Rotary and Book Club Member Q&A
If you love books and love making a difference around the world, then the ShelterBox Book Club is perfect for you. Recently we spoke to Brian Stewart; committed Rotarian, brilliant Book Club member and published author (find his crime thrillers by searching for BRM Stewart), to find out about his experience of the ShelterBox Book Club, here’s what he had to say:
Where do you get your love of books from?
It really stems from my childhood. We didn’t travel much as a family – certainly no foreign holidays. As a result, the only way to experience exotic places was through reading. Equally, I was basically a coward – still am – so the only way to experience adventure was through books!
Do you have a particular genre that you enjoy reading – is it the same as your writing?
I write crime fiction and I read a lot of that, of course. It’s my go-to comfort reading genre, and probably started away back with Agatha Christie and John Creasey. In recent years my tastes have broadened; I’m up for anything now!
Why did you join the ShelterBox Book Club?
I found out about it through a Rotary email, I think. At the time I was beginning to broaden my reading habits, and the ShelterBox Book Club did this in a very big way. I could immediately see that these were books that I would never ever have picked up by myself. They were by writers from all across the world and set in places well outside any tourist destination. There was also the bonus that I was supporting ShelterBox, of course.
While some of the books have been quite tough to read, they have all broadened my mind. Everyone should read We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai, especially those who complain about ‘illegal immigrants’, and think on what they would do in any of the situations experienced by the people whose stories are in there.
At the same time as I joined the ShelterBox Book Club, Broughty Ferry Rotary formed a book club, and it also is expanding my reading. Recently we read Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart, and currently we’re on Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov (which just missed out on being a ShelterBox pick).
What do you get out of being in ShelterBox Book Club?
I feel like I am part of a community. The process of voting for the book – Catherine (the Head Bookworm) does a great job of giving us that list of choices – and then the discussions at the end are just great. Mainly though, it is reading about the experiences of people from across the world, often people in extreme situations. But also, I’m picking up on the writing styles of those authors.
Broughty Ferry Rotary has donated to ShelterBox for a few years. How are you involved in your club’s fundraising and does it cross-over with your Book Club membership?
I’m involved in almost all of our fundraising in Broughty Ferry Rotary. Certainly, when we have a collection for an international disaster, including Ukraine, I’ll be there! The concept of ShelterBox – and the image of the box itself, even though actual support is more flexible than that – gives a clear focus to people when we’re asking for money.
Like most clubs, we’ve moved towards giving direct support in the community rather than writing cheques, though supporting ShelterBox and Foundation will always be a high priority.
Can you see the ShelterBox Book Club being popular with Rotarians in future and why?
Rotarians are concerned with what is happening around the world, and love the international sense of community that Rotary brings. In that sense Rotarians who haven’t encountered the ShelterBox Book Club yet would find it very appealing. After all, it’s an interesting book every few weeks and a painless donation to ShelterBox and the amazing work it does.
Did you know you can gift a Book Club membership? Do you think it would make a good present for Rotarians?
Yes indeed – great idea! I know in my family we try to give experiences rather that ‘things’, and Shelterbox Book Club counts highly in those terms.