Welcome to our online book club


IF YOU’RE READING this article, you’re interested in books and, specifically, you’re interested in The Irish Timesbooks pages. What we’re wondering is, where are you reading this? If you’re reading it online, you could be anywhere from Connemara to Dallas, from Beijing to Patagonia. You could even be in Antarctica.

But no matter where you are in the world, whether your closest neighbours are penguins or people, if you have internet access you can now be part of the new Irish Times Online Book Club.

For several years people have been forming and joining book clubs all over the world. There’s even a subgenre of books about book clubs, including The Jane Austen Book Club, Reading Lolita in Tehranand The Guernsey Literaryand Potato Peel Pie Society.

Here in Ireland there are so many that Ennis, in Co Clare, will host its fourth annual book-club festival in March. “There are hundreds and hundreds of book clubs in Ireland, and although nobody has been able to count the number of private book clubs in the country, we know from the response to a questionnaire on our website that there are lots of new ones starting up all the time,” reports Ciana Campbell, chairwoman of Ennis Bookclub Festival.

The idea is that we’ll choose a book a month, which we’ll announce in the paper, here in the books pages, at the end of each month. Initially, we will focus on novels, mostly newish Irish and international contemporary fiction, including popular novels, but down the line a bit we’ll be looking for your suggestions for books to feature, and it doesn’t have to be exclusively fiction.

I’ll be writing a blog, called, simply, The Book Club. We’ll start a discussion about that month’s book, which we hope you’ll participate

in online, a discussion that will develop over the course of the month. In addition, from time to time I’ll be posting links to interesting sites, or audio, or articles about the book being discussed, and also news from the literary world in general.

The book-club community will be you, gathered online, to come and go as you like, to view comments posted, to post your own, or both.

We’re planning to have regular interaction with the authors of the books featured. We’re starting with Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín.

Later, in February, there will be an opportunity for you to ask him questions about Brooklyn. We’ll first publish that Q&A in the paper at the end of next month; after that, everything that’s been up online about each book will be archived by month. Later still, we’re planning some Irish TimesBook Club events at which our readers get to meet the author in person, whether at a film screening, a talk or a social gathering. For now we’d love to hear your ideas and feedback online, because this book club belongs to you.

Just to remind everyone, irishtimes.com is free.


follow us on Twitter @RositaBoland or email bookclub@irishtimes.com