This week’s theme in our series of ‘Create Hope and Staying Positive in the face of Covid-19’ is ‘Accepting What Is’ and an essential part of accepting our situation is finding ways to create a new routine.

John Rice from Kilkenny, and a member of the National Program Team, has suggested turning to books in an effort to deal with changes the current restrictions have imposed on us.

Become a Bookworm to beat the Corona Virus

Given the way the Coronavirus has upset our routine, people are looking for constructive things to do. Books are a great way to pass the time alone, and once this crisis is over, people can meet up to discuss the books they read.

In recent years some Kilkenny Grow members have experimented with a book club.  We meet in stops and starts, finding that we generally like books that have some of the following qualities: (a) short, (b) moments of humour, (c) characters we can relate to.

Two books I really enjoyed were:

Riding the Bus with my Sister by Rachel Simon – explores the relationship between two sisters: Rachel a ‘respectable writer’ and Beth, a ‘free spirit’ with a learning disability.  Beth spends her days travelling the buses of her local city.  Rachel decides to build a relationship by accompanying her sister on the buses for one day a week over the course of a year.  The cliché ‘life changing’ belongs here: Rachel embarks on a ‘spiritual journey’ not just with her sister but with a wide array of bus drivers and people who care for Beth.  For anyone interested in how to create social niches for vulnerable people, this book is truly an eye opener.  And it’s so good they made it into a film!

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.  Some Steinbeck novels reflect the bleak economic crisis of 1930s California.  However this book is very humorous and uplifting – gliding gently over those difficult times.  It’s fascinating how in such a short book the author finds space for such an array of characters, who get up to all kinds of escapades.  Discussing this book, which celebrates the ingenuity of ordinary people, generated much laughter.

Our book club also enjoyed:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – surprisingly easy to read.  ‘Long John Silver’ is one of fiction’s great characters.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman is a humorous and sensitive look at a young woman learning to deal with mental health issues.  A big book, but easy to read!

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance – some journalists saw this book as explaining why Trump got elected.  Yet it explores far more, while dealing with the lives of people we can all relate to.