South Manchester Book Group

We're a friendly and open reading group, and we share a love of books and discussing them with other people. We meet every fortnight, but you don't have to come to them all. It's dead simple; choose a book you like the sound of, read it (or even part of it) beforehand and turn up with a few ideas and money for beer / wine / flirtinis. It's very informal, and we're quite a friendly bunch.

We normally meet at the Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury around 8 pm. We can usually be found on the table with the books and flirtinis. Whilst the contagion lasts and we remain indoors we'll meet online, reading virtual books and drinking virtual flirtinis — vlirtinis if you will.

We've become rather popular recently so unfortunately aren't accepting new members just at the moment. But please drop us a line on the Contact Us form and we'll add you to our mailing list.

Our reading list, past, present, and future, appears here and a short version of what we’re reading next is here.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Klara and the Sun — Kazuo Ishiguro

Book cover for Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro Klara and the Sun in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

This week's book is Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

The Starless Sea — Erin Morgenstern

Book cover for The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern The Starless Sea in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.

Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover — a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.

When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.

This week's book is The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Circe — Madeline Miller

Book cover for Circe by Madeline Miller Circe in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Yet, in the golden halls of gods and nymphs, Circe stands apart, as something separate, something new. With neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and scorned and rejected by her kin Circe is increasingly isolated. Turning to mortals for companionship, she risks defying her father for love, a path that leads her not to the marriage bed but to a discovery of a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

Banished by Zeus to the remote island of Aiaia, Circe refines her craft, fate entwining her with legends: the messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home. As her power increases and her knowledge grows, so Circe must make the ultimate choice: to decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

This week's book is Circe by Madeline Miller and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

As we're coming to the end of our reading list, we'll be once again attempting to choose books at the meeting. You may like to consider the unread books list and the unreadable books list.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

I am Sovereign — Nicola Barker

Book cover for I am Soverign by Nicola Barker I am Soverign in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Charles, a forty-year-old teddy bear maker, is trying to sell his late mother's house, helped by his estate agent Avigail (who thinks Charles is an imbecile). The prospective buyers: the fearsome Wang Shu — who has no desire to make idle chit-chat — and her downtrodden daughter, Ying Yue.

This week's book is I am Sovereign by Nicola Barker and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

As we're coming to the end of our reading list, we'll be choosing books at the meeting. You may like to consider the unread books list and the unreadable books list.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Shuggie Bain — Douglas Stuart

Book cover for Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart Shuggie Bain in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.

Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners' children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.

This week's book is Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Where the Crawdads Sing — Delia Owens

Book cover for Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen Where the Crawdads Sing in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group For years, rumors of the Marsh Girl have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.

Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life — until the unthinkable happens.

This week's book is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Imperium — Robert Harris

Book cover for Imperium by Robert Harris Imperium in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group When Tiro, the confidential secretary of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events which will eventually propel his master into one of the most famous courtroom dramas in history.

The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Cicero, a brilliant young lawyer and spellbinding orator, determined to attain imperium — supreme power in the state despite his low birth and implacable opposition from the republic's elites. This case will be his way in.

This week's book is Imperium by Robert Harris and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

The Glass Hotel — Emily St John Mandel

Book cover for The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel The Glass Hotel in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the exclusive Hotel Caiette. When New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis walks into the hotel and hands her his card, it is the beginning of their life together.

That same night, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don't you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core.

When Alkaitis's investment fund is revealed to be a Ponzi scheme, Leon loses his retirement savings in the fallout, but Vincent seemingly walks away unscathed. Until, a decade later, she disappears from the deck of one of Leon's ships ...

This week's book is The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Hamnet — Maggie O'Farrell

Book cover for Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell Hamnet in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home ?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; a flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker's son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

This week's book is Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Without Prejudice — Nicola Williams

Book cover for Without Prejudice by Nicola Williams Without Prejudice in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Lee Mitchell is a thirty-year-old barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

After she takes on the high-profile case of notorious millionaire playboy Clive Omartian — arrested along with his father and stepbrother for eye-wateringly exorbitant fraud — the line between her personal and professional life becomes dangerously blurred. Spiralling further into Clive's trail of debauchery and corruption, she finds herself in alarmingly deep waters.

Can she survive her case, let alone win it ?

This week's book is Without Prejudice by Nicola Williams and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

The Midnight Library — Matt Haig

Book cover for The Midnight Library by Matt Haig The Midnight Library in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself.

But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren't always what she imagined they'd be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live ?

This week's book is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

As we're coming to the end of our reading list, we'll be choosing books at the meeting. You may like to consider the unread books list and the unreadable books list.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

The Thursday Murder Club — Richard Osman

Book cover for The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman The Thursday Murder Club in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, The Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron, might be octogenarians, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it's too late ?

This week's book is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Minty Alley — C L R James

Book cover for Minty Alley by C L R James Minty Alley in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “As he walked home he looked up at the myriads of stars, shining in the moonlight. Did people live there ? And if they did, what sort of life did they live ?”

Port-of-Spain in the 1920s, and Haynes' world has been upended. His mother has died, and his carefully mapped-out future of gleaming opportunity has disappeared with her.

Unable to afford his former life, he finds himself moving into Minty Alley — a bustling barrack yard teeming with energy and a spectacular cast of characters. In this sliver of West Indian working-class society, outrageous love affairs and passionate arguments are a daily fixture, and Haynes begins to slip from curious observer to the heart of the action.

This week's book is Minty Alley by C L R James and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

The Lost Man — Jane Harper

Book cover for The Lost Man by Jane Harper The Lost Man in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other's nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman's grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family's quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death ? Because if he didn't, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects ...

This week's book is The Lost Man by Jane Harper and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Frankenstein in Baghdad — Ahmed Saadawi

Book cover for Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi Frankenstein in Baghdad in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In the rubble-strewn streets of occupied Baghdad, wanders Hadi, the junk peddler.

Hadi is used to picking up stray objects. One day he starts to bring home the body parts left in the streets from the day’s explosions. He feels they deserve a proper burial and he begins to stitch them together, in the hope that if he can create a whole corpse someone will bury it.

But then the corpse goes missing, and a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city ...

This week's book is Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Norwegian Wood — Haruki Murakami

Book cover for Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami Norwegian Wood in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki.

Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire — to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.

This week's book is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Persepolis — Marjane Satrapi

Book cover for Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi Persepolis in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group “I realized then that I didn't understand anything. I read all the books I could.”

The story of Marjane Satrapi's life in Tehran from the ages of six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

This week's book is Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

One By One — Ruth Ware

Book cover for One By One by Ruth Ware One By One in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask — would someone resort to murder, to get what they want ?

This week's book is One By One by Ruth Ware and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Stasiland — Anna Funder

Book cover for Stasiland by Anna Funder Stasiland in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist.

Stasiland is the extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany, a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in fifty East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women.

In it, we meet Miriam, who as a sixteen-year-old might have started the Third World War, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the East, who the authorities once declared — to his face — to ‘no longer exist’.

This week's book is Stasiland by Anna Funder and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.

As we're coming to the end of our reading list, we'll be choosing books at the meeting. You may like to consider the unread books list and the unreadable books list.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Piranesi — Susanna Clarke

Book cover for Piranesi by Susanna Clarke Piranesi in the South Manchester, Chorlton, Cheadle, Fallowfield, Burnage, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Chapel, Northenden, and Didsbury book group Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides which thunder up staircases, the clouds which move in slow procession through the upper halls.

On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food and waterlilies to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims ?

Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous. The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

This week's book is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke and we'll not be meeting at The Fletcher Moss on William Street in Didsbury but will be meeting online — contact us for details.