Juliet Sulejmani | April 01, 2016
“Fiction books are my soul food, junk food and brain food all in one. More, they’re my oxygen – I need them to live.” So says Baz about why he reads.
Baz and I instantly became friends a few years ago when we bonded over our love of books, culture and style. I don’t think I know anyone who is as passionate about literature as Baz is. You will never see him without a book. We’d often read the same books because we found it really beneficial and more fun to be able to discuss books together, and gossip over the characters. Which is why I wasn’t surprised at all one day, about a year ago, when he came to tell me that he wanted to start his own Book Club.
And today is the first Anniversary of the ‘Untitled Book Club’, the Book Club Baz started exactly a year ago with the book ‘Angels’ by Denis Johnson.
To celebrate, I sat down with Baz and asked him a few questions.
- What inspired you to start the Untitled Book Club?I always wanted to belong to one, and the two or three I’ve been a part of in the past failed miserably.
If I commit to something it’s because I genuinely like and have an interest in the thing and I know I have the time it requires. For some reason I’ll never understand, most people don’t seem to take into account their lifestyles and will excitedly commit to a thing and not far down the track come to see that they’ve miscalculated their time and don’t have it to give. Or, they just come to realise very quickly that they like the idea of the thing more than they like the doing of it. Their excitement, which can almost seem like a genuine interest or passion, turns out to be a case of bored eyes settling on a shiny new thing. Not really acknowledging what it means to make a commitment is the main reason the Book Clubs I’ve participated in didn’t go anywhere.
A bit over a year ago I saw that I had come to a point where I’d gotten to know enough people who devoted a lot of time to reading and were lovers like myself of literary fiction that I could, if I wanted to, get us together to start a little group. The circumstances were right for me to start a Book Club that had a chance of some mileage. And with myself at the helm, I knew I had the passion to give it my constant love and energy.
- Had you been in a Book Club before starting your own?Answered in first question. 😛
- Have you always loved to read, what was the first book you remember reading?Always, from the moment I was able to, yes. My mum tells me that she used to read to me, but the earliest memory I have is reading the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. There were many books in the series and I was obsessed. I would borrow them all the time from the library at my primary school.
- How many members are in your Book Club and where are they from?There are currently just over 30 members. We hail from all over the globe: Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Norway, Austria, the Philippines, and India!
- Has the success of the Book Club surprised you?Nope! I was quietly confident because of the reasons I gave in my answer to your first question. However, I don’t know if I consider it that successful. Of the 30+ members only about 10 are what I would consider actively engaged. So it’s far from perfect. But in group activities you’re always going to have your outliers.
- If I ask you what is your favourite book and who is your favourite author, what/who is the first ones to come to mind?As most readers will tell you, the answer to this question can change on any given day. But I will say that when asked the question from time to time, I never fail to mention the works of Tolstoy (especially Anna Karenina), and the stories of Alice Munro.
- How could someone join your Book Club?I have to get a sense of the person’s reading habits and taste in fiction before I consider having them be part of the more private Facebook group. They have to be a good fit and have genuine interest in participating in the conversation. It’s the only way the group can operate successfully. But anyone on Instagram can read along with us. All you have to do is go to @UntitledBookClub to see what the pick of the month is, and use the #UntitledBookClub hashtag to participate!
- What are you currently reading?I’m just about to start Anne Tyler’s latest novel A Spool of Blue Thread.
- How do you choose what to read?What attracts me to a new author is partly gut instinct, learning what it is the author is recognised for in his or her fiction and whether that appeals to me. But most of the books I’ve chosen can be traced back to earlier books or writers I love. I will try someone new if a writer I love is a fan of their work.
- Can you share a quote that you like with us?
I can share two.”Only very simple things can be said without falsehood.” – Iris Murdoch, Under the Net
“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Thank you Baz, I look forward to all the books that we will read in the second year of the Untitled Book Club.