Going virtual and a date for your diary

Well this novel virus is bringing many changes to our working and personal lives, so it was time for yet another new experience with our GEH Wellbeing Reading Group going virtual. Our group has been growing steadily and meeting monthly for just over a year so to maintain momentum and meet safely we thought a virtual meeting might be a solution. We’ve had mixed experiences of Microsoft Teams so far so were a bit apprehensive but heartened so many colleagues were prepared to join in and give it a go. We set a very casual agenda and a ground rule or two, took a deep breath and dived in.

We normally discuss the same book but several colleagues were too busy with contingency planning before lockdown to collect copies of the Danish Girl so decided to chat more generally about our experiences of reading over the last few weeks. Many of us mentioned finding it hard to concentrate at the start of the pandemic. New authors or books with storylines too close to home were hastily cast aside. Instead colleagues sought solace in familiar authors and favourite genres. There was a definite feeling that books provided sanctuary from the constant news – a comfort blanket for these challenging times. Some of us have switched to non-fiction whilst others are dipping in and out of books and have several on the go. Chatting about what we had each been reading it seems we’ve all been able to read a bit more as the weeks have gone on. For a few of us lockdown has also meant an opportunity to catch up with books we received at Christmas.

We discovered we’ve been reading an eclectic range of books from historical and crime fiction to books about geese! Recommendations included:

Mythos by Stephen Fry

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The QI Book of General Ignorance

Beyond Coincidence by Martin Plimmer, Brian King and

Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind by Tom Holland which examines the influence and legacy of Christianity on our thinking from Ancient Times to our increasingly secular society.

Some of us had managed to finish and enjoy the Danish Girl or had seen the film. There was a lot of empathy for Einar (Lili) and how hard it must have been for him to not understand why he felt the way he did back in the 1920s. We also wondered if Einar had been exploited by Dr.Warnekros in the name of science.

Really can’t believe we covered so much and such a broad range of topics in just 30 minutes. It was so lovely to catch up with colleagues after almost two months. Apart from a few initial glitches as 9 of us joined the call it went well. We’ve scheduled our next online meeting for 30th June at 12.30pm.

It’s not possible to borrow book sets from Warwickshire Libraries whilst they are closed so we decided as a group to read a classic for our next virtual discussion providing it’s not a George Eliot! Don’t think any of us have the stomach for our namesake’s heftier tomes at the moment. We’ve made an executive decision to save multiple emails flying back and forth to read the Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald as it’s short and hopefully sweet. We’ve added the Great Gatsby to our library ebook collection so that everyone can access it. Here’s how to read or download a copy online:

Click on the link https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/georgeeliot/detail.action?docID=5302447

Sign in with your GEH OpenAthens username or email address and password

Click on the tab “Read Online” or “Download Book”

Click on the tab “Download PDF”.

It’s available to download for free with any PDF reader (Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Digital Editions or a Bluefire Reader).

If your GEH OpenAthens account has expired or you need to register then you can sign up here  – it’s free and takes just a few minutes.

Thank you again everyone for taking part. It was a lovely interlude in our busy days and great to see you all. Look forward to seeing you all on 30th June @ 12.30pm. Please do spread the word and let us know if any colleagues would like to read along and join us.