Florence Welch has always been known for her extraordinary lung capacity and insane vocal arrangements.
Not to mention her unique hippy queen fashion statements that snapped me out of my emo phase and into my hippy phase (that lasted a lot longer than anticipated). But recently it seems to have become even more public knowledge that she’s also always been a huge lover of literature, from classics to modern romance to comedy following a series of images surfacing of her clutching onto a variety of different books in public places.
Following the release of her debut album, Lungs, it held the inspiration of the book club to come in 2012. Aptly named Between Two Books. The club was set up by fans who noticed her passion for literature and decided to dedicate and honour the group to Florence.
But don’t be put off Between Two Books by thinking it’s just a social group for fans of Florence + The Machine to bond over something other than the music. It’s actually kinda a big deal. It’s been acknowledged by Florence herself and has even led to a friendship being developed between herself and a few of the organisers. The club has even attracted membership from fellow creative friends and musicians; Nick Cave, Isabella Summers and The Maccabees, authors: Emma Forrest, Nayyirah Waheed and Tavi Gevinson.
The club is ever-growing, and over the past five years has reached near 7,000 members on the official Facebook group. We can’t ignore the fact that there are probably more active from a distance and have to include the 75k followers on Instagram that keep up to date with the latest recommended read.
As I said, it isn’t a social club for Florence fans. Sure they make up the basis of the club and without them it probably wouldn’t have been such a success. It’s brought the lost love of reading back to the forefront of society, asking why don’t more people read? A few club members have let me into their motives of joining and it is simply down to being a fan of Florence or hearing their friend (who coincidentally is a fan) constantly talking about these new books they’ve got into. One fan told me they felt like they were in a rut – literature-wise and was feeling a bit disconnected so to read as part of community seemed like a good way to kill two bird with one stone – new reads and new friends. A common trend online seemed to be the influx of members due to Nick Cave’s involvement, he stretches the club to a slightly different genre and audience.
Let’s get to the good stuff; the books. Now, I can’t give you a number for the books they’ve read but after a little bit of research into trying to find a number, I can tell you it’s roughly 40. As a new member to the club myself I’m stuck on ‘Here I Am’ by Jonathan Safran Foer (a recommendation by Nick Cave) and after chatting to a few other people they seem to be too. It’s a hefty, long book but it’s also full of real life; a realistic family with marital issues and break down. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, it’s heart-warming truth of life with comedic surges now and then; quite an interesting recommendation from Cave.
Between Two Books has covered classics such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) as well as shining light upon under the radar authors such as Yrsa Daley-Ward (bone), Nayyirah Waheed (salt) and Haruki Murakami, who by the way, is an incredible Japanese author, writing from the soul in an accessible and easy way (dabble into Norwegian Wood or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle). When speaking to members, salt and bone were two highly recommended books that they themselves have passed onto their friends, but the most interesting reads that I found come from Tupac and Grayson Perry.
Did you know Tupac had written a book? I sure as hell didn’t. ‘The Rose That Grew From Concrete’ is an auto-biographical book of poems by Tupac that gives an insight into how he saw the world, racial tension, police brutality and so much of its content is still relevant today. To the readers, this book meant a lot – beauty can occur in hard places.
‘The Descent of Man’ was a desired read by a number of fans and for some in North America it wasn’t available to read which left a few members in the dark. Grayson Perry explores masculine roles.
“Most violent people, rapists, criminals, killers, tax avoiders, corrupt politicians, planet despoilers, sex abusers and dinner-party bored, do tend to be, well… men” – quote from The Descent of Man.
Grayson Perry has always been an outspoken person and this book just gives a brutally honest insight into male expectations and the illustrations that accompanied the text seemed to make the book more appealing to the readers and even give it more of comedic value.
The point of this book club is to widen people’s literature intake and as seen in this short insight, there is such an eclectic mix of book types, autobiographies, opinionated insights into the world we live in, fact and fiction, humour and romance, this truly is a mash up of reads that could float anyone and everyone’s boat if you’re wanting something new and unusual.
The founders of this book club have created a union between fans and artist as well as each other and opened more minds than we could even attempt on our own. Literature and music is an incredible combination.
Join Between Two Books here
Words by Harriet Willis