My new book club had our first get-together last week and I enjoyed it. It was nice meeting new people and it's always fun to discuss a book over a meal. Our first assignment was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I thought this was the perfect choice for a first book. There wasn't much heavy discussion or debate involved because everyone liked the book.
A Whitbread award winner for 2003, the book is told from the point of view of Christopher, an autistic fifteen-year-old boy who tries to solve the murder of his neighbor's dog. Christopher's investigation soon leads him to uncover secrets about his parents' marriage.
I thought it was insightful to read the book from the point of view of an autistic teenager and to see how his mind worked. Haddon does an excellent job of conveying how literal and logical Christopher's mind actually is. The insertion of mathematical equations, puzzles and drawings adds to our understanding of Christopher's thinking. I thought the book was amazingly clever and I'm surprised at how such a simply written novel in many levels left me with a greater understanding of how autistic people see the world.
My book club loved the book. Surprisingly, one of our members seemed so knowledgeable about autism in general. She later revealed that she has a family member in the autism spectrum. It was fascinating to hear her own personal experience and she suggested for us to see the film Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes. I'd never heard of this film or of Temple Grandin, an autistic doctor of animal science who invented a system to slaughter cattle in a more humane manner. I've since seen the film and it was intriguing so I do recommend it if you're interested in this subject matter.
Claire Danes as Temple Grandin
At the end of our meeting, we asked every member to rate the book out of five. I gave it four stars. Though I enjoyed this book and thought it was very unique, I only give five stars to favourite novels or perfect ones. Our next read will be The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a book I've already read and loved! I wonder what my book club will think of it.
After that, it will be my turn to host so if you have any more suggestions for book club reads please keep them coming. I'm thinking of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, a book I'd love to reread and I think it would generate a lot of discussion. But I also wouldn't mind doing The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, Talking it Over by Julian Barnes, or something by Paul Auster. Hmm, what do you think? Meanwhile the hubby stayed up all night reading Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. I haven't read it yet, have you? He says it's excellent so far. Ah...so many choices. If I only host once a year, which one should I choose?