The Morley book club has been operating for 40 years and has kept fascinating records of its reading choices. The club has kindly provided them for this site so that other book clubs can compare notes, get ideas – and just enjoy this insight into another club.

You can see a complete history of book club selections  and see the club’s nominations for the best and worst of their selections. You may find some surprises in their list of “worst” books!

MORLEY BOOK CLUB Established 1964

Jean Giese, Nancy Keir, Judith Brown, Noelle Beasley, and Helen Baker all had a baby and/or toddlers, and we thought we’d like to escape from the baby scene – even if only once a month. We were fortunate in having sympathetic husbands, so it was made possible to meet in the evening, and we made it a rule from the beginning that there would be no discussion of domestic matters until supper time. This actually worked quite well until about 20 years later when grandchildren began to appear. One of our members actually greeted us on arrival with the exciting news that her 6 week old grandson could count the exposed beams in her ceiling!
We had no idea how to go about discussing a book, but Judith’s husband had been studying De Maupassant’s short stories Boule de Suif at university, so we read it too and used Bill’s notes. We were rather an innocent group, and were rather shocked by the stories, and no doubt didn’t fully understand them. We have recently studied the book again, and this time appreciated the author’s beautiful writing and his wonderful characterisation, irony and humour.
We gathered one or two new members each month during the first year until we had 12, and we have mostly kept to that number over the years. About 15 ladies have come and gone, but the 13 current members have been together for about 10 years, and 3 of us are originals.
Our format has been to assign one person each month to choose a book that we all read, and that person leads the discussion two months later. We have studied 400 works of fiction, non fiction, magazines and plays (with some readings.) We have had books we loved and books we hated.
We have grown together over the years and are very supportive of each other. Two of us have been widowed, two of us divorced, and one member has died. We have lost all our parents, and have gained numerous daughters- and sons-in-law, or partners, and lots of grandchildren. We have become an extended family, important to all of us.
Today is quite an occasion for us, and we have been joined by Jean Giese from Melbourne, and Nancy Keir (who left us many years ago when her work load became too great), to celebrate the event.
We would advise any young people who are interested in reading to form a discussion group. It is a marvellous way of expressing oneself, and broadening one’s “thinking” horizons, to say nothing of the benefits of forming very valuable friendships.

Helen Baker
4 August 2004


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