July 7, 2017


Dear Readers. Consider the attractions of a free monthly book club for WICE members, from all over the world, with the occasional appearance of some of the authors at the meetings!  
You can avail of this and many other WICE activities by joining up for half-price at our next Open House at a great new venue (only 25 euros!), 28 rue du Pont Louis Phillipe in the 4e, 19 September 2017 – put that in your agenda!
Catherine Field
The Bilingual Book Group has enjoyed a major makeover this past year with international journalist Catherine Field, from New Zealand, and Canadian photographer Tracey Bennewies taking charge.  They revamped the Books Group’s webpage and got their own email address.  Regular attendance doubled to its current limit of 10 people, with a second group possible as demand warrants.  Another innovation?  They brought in coffee and tea to make the meetings more convivial.
Tracey Bennewies
“It’s amazing that something as simple as bringing in hot drinks would change the atmosphere so much,” says Catherine Field, who appreciates most the cosmopolitan nature of the club.  “We have people from the US., India, Ireland and France, some with expat and military experiences in Algeria or Beirut.  The different international perspectives make this book club very special.”
Here’s how it works: books on the reading list must be published in English and in French, and members read the monthly book and discuss it in their preferred language, under the guidance of a team of moderators. Members suggest books for the reading list, which is devised at the start of the year. Catherine worked incredibly hard vetting the books reading about 40 to see if they were the best 10 for the club, with help from partner Tracey who Catherine describes as “a real bookworm.”  
“We don’t just want good books, we want good Book Group books.  That means having something you can discuss, with strong characters or a moral or political message, that you can sink your teeth into and get you thinking,” says Catherine.  “More recently, Tracey has started showing video clips from movies made from the books, which made for stimulating conversation.”
Meetings are held on the second Friday afternoon of every month, with 1 hour 45 minutes for the book discussion.
Author Noreen Riols joining the WICE Book Group discussion of her work
But most exciting are some personal appearances by authors.   A highlight of the year was the visit of Noreen Riols, the author of The Secret Ministry of Ag. And Fish: My Life in Churchill’s School for Spies.  She’s 90 years old and still in good form.  In October, WICE’s own Alecia McKenzie, creative writing instructor, will be speaking about her book Sweetheart, and other appearances are in the works.  
Books that made for great conversation included The Vegetarian, by Korean writer Han Kang, about the male patriarchy from the point of view of a woman we never hear speak.  Other good talks centered on The Meursault Investigation, an Arab riposte to Camus’ The Stranger by Kamel Daoud; Des Hommes, by Laurent Mauvignier about post-traumatic stress disorder in the Algerian war, and The Harder They Come, a book about American violence by T.C. Boyle.  A few ideas for your summer holiday reading list?
The first book of the rentrée will be The Gathering, or Retrouvailles, a Booker Prize winner by Irish author Anne Enright.  The meeting is scheduled for Friday, 15 September from 2:00 to 4:00pm and the discussion will be led by Pamela Soyer  It’s open to all members but registration is required as seats are limited, (unless there are enough new members next year to split the book club into two groups).  So don’t hesitate to register!
See you at the fall Open House, 28 rue du Pont Louis Phillipe in the 4e, on 19 September 2017,where you can find out all about WICE’s many courses and cultural offerings.
Post by Elizabeth Bouché
Book club meetings at the WICE Office the second Friday of each month 2pm - 4pm.