I have just finished reading the first of Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium Trilogy', The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' with our village reading group. We've been going for about 3 years, meeting once a month in the local pub for drinks and heated debate. The landlord has also listed us as one of the pubs attrractions! I joined because I was in desperate need of a literature up-date. Since 1998 my reading had been largely set texts and history books, and I'd begun to lose touch with current authors
I have been constantly surprised by the kind of the books some of my friends choose - Broken April (Ismail Kadare) or The Girls (Lori Lansens) for instance. Someone even chose Fowles' French Lieutenant's Woman because she had been brought up in Lyme Regis. I'm afraid she got a bit of a surprise herself when she actually read it! That one did divide us, since only 3 of us enjoyed it.
I was a little ashamed to find out just how many books other members got through. Several took books on holiday, which is something I never do - I'd much prefer to be out and about seeing the sights or relaxing with a glass or two. But, looking round my office-cum-spare room, I note that I have amassed an eclectic selection of books over the years. So I suppose that I too once read purely for greedy pleasure - on the bus or train to or from work in Norwich, or during lonely evenings when my first husband was working in his restaurant.
I returned to studying in 1996 when my reading became focused on academic outcomes. Since joining the reading group I hardly know what to expect each month. (Actually, next month it's Susan Hill) But I have got my wish and am now catching up with modern writers. As for Larsson's Dragon Tattoo, well it was a dark tale with flawed protagonists, and a bloody good mystery with a cascade of denouements as the various strands were resolved. The Swedish setting was one of political and economic corruption, much like Mankel's Wallander, to which my husband and I have become addicted. Just the stuff for retired ladies!