The most recent Cardiff Blogs meet up was themed around local projects which people commit themselves to purely out of the love and enjoyment which they get out of it and not for the money. (In hindsight, it would have been the icing on the cake to have Jessie J perform). However I am skeptical about that idea, because even though the projects aren't benefiting fiscally, the endeavour isn't purely altruistic. Mainly because the person in question is receiving a lot of free self-promotion from it, which is just as crucial as the monetary rewards to a brands success. I don't make any money from my personal blog, but I hold my hands up and confess that I don't do it purely for love. I do love blogging yes, but I want people to read what I write and validate it. This is not love. This is an aspiration where I am the only beneficiary. It's selfish. And there's nothing wrong with being selfish in your ambitions. I would just rather not hide behind the veneer of Sainthood.
But one local project, which I think comes the closest to the concept of collective benefiting is Cardiff Read, an informal book club who meet once a month in Canton. Jessica Best @JessicaBest87 started the group in March 2010 in order to meet fellow book worms in a relaxed atmosphere, which wasn't as regimented as other clubs she had experienced previously. At the first meeting she met Steve Dimmick @TheDimmick (who has since co-organised the club with her) and in just over a year they've successfully coordinated a consistent and vibrant meet-up of people who enjoy literature and a good chat over a glass (or two) of red.
What I like most about Cardiff Read is that it's not essential to have read the entire book, or even a page. It can be just as invigorating to sit and listen to the discussion while meeting new people and then going away with a renewed motivation to read that month's book choice with an enriched foundation of eclectic opinions. Another important aspect of the club which makes it stand out, is the online interaction in the downtime between meetings. The discussion continues via the Twitter feed @CardiffRead where people can make observations while they're reading, contextualise with links to the authors/reviews and most recently people have been arranging to borrow copies of that months book if others were struggling to obtain theirs.
They've also started asking the people who have chosen that months title to write a brief couple of paragraphs pertaining to why they picked it and then having another member review it with their (often conflicting) opinion. This is then featured on their Facebook page. Yours truly took the reins for September's choice with Galt Niederhoffer's The Romantics. (Which if you continue to scroll you will find at the bottom of this post). In true Cardiff Read form, Caitlin Allen @CaitlinLA89 felt compelled to detail her response to the novel on her (very eloquently written) blog soon after: Your friends already know you're awful. Which only gives more credence to the online ripples Cardiff Read has been so successful in creating and maintaining.
If you want to find out more about the club, Jessica was recently interviewed for a guest post on the @CdfBlogs community blog Cardiff Blogs - Guest Post Cardiff Read. Or you can read on for my flagrant disregard for pretentious literary opinions.
Choosing 'The Romantics'
(For more discussion on this topic request Cardiff Read as a friend and read it here)
"When Cardiff Read asked me to pen the reasoning behind my choice for last month’s book club, naturally I began to concoct a fictitious list of pretentious opinions which drew me to Galt Niederhoffer’s acerbic novel. (However as it turns out, fabricating literary insights is exhausting). So instead the simple and honest reason is that I caught the trailer for the film adaptation online and after discovering that it wasn’t yet released in the UK, I bought the book to bide my time. While I concede that a group of college friends reuniting at a wedding is hardly original, I was reeled in by the emotional torment of unrequited love. As a dating blogger it’s a concept which I examine frequently and I was particularly interested in the idea that friendship and rivalry often go hand in hand.
While reading the ‘The Romantics’, I found the authors insights into the group’s perceptions of each other to be both brutal and refreshing. It certainly isn’t a comfort to think that your friends harbour such candid opinions of you, but I’m of the belief that being honest about flaws is cathartic and it’s certainly essential in a friendship if you are to achieve unconditional love. In fact my fickle response to the characters almost mirrored the real friendships I have, in that I was in a perpetual state of falling in and of love with them.
After reading the book I found myself giving the most credence to Lila’s character, particularly her view on unrequited love. “It’s the perfect romantic construct. It allows two cowardly people to act out a fantasy of love without having to face any real consequences.” It truly is the measure of a good book for me when I’m confronted with a different perspective on a topic and I intend on exploring cowardliness in love for a future blog post. So to conclude, I was captivated by the prose, and style of Niederhoffer’s cynical satire, which some people will probably call an easy read. But as @Lizmrawlins would say, "the book doesn’t have to be War and Peace".