has been a case in point… it’s worth allowing time to pass before tackling a school read again, but that you really must try again – the passage of time can bring a whole new enjoyment to a book. Thanks to David for sharing it with me. I may very well try another McEwan sometime, but given how much this author ‘affects’ me I may very well let a good few years go by before I do.

And as the summer draws to a close, I’m setting my sights on a classic autumn, having already raced through George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, and embarking on Leo Tolstoy’s epic Anna Karenina on my new e-reader… the summer may be drawing to a close, but my love of reading is still spring-like.

The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum

Hot on the heels of Robert Harris’s Fatherland, I took advantage of my rare dip into the thriller genre and moved swiftly onto another Nazi crime story, by another Robert… The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum.


Ludlum is best known for his Bourne series, which are possibly more famous as the trilogy of films featuring Matt Damon.

I’d barely finished Harris’s Nazi escapade before I got stuck into Ludlum’s book. Brought along to Bee’s bookshare by Steve, who was also the sharer of Fatherland (thanks Steve!). I couldn’t resist diving in as the plot sounded so intriguing….

Noel Holcroft, an architect living his normal architect’s life in New York, is summoned by Zurich financier Manfredi. Intrigued but also on the defensive, Holcroft meets the stranger, who tells him that his estranged father was the financial leader of the Nazi party. And that Holcroft and the eldest children of two other Nazi leaders are the heirs to a covenant that will unlock a £780 million fortune, squirrelled away by the leaders. When the Third Reich was at its height, the leaders discovered the true horrors of the regime, so set in motion a plan to bypass millions of pounds that would one day be passed on to their children, who in turn would give the money to the descendants of the Jews who had been so callously exterminated, in an attempt to rectify the Nazis wrongdoings.

Despite initial hesitation, Noel’s realisation that ‘nothing is as it was’ fuels his compulsion to find the other children of the Third Reich and honour the covenant. But everywhere he turns and every move he makes leaves a trail of death and destruction… and much like the idea of the covenant itself, the events that unfold become more incredible, more dangerous and fraught with the discovery that nothing is as it was but also that nothing is as it seems. 

I leapt gallantly into this 500 page hardback 1978 novel, drawn in by its promising dark story line and its wonderful scent of pages that have aged with the passage of time (the book itself is older than I am!).

I romped right through to page 180 without pause. But soon after I was struck with enduring several chapters of lazy writing, a crime step-by-step… I’m no thriller aficionado but I do like to work some things out for myself, and I was teetering on giving up on what had appeared to be a gritty thriller.

But a long train journey, a beautiful summer’s eve and some dedicated reading time helped me get hooked right back in. It’s not the best book I’ve read, it’s not the most chilling story – Fatherland is superior in my opinion – but once you start, you won’t be able to put it down, as you have to know how the story pans out – do the Jews get the money?  And what happens to Holcroft? Is his life change forever? And can there ever be penance for such atrocities?


If you can excuse some superfluous romantic slush half way through where Holcroft falls in love rather quickly and needlessly with a fellow ‘damned’ child then do power through, it’s worth it.

Goodreaders say it’s his best book. It may well be. But I’m happy leaving it there. I’ve no intention to read another by him, unlike Robert Harris’s other books, which are now on my to-read list. The Holcroft Covenant is a solid 3/5 – it didn’t blow me away but it did grip me once I’d put the effort in.

And now to complete my summer thriller trio – Dan Brown’s Inferno (with yet another Robert) – let’s hope there’s no slushy love story there. Oops I forgot it’s a pageturner… of course there will be.

Fatherland by Robert Harris

Fatherland intrigued me as soon as it was brought to Bee’s bookshare. A novel set in 1964, in an alternative time if Hitler and his Nazi party had won WWII. Fascinating.

photo (12)

You can tell from the cover it’s going to be a thriller – the foreboding black and red, the Nazi eagle…  I don’t read thrillers often, but when I do I like them to be fast-paced page turners. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Published in 1992, the book’s been out for a fair while, and if Wikipedia is anything to go by has sold over 3 million copies and been translated into 25 languages. Can you detect that the hysteria around Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code had also engulfed Harris’s novel a decade earlier? I imagine so.

From the first page I was hooked. Harris convincingly sets the scene, which he does so throughout the book, of a changed world. Germania reigns supreme, with a new Berlin as the epicentre. The city’s been flattened and rebuilt with gigantic austere Reich buildings. Everything is organised, scrutinised, cleansed and sanitised so that there is no question of how things are done – the Nazi way. There’s an Orwellian undertone, which is evident but not sycophantic.

