The Really Popular Book Club: The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
Tuesday 25 April 2023, 7.00pm to 8.00pm BST
The Really Popular Book Club is the reading group hosted by Cambridge University Libraries. Everyone is invited to join them and their special guests to discuss a really popular book, one that we all know and perhaps or perhaps not love.
In April, the University Library's Book Club will be exploring the creative nonfiction book, The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. In October 1991, three weather systems collided off the coast of Nova Scotia to create the “perfect storm”. Junger’s book tells the story of a Massachusetts-based swordfishing boat, the Andrea Gail, and the six crew members who braved those terrible conditions. Junger introduces us to their close-knit community and explains the science behind such a furious storm with a clarity and intensity that makes the most of his talents as an award-winning journalist.
Joining us for the evening will be Dr Midge Gillies, a teacher of creative writing at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. She is the author of over ten non-fiction books, including biographies of the record-breaking pilot, Amy Johnson, and the Edwardian music hall star, Marie Lloyd. Her most recent book is Piccadilly: The Circus at the Heart of London.
About The Perfect Storm, Midge says: “I first read the book on holiday, sitting on a beach on a Greek island. The sea could not have been calmer, and I’m a confident swimmer, but the story of the terrible storm meant there was no way I was going into the water. The Perfect Storm confirmed for me that non-fiction can be every bit as thrilling, descriptive and compassionate as a novel.”
As well as hearing from Midge about her thoughts and observations on the book, the Book Club will once again be opening the floor up to you, their club members, to share your own observations and remarks. To get you thinking and to help prepare any comments or questions you might want to share, we have prepared three starter questions:
- The crime writer Ruth Rendell described The Perfect Storm as an “essay in fear”. Which parts did you find most tense and how did the author build this tension?
- How effective is Junger’s use of other people’s accounts in different circumstances to fill gaps in his story?
- Are there any ethical dilemmas surrounding writing a book, and making money, from a tragedy?
Further information about The Really Popular Book Club, including our FAQs, can be found here.