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How the Digital Book Club Works

Action for Elders DBC – Digital Book Club will take place once a month with each episode conducted online on Zoom.

This is a great place to meet and socialise with like-minded people, make new friends, share experiences and to talk about the books that really mean something to you .

Authors and Writers 

Tell us about your latest work or a book that has inspired you.

We will be adding author interviews, book reviews and asking for your book recommendations.

Keep an eye on this page for further news.


Book titles

The participants each submit their book title choice

About the books

Each person talks for two minutes about their chosen book.

Question time

After each person has spoken, the rest of the group take part in a fun and friendly discussion about the speaker’s recommendation.

Marking the books

Each person then awards marks out of 5 as to whether they would read the book based on the recommendations and answers to questions.

And the winner is…

The monthly winner is the one with the most points who then receives a £10 book token.

Winners are entered into the “Reader of the Year” annual draw, chosen by Action for Elders at a special DBC Awards ceremony.

Would you like to participate?

Would you like to participate in one of our monthly broadcasts? All you need is access to Zoom and to enjoy books and reading.

We are always looking for people with fresh ideas and titles, or simply for people who want to watch and enjoy them as they come along.

Sign up to get early notification of our upcoming events and for further information about what went on.

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Books of the Month

Breaking the Age Code – Dr Becca Levy (Vermillion/Penguin)

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) ageism is the most widespread and socially accepted prejudice today. Dr Becca Levy, Yale Professor and pioneer in the field of later life studies, sets out to further our understanding of the complicated subject of ageing.

Levy succeeds in challenging stereotypes: “mental illness is much less common in older than in younger adults and most older persons with mental illness can be successfully treated,” offering persuasive evidence to show that in later life we grow in emotional intelligence.

The central theme here is ‘Age Beliefs’, simply put this is about challenging the conventional perception of what it is to be old. Levy maintains negative age beliefs are not only a barrier to good mental health, they are ingrained within society. Looking in detail at our own inbuilt prejudices and cultural stereotyping, Levy successfully argues against assumptions that ageing is purely a degenerative process, pointing out the positive attitude to ageing in Japan; a country with the world’s longest healthy lifespans.

One of the most engrossing chapters is ‘Later Life Mental Health Growth.’ A real eye opener; it boldly challenges the assumption that lethargy and depression are standard features of normal ageing. Founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud comes in for criticism for his attitude to older patients, yet Levy believes structural ageism in the field of mental health care, like our own individual negative age beliefs is reversable.

Meticulously researched and packed with surprising insights, Breaking The Age Code isn’t some dusty intellectual textbook, it’s highly readable, entertaining and enlightening from cover to cover.

Above all, this is a book about ageing as positive human development. It will completely change the way you look at later life.

John Coleman

Breaking the Age Code book cover
Scattered all over the Earth - Yoko Tawada - February Book of the Month

Scattered all over the earth book coverI must admit to being partial to Japanese writers. They have a lightness of touch and a strangeness of culture that makes them quite different from their European and American counterparts.

Yoko Tawada’s book, Scattered all over the earth is no exception. It is set in Denmark, Germany the South and France and Norway, but is actually all about the mystery of language.

Tawada uses different protagonists to provide their own slant on what language is and how it is understood, starting with Hiruko, who believes Japan has vanished and she has lost all touch with people who speak her mother tongue. The story is ostensibly about her search for people who might understand her and be able to converse with her. The cast of a linguist, a Greenlander, a broken hearted lover and someone in transition from one gender to another form Hiruko’s supporting group inher search for her lost language speakers. By highlighting the different ways we appropriate language, she shows how our pre-existing culture interferes with our understanding of the world around us.

If you are thinking this makes it a complicated book, it does not. The story of the friends’ developing lives as they join in the search for another Japanese speaker, the mysterious Susanoo, is lightly done and easy to follow. There are encounters with an umami cooking competition; a dead whale; an ultra-nationalist named Breivik; unrequited love; Kakuzo robots; red herrings; uranium; an Andalusian matador in the course of their travels.