Detective Xavier March is called to investigate a body that has been found washed up by a lake on the outskirts of Berlin. You immediately warm to cranky March – who in my head was much like Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – he’s someone who’s succumbed to the system but whose unwavering humane core refuses to let him just follow the party line.

Just by trying to solve the simple case of the body found in the lake, March goes on a nail-biting trail that leads him to discover a raft of wartime corruption.

And it’s this that we’re really following – the story of human nature, our quest for truth and the perils of our curiosity. I was swept along by Harris, completely compelled by his characters and plot. I just couldn’t put the book down.

But now that I’ve finished the book, it’s still haunting me. That’s not just because it was a fast-paced devourable read. It’s because the most chilling element of Fatherland, the thing that you really can’t shake off, is that the crime at the heart of the Nazi party March uncovers is no fiction. The mass murder of the Jews happened. Millions of people were destroyed. Families were killed off. Human nature revealed it’s very darkest side. And it’s legacy… it’s legacy so very nearly existed. Harris’s world could have easily been the world we live in today. It’s a story line that even the very best writer would struggle to create. Now that’s a sobering thought.

‘You can’t build on a mass grave. Human beings are better than that – they have to be better than that – I do believe it – don’t you? He did not reply.’ 

You can read a review of Guardian book club review of Fatherland here.

Watch the 1994 TV dramatisation of the book here.

I’ve now started on this – another book share spoil – which I thought would be a good follow on from Fatherland. And satisfy my dose of thrillers for the year!

The next thriller...

The next thriller…

The ‘Great’ Gatsby


The Great Gatsby. Courtesy Warner Bros 2013

“Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope”  F. Scott Fitzgerald declares in The Great Gatsby.

I read Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, often revered as one of the greatest works of American literature, about two years ago. Full of reserved judgement and excitement at what fellow readers had promised was a masterpiece evoking a splendidly lavish era, I delved in.


Then became thankful it was such a short novel. I was underwhelmed. Was it the sinister undertones that unnerved me, irritating lead female Daisy that repulsed me, or the feeling that it felt like a  non-story? I don’t know. I suspect it’s more to do with the hype that surrounds ‘classic’ books. Everything you’ve read/heard about them ends up infiltrating your own judgement. Your pre-conceived notions of what a book is about can really affect your enjoyment of it. Last year I attempted to re-read Jane Eyre for the first time since school, but could only manage half the book, despite the great story and protagonist, simply because I knew what happened.

(I am also that person that thought The Talented Mr Ripley was a comedic story about an impersonator. It was only when Ripley violently bashed Dickie’s head in with the oar of a boat that, in a state of shock, I realised I’d totally misjudged the plot.)

That’s where TV and film adaptations sometimes ruin the experience of a story, which was originally intended to be read not watched (as well as your own misconceptions of course). Why read the book/watch the film if you know what happens? It’s an interesting debate – book v film. Can you enjoy both equally?

Well, a few of us from Bee’s Bookshare put it to the test by going to see Baz Lurhmann’s new film Gatsby inspired by the novel at the wonderful Carlton Cinema in Westgate (unbelievable value at just £2.50 week days / £3.50 at weekends, with new digital screens, sound and very comfortable seats with plenty of leg room). Many sharers had, unlike me, enjoyed the novel, for some it was listed in their top ever reads.


Described by Warner Bros as “following Fitzgerald-like”, I was hoping that the film would unlock something in the story that would change my mind.

In case you don’t know the story… aspiring bond salesman Nick Carraway moves to Long Island to make his name in the New York banking word. He lives next door to the mysterious and absurdly rich Jay Gatsby, who hosts lavish decadent parties. One day he’s invited to one of the parties, and Gatsby who is hardly ever seen, befriends him. It turns out Gatsby was a past lover of Nick’s cousin Daisy. But beautiful Daisy is married to Tom, who unlike Gatsby inherited his millions. The plot follows Gatsby’s attempts to win Daisy back, which he mistakenly assumes can be bought through his new wealth, and which results in devastating consequences.

Lurhmann’s penchant for fast-moving, hyper-real vibrant cinematography (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) is at its height in Gatsby. The only way I can describe the film is that it’s like riding a roller coaster – it exhilarates you, whizzes you around, assaults your senses, then once your stomach is in your mouth, pummels you into a vertical drop and your stomach is flung quickly to your feet.

