Delving into all-male bookclub members' minds

[caption id="attachment_37192" align="alignright" width="200"] ALAN STAPLETON[/caption]

LET'S cut this idle chatter and get straight to the chase. Me, an active sport-braai-and-beer loving Sefrican male. I belong to a book club. An eclectic, group of 11 erudite, intellectual, influential idiots who love reading, books and discussion.

A clutch of argumentative lawyers, a VW Driver, money-makers, men of design and builders, one who guides, eye men, drug men ... and me. No, this is not an excuse to get away from wives and have some beer and wine.

No, this is not a cover to secretly pore over porny mags. This, is the Genuine Thing.

By the first Wednesday of the month, the host will have bought and (theoretically) read his R500 worth of books, (theoretically) have prepared a meal, which (theoretically) should not have been touched by female hands.

At about 7pm, the group gathers. Initially some skinner where we get the Oscar Pistorius/Springbok selection junk out of the way. The host then leads the group through his books and the group then debate the merits and de-merits of books which have been read.

Members then select a basket of books to attack.

Once done, supper is served, and debate deepens into serious topics of discussion.

Cecil John Rhodes has been fingered as the man who has caused South Africa most harm, rugby parents are tackled into the walls, and whether academics add value, has been analysed.

But I have a problem. This group is a group of solid men who march the middle road. They like standard stuff.

Good thrillers, biographies, historical dramas. Me, I march to a different literary drum. Why would they not enjoy The Peculiar Children of Miss Peregrine or Koos Kombuis's Secret Diary of God? And I am a squashaholic and wannabe sports philosopher.

Consequently, I don't often get a chance to tell people about the books that I read. So I thought, Dear Reader, you might be a good listener.

  • Sex and Drugs and Squash 'n' Roll by Aubrey Waddy is a fictitious tale of a drop-out's journey into squash and his trials as he climbs the world squash ladder. But this is not just about squash. A light read where Waddy goes behind the squash courts with some juicy off-court entertainment, views on pushy parents and the schizophrenic nature of competitive squash.

  • Raising Big Smiling Squash Kids by Richard Millman should be prescribed reading for every sporting parent, and particularly in South Africa, where we have an almost religious fanaticism about winning. Millman discusses bringing up sporting children playing competitively but with the fun factor of the game always prominent.

  • Last month, Port Elizabeth was fortunate to tap into the mind of South African sports psychologist, Tim Goodenough. His In The Zone collection talks to South African sportsmen and coaches and addresses how they approach the mental state of the game.
And then, he applies these lessons to business and life in general.
  • Matthew Syed's Bounce is the sporting equivalent to Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point  where he analyses the questions of nature vs nurture, and the influence of luck in success.
But, like Sugarman, I am always searching. I am searching for Jonah Barrington's Murder in the Squash Court  which I read years ago. It was once in the Walmer library, but has disappeared. If I find it, I can sell it off to my book club buddies as a whodunnit with clever twists in the tale.