For some people the odd way the world is made up may be too much. This is clearly a Others will find this way of seeing enchanting. It is also a story about a group of young people, who have the freedom to travel and enjoy their lives and nothing to hold them in one place.

Elsewhere, it is suggested that the book may be part of a trilogy. I hope so as it would then make more sense of the ending, which is rather abrupt and leaves you wondering “what next?” rather than fulfilled.

Richard Hill

I am Not Sidney Poitier - Percival Everett - January Book of the Month

Ii am not Sidney Poitier book cover

A chance visit to the library introduced me to this wickedly funny attack on racism in the USA. Though the topic is serious, the writing is the opposite. It is full of lightness and eccentricity.

The context is a young Black boy whose mother dies when he is eleven, leaving him with fabulous wealth and the name Not Sidney Poitier. We learn that he has all the looks of the great American actor and that his mother had successfully invested in the Turner Corporation with the result that our hero is both the protégé of Ted Turner and constantly being mistaken for the man he is not.

The adventures that follow show a US social hierarchy unable to balance “Not Sidney’s” skin colour with his wealth. The adventures he gets up to mirror some of Sidney Poitier’s most prominent films, such as Guess Who is Coming to Dinner and The Defiant Ones.

This is not a didactic novel, but it parodies the hardships that black people face in the USA. It also highlights the twisted relationship between the US worship of wealth and poor white poverty.

If I have any gripes, it is that the novel could have gone on a little longer (is that really a gripe?) and that a good working knowledge of Sidney Poitier’s films will aid the critical reader. Not knowing anything about the latter will make absolutely no difference to your enjoyment of this thoroughly enjoyable book.Published by Grey Wolf Press and available in paperback, both the book and the author deserve to be much more widely known.

Richard Hill

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout - Book of the Month
Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth StroutThis delightful novel tells of Olive Kitteridge’s life in the small seaside town of Crosby, Maine. Different chapters reflect the small, daily vicissitudes and dramas of other inhabitants, but Olive’s name is the thread that ties them all together.

Olive, an ex-teacher at the local school, still manages to terrify her ex-pupils with her pragmatic, indomitable character.

Unfortunately, her forceful nature results in a detrimental relationship with her son and his wives. Henry, her husband, is a delightful antidote to her acerbic personality, though their relationship, like many long-standing unions, has evolved into a fairly pedestrian affair. However, Olive’s reliance on him is apparent towards the end of the novel.
For the most part, Strout conjures up a picture of small-town America, somewhat in the style of Anne Tyler. Nevertheless, her skill extends to lyrical descriptions of the movement of wind and waves and weather which add an extra dimension to the atmosphere she creates.

Occasionally, Strout propels the reader into the more unpalatable reality of modern living. Bizarrely, Olive and Henry find themselves held hostage in a hospital where Olive, in extremis, had sought to find a loo. Strout’s description of all the characters cleverly describes the visceral fear of the hostages and the terror of the youth who trains his gun on them.

The nuances of human interaction on every level are carefully explored, the expectations, the disappointments and the tragedies. In fact, this book is a hugely enjoyable immersion into the everyday lives of ordinary people, beautifully written and happily followed by a sequel, Olive Again.

Lindsay Davies

A Foreign Country - Charles Cumming - May Book of the Month

Charles Cummings a Foreign CountryWhy would the head of MI6 disappear six weeks before she is due to take up her post?

That’s the question, semi-retired agent, Thomas Kell, is brought back to investigate. Anyone who has read John le Carre will recognise Kell as one of those essential British agents, entirely dependable and yes disillusioned, tired and over the hill. At the time of its publication in 2013, the book won several prizes. It was winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year, selected by Sunday Times Books of the Year and by the Guardian as Best Thriller of the Year.

The suspense remains high as Kell tracks Amelia Levene through France and North Africa, throwing up clues about her history, as he is constantly shadowed by dangerous foreign intelligence services.

In his books, Charles Cumming specialises in the dirty, double-crossing nature of the spying business and this is no exception. When even your boss can’t be trusted and it’s hard to tell your friends from your enemies, spying turns out to be a dangerous business. If you like your plots twisted and your spies to be badly behaved, then you will find this book hard to put down.

Published by Harper Collins in various formats.

