By November 30, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Kate Morton on Book Groups

I have read all three of Kate Morton’s spellbinding Gothic novels now, and just read her first, The House at Riverton, last. Morton knows how to write parallel stories that draw you in. She tells a good story well and entices with atmosphere, period detail and suspense.

But when I finished The House at Riverton, I also appreciated what the Australian writer had to say about book groups in the Washington Square Press Reader’s Club Guide. Here is what Morton said in response to the question, “As an author, what’s your take on the reading group phenomenon, and why do you think your book holds such appeal to them?”

I think reading groups give people the opportunity to do what book lovers enjoy more than anything else: first, to read books; second, to discuss, argue, and enthuse about books. Reading is a solitary activity, but reading groups turn it into a shared experience. When I finished reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement, no one I knew had read it. I was so desperate to speak to someone else who was privy to its wonderful, unexpected conclusion, that I ran straight up the road to my local bookstore so I could rave to the owner. That’s the spirit that informs reading groups. Reading is one of life’s great pleasures; talking about books keeps their worlds alive longer.

Morton goes on to say a little something about what she looks for in a book group book:

I think reading groups like to read books that make them think, but not at the expense of a strong story. Life is too short to read books whose cleverness makes them impenetrable. A good book should keep you awake at night, flicking through the pages as you promise yourself just one more chapter; they shouldn’t put you to sleep as you tackle a paragraph for the fifth time.

Morton’s words on book groups made me adore her more. But she had me hooked with The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours. Bravo, Ms. Morton.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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