The Great Gatsby. Courtesy Warner Bros 2013

The Great Gatsby. Courtesy Warner Bros 2013
“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The acting is superb, with a brilliant cast – Leonardo di Caprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Isla Fisher and Joel Edgerton. The music is pretty dubious (was it really necessary to blare out Alicia Keys’s New York as they drove over the Brooklyn Bridge?) but it all adds to the exhilaration of the first half of the film.

It was a really enjoyable evening, and I liked the film in a 3 out of 5 kind of way. But if I was looking for it to inspire me to re-read the novel I was disappointed and again underwhelmed with the story. The sinister and chilling undertones were definitely masterfully conveyed by the gorgeous di Caprio, who encapsulated everything you’d expect Gatsby to be – dapper and dandy, child-like in his belief money buys anything, and an obsessive loner.

And maybe that’s why I can’t get on with the novel… at book share we often say that if you don’t believe in/like/are intrigued by the main characters in a book you don’t tend to enjoy the story. And Gatsby disappoints me, because his greed and superficiality is masked by his supposed love for Daisy.

But I guess that’s the point isn’t it – it’s a comment on the perils of ‘the American Dream’, on man’s seemingly endless greed, inherited or not, and what lengths people will go to to keep themselves rich. The concept repulses me. But I’m still thinking about it a week later, which shows that the story isn’t forgettable, even if you don’t come under its spell.

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…” … and reach out to grab another book!

Gatsby didn’t cause me to ponder too much on the book v film debate as I didn’t love one nor the other, it was just a classic case of when the hype becomes the story.

Gatsby quote. Courtesy

Gatsby quote. Courtesy

Book v film

Book first film second, vice versa, never, or both?

Tell us what you think at #beesbookshare

What our book sharers thought of Gatsby
“Watching The Great Gatsby is like being force fed candy floss and then being made to ride the dodgems for two hours but being allowed to stop every now and then for someone to throw fridge magnet poetry at you.” Nick

See The Great Gatsby discussion on Goodreads >

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake review

Since late last year I’ve had a growing fascination about the Second World War. I can’t quite place why but as Cameron’s austerity measures continue to make headlines and the threat of privatising the NHS (which was founded in post-war Britain in 1948) gets closer to becoming a reality, it’s made me ponder about how life must have been during and after the war.

In Margate where I live there’s a blossoming vintage and retro scene and all things 1940s are sought after and heralded as coming from a better time where values and morals counted and quality and workmanship reigned supreme (which baffles me a little as the hardship faced and the very real effects of severe austerity during this time are all too well-known).

And I suppose, as I’m now in my thirties and seeing my last remaining grandparent get frailer and ever closer to passing away, I think more about my ancestry and my grandparents’ lives, especially that of my granddad who died when I was 4 and was held as a prisoner of war in Malta during WWII, and who’s friend got shot standing right next to him and is my father’s namesake.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

So it was no surprise that sooner rather than later I was going to read a novel set in war time. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake is described by Kathryn Scott, author of The Help (which I loved) as

A beautifully written, thought provoking novel that I’m telling everyone I know to read

The blurb on the back of the book is as follows…

The wireless crackles with news of blitzed-out London and of the war that courses through Europe, leaving destruction in its wake. Listening intently on the other side of the Atlantic, newly-wed Emma considers the fragility of her peaceful married life as America edges closer to the brink of war. As the reporter’s distant voice fills the room, she sits convincing herself that the sleepy town of Franklin must be far beyond the war’s reach.

But the life of American journalist Frankie, whose voice seems so remote, will soon be deeply entangled with her own. With the delivery of a letter into the hands of postmistress Iris, the fates of these three women become irrevocably linked. But while it remains unopened, can Iris keep its truth at bay?

With this blurb and the chick lit-esque front cover, I wasn’t expecting much. It took quite a while for me to get used to Blake’s writing style. I never normally notice what nationality an author is but her writing made me consider the differences between British and American writers. To which I concluded that in fact, Blake just has a strange writing style, to me anyway.

But thankfully by about page 100 I got really into the story. I loved the idea of Frankie Bard the brave reporter  who wanted to discover what was really happening to the Jews and who had left home and country to be right on the front line of news. But Emma and Iris just never took hold of me, and I found them quite sappy and mopey. I could have easily just read about Frankie’s experiences and the middle part of the book is by far the best.

It was grittier than I was expecting, but there were some sentences that were plainly repeated from earlier passages in the book and towards the end you discovered that the American term for postmistress was in fact not gender specific and rather postmaster, which infuriated me a little as Iris was American and her part of the story was about her experiences in America.