Richard Hill

A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles - Cornerstone - April Book of the Month

Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow is one of those charming feelgood books that only come along occasionally, the ones that you immediately want to share with your friends and family. It is our April Book of the Month.

At the start of the book, we learn that the hero, Count Alexander Rostov, is a victim of the purges that followed the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. He is sentenced to house arrest on 21 June, 1922 and only escapes execution because he is thought to have created a revolutionary poem earlier in the century. His punishment is to be banned from leaving the precincts of the Hotel Metropole in Red Square, Moscow in perpetuity.

From this unpromising start, Amor Towles manages to build an intriguing world. By reducing his world to the microcosm of the hotel, we are allowed to view the massive changes that grip 20th century Russian history through a calm, well-ordered prism. Rather than a prison, the hotel becomes a sanctuary for those who live and work there. The supporting cast of employees, Russian state officials, guests and visitors, who include a small child and a glamorous actress, give the Count a sense of purpose and pleasure in his life quite different to the one that he experienced in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Quite how the author, a former US banker, understands the Russian idiom is one of the wonders of this almost perfect novel. It is also beautifully paced and structured with every detail relevant immediately or to the plot in the future.

There is a great contentment to be had in reading this story. It is about the hope that comes from mutual understanding and respect, while the upheavals of the world seep through the corridors and rooms of the Hotel Metropole.

Published by Cornerstone Books and available in paperback, this book is a joyful read. As likely as not, you will want to buy copies for your friends after you read it.

Review by Richard Hill

The Heavenly Table - Donald Ray Pollock - March Book of the Month

The Heavenly Table - Donald Ray Pollock - Book CoverRude and frequently outrageous, our March Book of the Month is not for the squeamish. It certainly is for people who like their humour dark, their stories gritty and their tales tragic.

Cane, Cob and Chimney Jewett are young Georgia sharecroppers held under the thumb of their father, Pearl, a man with the strange and strong religious beliefs which give the book its title, Heavenly Table.

Their father dies unexpectedly and this releases the three young men to head through the mid-west towards Canada, pillaging, killing and robbing on the way. Our unlikely heroes are inspired by myths of the great US outlaws that come from the only book they have ever read. They soon find themselves pursued by the authorities and bounty-hunters alike, but it is not long before you realise that the posses, farmers, townsfolk and incidental characters of the novel are as hilariously disreputable as the brothers themselves.

Don’t be put off by this. With this tragic and comic narrative that everyone is out for him or herself driving the book forward, you gradually realise that this world is probably closer to the reality of the mid-West of the USA at the end of the First World War than any John Wayne or Gary Cooper movie you may have seen. By setting the young men’s story against the background of the rapidly changing USA of the First World War, the author is suggesting that the outlaws are already creatures the past, ghosts of the America of the previous century. With a cast of characters of all races and sexual preferences, he reminds us that our attitudes to humanity are more universal than we give ourselves credit for.

Published by Vintage Books and available in paperback.

Piranesi - Susanna Clarke - February Book of the Month

Piranesi book coverThis strangely beautiful story by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell creates a world of the imagination. Part Robinson Crusoe, part Borges’ labyrinth, this secretive world appears, at first, to be inhabited by only two people. It is an imagination of statues and endless tide-washed rooms where the ocean thunders up and down the stairs.

Piranesi, the eponymous hero, lives happily in this world believing that he and “the Other” are the only two survivors. Then he begins to find messages and his world starts to unravel. There are lost texts to be found and secrets to be unlocked. Piranesi’s Man Friday has more to him than meets the eye.

We watch as Piranesi begins to realise that his world is not as it appears to be and that it holds some terrible secrets.

This is a tragic book about loss of innocence in the pursuit of knowledge. It is also beautifully written and constructed and Susanna Clark’s pacing of the disentangling mystery is superb. You may find the first 50 pages puzzling, but if you like your worlds to be well-imagined, your revelations to be gradual, truths shocking and mysteries engaging, you will find this an alluring read.

The book was the winner of the Women’s Prize in 2021. Published by Bloomsbury and available in hardback, paperback, Kindle and as an audio book.

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