Bangor Carnegie Reading Group
Recently I was able to visit the Bangor Carnegie Reading Group meeting held on a very rainy day in The Curve, the lovely bright meeting room in Bangor Carnegie Library which doubles up as an Art Gallery. This month’s Art exhibition is from the Boom Studios featuring local artists’ work – the paintings surrounding us all adding that extra something to the Reading Group discussion.
The Group has been in existence for nearly 20 years with some of the original members still coming along. It started off initially in Kilcooley Women’s Centre but moved to the main Library building quite a few years ago.
They are a dedicated bunch – with one lady travelling from Magherafelt to attend the monthly meeting. As we settle down with a cup of coffee and biscuit another told me she usually brings her granddaughter along in the buggy when child minding duties are required. Today though, it is half term and she can get to enjoy the meeting without the added responsibility of child care.
The book in question this month is We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan which is available on Libby - a book I am told that few members would have chosen themselves to read. The author is only 29 years old, a lawyer who won a competition with this, her debut. The book tells the compelling story from two different eras with Sameer in present day London and his grandfather Hasan in Kampala in the 1970’s. Both stories tell of the struggle for cultural identity and belonging in the midst of instability. It is an education to learn of the Indian –Asian expulsion of the 1970’s curtesy of Idi Amin, with the human fall out being documented by Hasan in letters. We follow Sameer’s journey back to Uganda in his search for belonging. A harrowing story at times, beautifully told – it is in essence a history lesson for those of us willing to listen.
The ladies are talkative but respectful of each other’s opinions with the conversation bouncing round the table ably directed by Pamela the Branch Manager. Most are agreed that they are glad to have read it but for many the ending is unsatisfactory – not the happy ever after they would have preferred with all the ends tied up.
The book for next month is revealed – I am pleased to see they have chosen Still Life by Sarah Winman – another of the books which I have mentioned in a previous blog. I assure them that they are in for a treat and wish that I too could join them again for their next session.
Reading Groups are such a treat for booklovers, a chance to meet with others who share their passion. Dedicated time to talk about books, to share recommendations and relax in a safe friendly environment and it was a treat for me to be able to join in with them.
Most libraries have a Reading Group – ask at your local branch if you think you may be interested.
I can thoroughly recommend them.