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Book club goes virtual

What happens to book clubs when lockdown bans socialising? One Joburg north book club simply turned to Skype to talk books (and podcasts and series) and sip wine (or G&Ts or tea). The result? Fabulous festive fun!

Varushka Padayachi ‘I love our book club, and holding our meetings virtually has actually worked out better in some respects since no one is held up by traffic or working late. We all just grab some wine and dinner or snacks and catch up over Skype. Admittedly, most of the time we get sidetracked and end up talking about life, relationships and sometimes politics. I think it’s so important as women to have close, meaningful female friendships, and have women around you who inspire you and who you can connect with on an emotional and intellectual level.’

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Varushka’s reading: ‘Dark, Swedish, fantasy horror, Let the Old Dreams Die, is a an anthology of short stories by the author of Let The Right One In that features fantastical creatures like vampires, trolls and possible zombies. Yet in exploring the fantastical, these stories hold up a mirror to humanity to uncover the darkest facets of our own personalities.’

Laura Byrne ‘I rave about my favourite podcasts to just about anyone who will listen, but I’ve been lucky enough to find a group of like-minded nerds who enjoy these conversations and even rave back. My book club has been meeting semi-regularly for about a year and a half, and through it I’ve cemented friendships with old and current colleagues, and made some new friends too. During lockdown, we’ve managed to keep up our monthly meetings – with diminishing wine supplies – and, together, we’ve continued to share our love of trashy documentary series and obscure books. It’s been a little slice of normal in a strange situation.’

Laura’s listening to: ‘I’ve been a complete podcast addict for about the past three years. I eagerly await my favourites every week and look forward to my daily commute, when I can tune into great personal stories and forget about the traffic. Lockdown means a lot less driving, but I’m listening to more podcasts than ever! One of my all-time favourites is You’re Wrong About, in which two American journalists revisit the news scandals of the past few decades and discuss how they were distorted by the public imagination. Ever wonder what the Y2K panic was really all about? This is the podcast series for you!’

Annika Padayachi

‘Book club has become such an important part of my social calendar. It’s a chance to laugh, share stories and discuss current events. I was lucky enough to enjoy a virtual book club session during lockdown and it was no less fun – we just had to provide our own snacks (plus a bottle of red that I saved for the occasion).’

Annika’s reading: ‘The book I’m reading – between binge-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Crown – is Everything is F*cked. Contrary to the main title, Mark Manson goes on to describe it as “A book about hope”. I find his chatty and, at times, crass style quite soothing. The book is filled with real stories, observations and examples that ironically leave you with a reason to hope – and a lot to ponder.’

Daniella Graham

‘Lockdown has put a stop to so many things, so I was thrilled when our book club members didn’t even consider cancelling our catch-ups as an option. We’ve spent hours on Skype, chatting, gossiping and giggling ’til our cheeks hurt during lockdown and it’s been such a wonderful escape from the tough times Covid-19 has presented. There’s something powerful about a group of women determined to help one another to rise by sharing the worlds of literature they’ve explored. There’s power in our book club.’

Daniella’s reading:

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes has been on my to-read list for a while, and from the very first page, I knew I would love it … and I did. In fact, I loved it so much, it’s very close to the top of my list of best reads. Horses and literature. Heartbreak and romance. Beautiful prose and fast-paced storylines. The novel sucked my imagination into the world of Kentucky in the 1930s – and, put simply – it was unputdownable.’

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