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There have been several attempts to start up a book club at Newgen since I’ve been here and each attempt until now has been as unsuccessful as the last. In the end, it took a global pandemic and all staff being locked in their homes for us to get it up off the ground. However, get if off the ground we did, and we’ve now been meeting (almost) every month to speak about and share our enjoyment (or otherwise) in the books that each other pick.

There are fourteen of us in the newly minted book gang, our ranks having swollen by the recent arrivals to the Newgen UK team. As book clubs go it’s a reasonably conventional one in that our time together is split evenly between reviewing books and talking about nonsense, though we do try to stay focused most of the time. We’re fairly democratic in our book choosing, using the now-popular method of voting and picking the book that received the most legal votes. Each month, one person is arbitrarily selected to be the host of the next month’s meeting and they get to select three titles to put to the group and the most popular book wins. This has proved to be a pretty successful method so far, with only one book having required a recount.

We’ve met twice so far this year and the books that we’ve discussed have been Bernadine Evaristo’s Booker-prize winning Girl, Woman, Other and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s mystery-in-translation The Rabbit Back Literature Society. I wrote ‘or otherwise’ earlier and the truth is that I was being a little disingenuous as, so far, we’ve all been fairly pleased with the books that we’ve read. It’s been really interesting to hear how similar our opinions have been up until now and I’m looking forward seeing whether this trend will continue, especially with regards to the next title.

Our next book, picked by Sonnie Wills and unanimously voted for by the rest of the book gang, is M.R. Carey’s surprisingly uplifting The Girl With All The Gifts, which is a story under whose influence we don’t recommend people operate a pandemic. But I shan’t say too much more about it as you’ll be reading more about it from Sonnie.

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernadine Evaristo
The Rabbit Back Literature Society, Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
The Girl With All The Gifts, M. R. Carey