All in all I gave this book a 3 out of 5, but I think I was feeling generous and it was purely because at some points I got totally absorbed in Frankie’s tale. But I was hurrying to finish the book so that I could start another, which is never a good sign…

So onto the next – Robert Harris’s Fatherland – a post-war thriller that looks at life in the 1960s, if the Nazis and Hitler had won. I hope I’m not being a glutton for war crime punishment.

World Book Night party!

Our Bee’s Bookshare World Book Night party on 23 April was a tip top evening. We had the most people ever at our bookshare (28!), with lots of new people. Not only did the super talented artist Nick Morley give a fascinating talk about his linocut book illustrations, we had a book quiz (well done team Page Turners on your excellent booky knowledge and who won a stash of books), shared lots of books and all received our World Book Night book The Road Home by Rose Tremain to read then share with others, as well as special celebratory bookmarks designed by Zoe Murphy.

The annual World Book Night celebration encourages readers to inspire others to read regularly. Which is exactly what we’re planning to do. We have 20 copies to pass on so keep your eyes peeled for places where we’ll be leaving ours – bus stops, community centres, parks, hospitals… everywhere and anywhere.

The Road Home is a moving novel about the immigrant journey from Eastern Europe to London and what it is that home really means. Lev is seeking work in Britain. Behind him loom the figures of his dead wife and beloved young daughter and his outrageous friend Rudi. For Lev, Britain is strange, but London holds an allure and a promise that he can make money to send home and improve his family’s lot.

The book delves into some uncomfortable truths about human behaviour and attitudes as well as human survival, dreams and belonging. I wasn’t expecting to like the book, which we chose because the subject matter connected to Thanet, which has its own strong immigrant community, I was worried that it would be full of clichés and wouldn’t be very objective.

But I was gripped from the start. Lev isn’t always a nice character and he doesn’t always act nicely, but he’s intriguing and puzzling, which left me yearning to discover how he fared in a strange new country.

This is a sensitive story about identity, our modern world, and the meaning of home. It’s hard hitting without being unreadable and enjoyable without being too heavy (although I’m still pondering on it, days after finishing it – a sign of a good book). Tremain’s writing has a subtle way of drawing you in and grabbing hold of you, without you really noticing it.

I’m planning to share my copy with Pilgrim’s Hospice. I’m going to offer to read to some of the elder folk at the QEQM hospital, who may not be able to still read to themselves, and thought this could be a good way to share the book but also re-engage them with reading, without too much effort on their part. I’ll let you know how I get on.

We also had other other World Book Night givers share their books with us – Ray’s A Little History of the World, and a Fort’s customer who brought Red Dust Road all the way from Dorset for us!

You can find copies of The Road Home in your local library, or if you would like to read one of our World Book Night copies, email me at
Next Fort’s Book Share is on Thursday 30 May 7.30pm

@beesbookshare #fortsbookshare

Author Rose Tremain on World Book Night

“Lev, the protagonist of THE ROAD HOME, (my novel chosen to join the list of World Book Night titles), has read very few books in his arduous life as a sawmill worker in eastern Europe.  When he comes to England, he’s given a copy of Hamlet by his friend Lydia, whose pedagogical instincts dictate that she work to ‘improve’ his mind.  Hamlet is of course way too difficult for a man who has difficulty distinguishing ‘to be or not to be’ from ‘B & B’, but he struggles on with it and eventually finds some affinity with the anguished prince of Denmark.  The reading plays a part in opening up and transforming Lev’s life.  And this we know from voices around the world: books can transform lives.  So let’s hope World Book Night will act as a kind of benign Ponzi scheme for the mighty word.”

World Book Night 2013

World Book Night takes place on 23 April.

Set up in 2011, it’s a huge celebration of books and reading, with the aim to spread the love of reading and give adults who don’t regularly read the chance to, through a free book initiative.

I used the initiative to start Bee’s Bookshare – as one of the 20,000 volunteers, I gave out free copies of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief to people who came to the first share. They then shared the book with someone they know who doesn’t often read books (you can track the books’ journey online at The initiative has had an incredible response, with some terrific stories – visit to read some of them.

In Thanet, Bee’s Book Share has exchanged over 100 books. The idea of the group is that you bring a book you’ve liked, loved or loathed and share it with someone else, in return for a book. But we’re an enthusiastic lot and often bring about 3 books and take away 5. Needless to say the bookshelves are bowing!

