Leiden Book Club: Book & Film 7 – Emma and Clueless


  Jane Austen is famously quoted as saying of Emma ‘I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like’. And it appears that prediction holds true in 2018, at least for the book-clubbers of Leiden Magazine. With the exception of this reviewer that is. My fellow bibliophiles, all of them twenty-somethings, wrinkled their collective noses in distaste of Emma Woodhouse’s character, citing words like immature (Emma is not yet one and twenty); mean, selfish and snobbish. Myself, of a worldlier age and having fallen for Emma in my mid-30s, find her witty, charming, interesting… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club: Book & Film 6 – Cloud Atlas


  Since its initial publication in 2004, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas has garnered no small amount of acclaim. Its structure has been praised as ‘fantastic and complex’, its myriad voices have been called ‘distinct and superb’; it has won various awards, sold over one million copies and has been adapted into major motion picture. It is an opus cherished the world over — and I fucking hate it.  The novel begins, simply enough, on a beach in the Pacific Ocean. It is here that we are introduced to the first of many protagonists: a young notary from mid 18th century… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book & Film 5 – The Harp in the South


  I feel as though I begin every review I write by claiming scepticism upon the receiving the initial assignment. Maybe I’m pompous, maybe I’m just careful, but almost everything I have thrown into my lap is met with reluctance. This reaction was no different upon purchasing Book Club’s latest: The Harp in the South by Ruth Park. The Harp in the South, first published in 1948, is a gritty exploration of life in Sydney’s then-slum Surry Hills, set during the Great Depression for added appeal. The novel focuses most of its attention on the struggles of the Darcy family… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book & Film 4 – The Taming of the Shrew


  The works of William Shakespeare occupy a special place in the literary world: the larger-than-life characters; the tragic and/or comedic tales of love, power and death; and the countless speeches (‘friends, Romans, countrymen…’, ‘what light through yonder window…’, ‘out damned spot…’ etcetera, etcetera); all these things and more have been pounded into the collective consciousness so thoroughly that damn near anyone can cite something from at least one of his works. And yet, despite the ubiquity, one of the most enduringly popular Shakespearian plays (as far as my limited research can attest) is one of the least quotable —… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book & Film 3 – Watership Down


  I love kid’s stories, hell, we all do. Kid’s stories are the first stories, they lay the foundations for how we think about all stories afterwards and, more important still, they inform our approach to life itself; the stories we hear as children raise us just as much as our parents and our community do. The greatest kid’s stories resonate not just with the child but with the adult as well (…most of us, anyway), satisfying both our awe of the big wide world, and our terror of it. It is thus with great pleasure that I return to… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book & Film 2 – Fight Club


  It’s a been a long time since I last read Chuck Palahniuk’s debut novel Fight Club. I was around fourteen–fifteen when I first picked it up, a result of having become enamoured with its much more famous film adaptation (more on that later). I remember, back then, being struck by the blunt beauty of the prose, wrapped around a tight and thrilling narrative. It wasn’t long after that I chronologically consumed the entirety of Palahniuk’s catalogue, which at that point ended with Haunted. Throughout this consumption I became more and more dissatisfied, seeing less insight, less poetry and more… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book & Film 1 – Breakfast at Tiffany’s


  What can one say about Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote’s miniature opus? The novella, despite its slender spine, has an awesome weight to it, carrying the great mass of reverence that has been heaped upon it since its first publication in 1958. And while the film adaptation does tend to soak up the bulk of this acclaim the judgement of time is still clear: here lies one of America’s finest novel(la)s. So, what’s the deal? Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the tale — told through the first-person eyes of mononymous narrator Fred — of Holly Golightly, a young, beautiful and… Continue Reading

Leiden Book (and film!) Club 2018


  This year we are bringing all the joy of book club and combining it with all the audio visual pleasure of film club. We have carefully curated a list of great reads that have also inspired a film adaptation. Here’s how it works: Leiden Book (and film!) Club is for anyone and everyone. Each month we will read a fab book and then we will talk about how fab (or not) it is. For those interested in comparing and contrasting you can also watch the film inspired by each book on the list. If reading isn’t your thang, curl… Continue Reading