• CWL Events

    April  2023
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Book Chain

Online Book Chain Returns... send an email to join in

If you would like to be part of a book club but don't have time or find it hard to get to meetings then our On-line Book Chain may suit you. We are calling for interested readers to get in touch via email [email protected] It works like a regular book club but via your email in-box. Readers wanting to take part in the book chain during March, April and May will be asked to submit a book title of their own choosing then their comment about the book when they have finished reading it. Then members of the book chain will receive details of two surprise reads during this time and give their comments. Book chain members source the books from Central West Libraries. You can check out comments from last year's book chain on our blog — the books were If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father and Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

CWL Book Chain Reviews - If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman – while in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weights whether to live with her grief or join her family in death. Read what our on-line book chainers said:

Mandarin 1: A choice  Death and not know pain ever again or continue living and suffer without your close loving family? The indomitable spirit of life is so very strong. We see the struggle all around us daily. Was there really any choice? A very touching and emotional story from an unusual viewpoint. Note: Hollywood is now in the process of making a movie of IF I STAY. Looking forward to seeing it.

Mandarin 2: I read this quickly, it is an easy read but it is too sentimental and unbelievable and dare I say predictable. A talented cello player, perfect boyfriend, perfect family. All toooooo perfect. With all her “should I stay or should I go” it was too much, too self-indulgent  I thought I don't really care. I also didn't believe an emo boy band member would fall for a classical music student. Sorry to everyone but it just wasn't to my taste.

Mandarin 3: I found this an intriguing and emotional read. It is probably more for teenagers but it raises some interesting questions about grief and death and ultimately makes you appreciate life more. A teenage girl, Mia, who happens to be a talented cellist is in a coma after a serious car accident and reflects on her life to help her make a decision. We meet all the key people in Mia's life – mother, father, younger brother, boyfriend, best friend, grandparents. Some of it is told in flashback while she is hovering above herself in hospital. It is all is a bit strange and eerie, but it really moving and will bring you to tears.

CWL Book Chain Reviews - Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama

Here are some more reviews from our CWL Book Chain for Dreams From My Father.
From Mandarin 1: Have to agree with Obama's statement in his introduction that his memoir could be further edited by at least 50 pages. I say double or perhaps even triple.
As he charts his background growing up in a white household, struggling to find his identity as a righteous black man by resisting “the pure and heady breeze of privilege”, his story bogs down in discussions of racial exploitation without really shedding any new light on the subject.
Although I did find his trip back to Kenya, reuniting with his new found siblings and defining “what is a family?” intriguing.
Just a thought – I find it hard to believe that Obama wrote his first memoir in one year. I suggest that he may had major editorial help, even a ghostwriter. Successful politicians have sought this service with acknowledgment of their help. Why Obama has not, is perhaps due to his political persona built around his presumably superior intellect.

Mandarin 2: What makes someone become a president? Let alone coming from a mixed race background, American mother, African father, an Indonesian stepfather and growing up in different countries I really enjoyed reading this, discovering all about this boy growing up into a man who is wise beyond his years. It is quite detailed, the conversations he recalls and his thoughts about different events, like the advertisements for whitening skin. I found his real father fascinating even though Barack hardly knows him – he was brought to life. It is well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. When he became president I honestly didn't know much about him but now I feel I know him well and what life events have shaped his ideas.

Mandarin 3: This is an excellent read about race in modern society and his struggle to find where he fits in life. It is also about an absent father  and discovering a family a world away….a real insight into the man of the moment  the US President. Thank you “Mandarins”,
More reviews to come…………

CWL Book Chain Reviews - Revolutionary Road

Our inaugural CWL Book Chain (via email) has ended for this year with two groups (Mandarin and Tangerine) reading a total of six books they self-nominated. Keep in mind not everyone read all the books so there will be more reviews for some books than others. Here are the reviews from the Mandarin Book Chain for Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Our next email book chain will start next year.

From Mandarin 1:
A portrait of the artifice of American suburban life in the '50's.Told through Frank Wheeler, a selfish and insecure man who has a deep investment in maintaining his male status quo. Frustrated, Frank with his wife, April and two children move to suburban Connecticut. As a temporary measure, Frank takes a job that is dull due to his belief that he is destined for an extraordinary creative life. How and when? He's not quite sure although April may have the solution… I really thought this novel was very well written. It's a familiar theme similar to movies like “American Beauty” and the TV show “Mad Men” in which hysterical housewives and angry suburban men dream of escaping while simultaneously protecting their fragile stability. However, the confronting “honesty” that Yates is recognised for does not allow the reader to sit back and enjoy an ultimate moral conviction. We find the novel judging our own harmonious reality and the role of chance. There are those who may view this theme depressing. However the well developed characters, the astonishing understanding of human nature that is sometimes portrayed with cynicism and Yates refusal to let sentiment seep in will capture the reader in a novel that is utterly absorbing. A very memorable performance.

Mandarin 2:
This is so well written and timely for today as people search for meaning in life. It is subtle and an insider's study of a couple, and their neighbours and striving for a life less ordinary. I can see some would say it is bleak but it reminds us about what makes us happy and reminds us to be be grateful for what you have.

Join the Central West Libraries Book Chain

Here at Central West Libraries our dream is to bring more readers together and we plan to use your email in-box to do it. If you are interested in being part of an on-line book chain to take place during May, June and July, then email [email protected] (that's the email address for our Reading and Writing Coordinator, Jasmine) and we will send you all the details. It doesn't matter where you live. A book chain works like a regular book club but via your email in-box. Readers wanting to take part in the book chain will be asked to submit a book title of their own choosing then their comment about the book when they have finished reading it. Then members of the book chain will receive details of two surprise reads during this time and give their comments. Book chain members need to source the books from Central West Libraries. It is a first for us and will be lots of fun, so send an email and let us know you want to be part of the CWL Book Chain. Starting soon.