Leiden Book Club Book 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

Leiden Book Club Book 10 – Norwegian Wood


  Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is a behemoth. First published in 1987, it was written by Murakami as a challenge to himself: try to write a good book in a style you don’t like and see how it goes. Clearly it worked out in his favour, though, as the novel flung Murakami from relative obscurity into superstardom of such a degree that he apparently had to flee the country to escape it all. This is, to quote everyone who has told me about it, ‘the one book everyone in Japan has read’. Which makes it the perfect novel to round… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 9 – Persuasion


  Jane Austen has never been a particularly large blip on my literary radar. My mother has been a voracious fan since long before I was part of the world; and after I did become a part of it she would often put forward the Austen catalogue as a recommendation to me. I would smile and nod, acknowledging that no bookshelf is complete without a few Austens present, but never quite getting around to taking the plunge. This changed with Emma, which I only picked up in order to impress my future de-facto wife (also Emma). And while I found… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book Book 8 – Swing Time


  Swing Time, a novel by Zadie Smith, is an onion. There is layer upon layer upon layer; the more you dig, the more you will find to ponder and discuss. It’s likely you may shed a tear or two while reading, or at the very least, feel the odd tug on your heart strings. It’s not an easy book to review because, frankly, a lengthy essay would be more fitting (and for the hardcore literature nerds, much more satisfying). Swing Time is a best friend bildungsroman within which lies an acute social commentary about race, class and gender; an… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 7 – The Wonder


  An English nurse — seemingly cold, discerning and aloof on first impression — is brought to a small Irish village to observe the ‘miracle’ of an eleven-year-old girl who has fasted for months and believes herself to be living off manna from heaven. It is Lib Wright’s job to keep watch over this young girl to prove whether she is a miracle or a fraud, but like any other good book, her mission is not as easy as it would appear. The Wonder is an exploration of faith, fasting and morality, and is based on the many cases of… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 6 – Quiet


  To say that Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking changed my life is not an understatement. When I first read Quiet, I was a public servant in a role that required working long hours, extensive travel, and being switched on around stakeholders all the time. Not just in the office or boardroom either, but over lunch, at the airport, at networking drinks – in other words, I was constantly depleted of energy and felt on the verge of burnout. My poor husband commented at the time, ’I see you coming home later and… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 5 – Lolita


  There is something strangely uncomfortable about recommending a book about the sexual relationship between a middle-aged man and his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. Yet I find myself doing exactly that. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, is not a comfortable book. The content is certainly uncomfortable. At least, for me, it was – I mean, Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged sexual pervert and a murderer and Dolores seems quite happy to receive his sexual attentions. However, it was not the content that I found to be most unsettling; rather, it was the subtle manner that Nabokov was able to elicit sympathy from me… Continue Reading