Two recent book group reads have been Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World, a fairly scholarly biography of William Shakespeare, which most of the group liked and one or two really loved. I found it interesting and informative, although given the dearth of information about Shakespeare in the historical records, the image one gains is not complete, more a somewhat shadowy figure, partially glimpsed. It has inspired me to get hold of Germaine Greer's Shakespeare's Wife, which seems on a quick dip, to give a completely different view of the wife whom Greenblatt almost dismissess as being totally unimportant to Shakespeare the playwright. Both writers send one back to the plays, but these are best viewed in performance, not just read, and preferably well-performed at that.
The last book group discussion was on The life of Pi, by Yann Martel, which won the Booker prize in 2002. I loved this for its sheer imaginative detail; the writing just carried me along, wanting to know exactly how Pi survived sharing the lifeboat with Richard Parker the bengal tiger, and admiring him for his tenacity and courage. I had wanted to read this when it first appeared, but life got in the way as it does. Now I'm glad I have.
My current read is Robert MacFarlane's The Wild Places, a story of the writer's exploration of wild places in Britain and our necessity for them. The writing is beautiful, evocative and makes one appreciate any small patch of wilderness in one's locality. Living in a city, yet with common land and other sorts of wilderness within walking distance, I envied the author his visits to the further reaches of the British Isles.