Bee's bowing bookshelf

Bee’s bowing bookshelf

Regular sharer Danny, by his own admission, only got into reading 4 years when he read Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code (one of the bestselling novels of all time with over 80 million copies sold worldwide).

He was nervous about coming to the share because ‘I didn’t want to feel out of my depth, I’d only read one author. But I wanted to find new things to read, and to meet new people.’

Now, Danny hardly misses a meet up, and often tells me how much he likes coming to hear others talk about books, discover and take away new ones, just because he enjoys it. He says

‘You walk into Fort’s cafe at 7.30 pm with one book. Two hours later after a great chat and lovely coffee, you leave carrying three books away that you may never have picked up in a book store. Then you know you’ve had a good evening.’

So, if you’d like to see what the share is like, meet new people and try something new, then come and join us at this year’s World Book Night bookshare party. We’re celebrating on Tuesday 23 April 7.30pm with a talk by the hugely talented Margate linocut artist Nick Morley (also a Bee’s Book Sharer), who will be talking about the book cover designs he’s created for publishers including the acclaimed Penguin books.

And we’ve got 20 copies of Rose Tremain’s The Road Home that we’ll be sharing, amongst many other books, plus I’ve got some other surprises up my book sleeve…


Hmmm now what could this be… come to Fort’s Book Share’s World Book Night to find out

We’d love to welcome you. And don’t worry if you’re not ‘into reading’ or haven’t finished a book in ages. It’s not a race to read a 100 books this year. It’s just a really good night out. And you never know where a book will take you…

Bee’s Bookshare takes place on the third Thursday of every month 7.30pm at Fort’s Cafe, Cliff Terrace Margate.

To find out more follow @beesbookshare #beesbookshare on Twitter or email to sign up to the mailing list.

Read my column in the Isle of Thanet Gazette about World Book Night here.

‘World Book Night would have to be one of the most exciting things to be happening in 2012. The thought of thousands of books being handed out, street to street, town to town, is one of those dreams I would have never thought possible – but World Book Night is making it happen. People will be reading and sharing books they might never have had the chance to before, and that will lead them to more great stories as time goes by. At the moment, though, I think World Book Night itself is the story to celebrate and embrace. It’s an honour to be involved.’
Markus Zusak

‘I was never a big reader when I was young. It took a friend giving me a novel and telling me to read it before I really understood what a wonderful and enriching experience reading can be. After that I started reading voraciously and it changed my life to a point I would never have imagined – I started writing books myself! As a novelist I want my work to be read by as wide an audience as possible, so to have one of my titles on the WBN list is a real thrill and a privilege. World Book Night is a great project and I’m honoured that Small Island is one of the books chosen for 2012.’
Andrea Levy

For the love of sharing books

“No writer can ask more than this: that his book should be handed in thousands to people who might otherwise never get to read it, and who will in turn hand it to thousands more. That his book should also pass from one generation to another as a story to challenge and excite each reader in his time – that is beyond his most ambitious dreams.” John le Carré

As a child I was always more interested in drawing than reading. The only books I read were Roald Dahl, and this was purely because of his whipple scrumptious snozcumbertastic made-up words and electrifyingly rotten characters.

I was 20, studying hard and partying harder at Uni and I needed to de-stress. My Dad suggested I try reading a novel. I did. I discovered that reading is a pleasure not a chore. It’s true, some reading can be dull. But a good book is a time traveller, a transporter to new worlds and new friends, an escape, and strangely, as it’s a solitary experience, an activity that brings people together and inspires passionate discussion.

Bee’s Bookshare has been running since April 2012. I moved to Margate 3 years ago and wanted to join a book club. But not a stuffy, dry, painful literary competition between readers (not all book clubs are like this, but the ones I tried were and made my heart, and bookmark, sink), but a relaxed, welcoming, social evening where people talk about books they’ve read, the ones they loved, the ones they hated, and discover new reads to devour. But there was nothing going on that I could find. So I set one up. The wonderful Fort’s Cafe on Margate seafront agreed to host (always good to have food and wine on hand for book natter).

And now we’re celebrating our first anniversary.

Bee’s Bookshare takes place on the third Thursday of every month at 7.30pm in Margate and once a month on a Wednesday at 81 Beach Street in Deal, Kent.

Fort’s Cafe, 8 Cliff Terrace, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent, CT9 1RU
81 Beach Street, Deal, Kent, CT14 6JB

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