Cricklereaders Read Klara and the Sun

Our first ever in person meeting today, in the activity room at the library. A couple of work-based absences, but most of us made it there in person, with a rather modern dial-in on Zoom by one member. It worked, after a fashion.

Remarkably, a majority of us had read the book this time, and most of us enjoyed it, some with reservations. We talked about the major themes in the book, as we saw them – loneliness, the ethics of “lifting”, artificial intelligence and its role in society, what it means to be human, and the ambiguity of much of Ishiguro’s writing.

As a diehard Ishiguro fan, I loved the book and found it very engaging. Others found it difficult to identify or empathise with the Klara as an AI, although we generally felt her to be more sympathetic a character than most of the humans!  There was much to discuss, and I think I’m safe in saying that we would recommend the book to others.

For next time, we will be reading Paradise, by Abdulrazak Gurnah. Born in Zanzibar in 1948 , Abdulrazak Gurnah now lives in the UK and teaches at the University of Kent. Paradise was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker and Whitbread Prizes. Mr Gurnah won the Nobel Prize for literature this year, “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”. We’ll meet at the library, all being well, on Sunday 21 November, 1030-1130. Please do read along and let us know what you think.

Cricklereaders October Meeting

The book chosen for October’s meeting is Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, Kazuo Ishiguro moved to Britain at the age of five. He is a multi-award-winning author, including the Nobel and Booker Prizes. The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go were both made into successful feature films, bringing his work to an even wider audience. Despite his lofty position as a literary author, his works are accessible and very human. Klara and the Sun was described by The Sunday Times as “A masterpiece of great beauty, meticulous control and, as ever, clear, simple prose.”

We will be meeting at the library before this next meeting to view the space and decide collectively whether to hold the next meeting there or continue on Zoom. If you would like to join, please email cricklereaders@cricklewoodlibrary.org.uk.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

We just finished Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. Yaa is Ghanaian American, born in Ghana, brought up in the USA. This is her second book.

Most of the group enjoyed the read, and even those who were less enthusiastic still found something to admire in it. It is an easy read – and the short chapters were a definite plus!
It covers many themes, ranging from drug addiction, the challenges of assimilation in a different culture, racism, prejudice, mental health, religion, friendships, neuroscience and “fitting in”. Some thought there were too many strands to the novel and that it attempted too much. Others found lots to enjoy in the exploration of these themes and were encouraged to try the novelist’s first book, Homecoming. Overall, it was a positive, thumbs-up for Transcendent Kingdom.

Most of us got our copies from West End Lane Books, and we thank them for ordering it in for us.

Next month’s read could not be more different. We’re onto Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. It will be a re-read for some, but new to many.

Happy Birthday, Willesden Green Pop-Up!

It’s the second birthday of our pop-up library at Willesden Green Station. Yes, it’s been two whole years since TfL allowed us to install our shelves and publicity materials at the station. In that time, we estimate we’ve placed over 1000 books. The library gets an approximately 500 visits a week, which is pretty amazing. Most of the stock is provided by Sonja, who also houses our larger collection of around 15,000 books in her garage, and has done for the last four years. The stock is topped up by donations to Sonja (who can also arrange to collect books locally), and by kind and generous supporters who drop books off on their way through the library.

In the time since the Willesden Green pop up was established, two more outposts have sprung up – one in Cricklewood Thameslink station forecourt, and the other in Kilburn Station. Both are restocked by volunteers, and are also very busy and much appreciated by visitors.

Recently, we’ve noticed that replenished stock has been cleared out very quickly – possibly by people not borrowing the books to read, but taking them to sell. There’s not a lot we can do about this, as the books are open access, but if you spot this kind of thing happening, please let the station staff know. Be assured that no-one from the library organisation will ever clear books out of the pop up libraries – we have enough books to stock our library when it finally opens, honest!

In order to help reduce theft, we’re thinking of introducing a stickering system, to make the books less saleable, but this will be labour intensive. If you’ve a better idea, please share! We really want the library to carry on, even after the permanent library is restored opposite Gladstone Park as we know it’s very much valued by residents and commuters. Please help us by continuing to borrow and return books and keeping your library alive.

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