Why did prestigious Parisian hotel ‘Le Bristol’ name a hot-chocolate drink after author Paulo Coelho?

Beaumaris Rotary’s Top Book Picks 

Your Beaumaris Rotary Club Correspondent isn’t what you’d call a ‘voracious reader’.  But she’s always on the look-out for new book recommendations.  So, you can imagine her excitement when she heard Club Member, Kerrie Geard, had started a new book club!  

It wasn’t long before she was devouring the first book club recommendation – ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens. 

What book are you reading? 

Your Club Correspondent has an inquisitive mind.  Curious to know, she asked Members, “Do you have a favourite book?”

Historical.  Drama.  Non-fiction.  To illustrate the breadth of Members’ book leanings, here’s a ‘preview’ of some Members’ book choices.  In no order of preference:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Actress, Julia Roberts, said in a 2001 television documentary about Coelho, “It’s like music, really, the way that he writes, it’s so beautiful.” 

The Alchemist is a story of Santiago; an Andalusian shepherd boy on a journey to realise his dreams. It’s a story that’s inspired people all around the world to live their dreams.  

Club Member, Bridget Hage, has a special connection with the book. “It’s my all-time favourite,” says Bridget, “Because it was given to me by a high school student in his final year; following a summer holiday mentoring program with me.”

To learn why ‘Le Bristol’ hotel in Paris named a hot-chocolate drink after Coelho read: www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/05/07/the-magus

Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln

A story of secret societies; the Knights Templar; deposed French kings; the Cathars of the High Middle Ages; and cryptically coded parchments that reveal one of the best-kept secrets of Christendom?  It is a modern-day Grail quest.  Sounds familiar?  It should! 

According to Club Member, Max Darby, “It’s the original historical, accurate and credible text that formed the basis of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown.”

Read more at: www.nytimes.com/2004/02/22/books/the-last-word-the-da-vinci-con.html

Bruny by Heather Rose

No book list would be complete without a story based in Australia.  In her latest novel, Heather Rose turns her attention to the quiet Tasmanian island of Bruny, which is just a short ferry ride from her home in Hobart and where she grew up.

But if you’re expecting this novel to depict a peaceful country existence, think again!  It’s an explosive thriller that opens with a terrorist attack.  A love story set in a modern political context.  

“This novel is especially relevant in today’s climate,” says Club Member, Mary Cunningham. 

Read about the prize-winning novelist: www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/07/heather-rose-when-i-get-lost-in-my-imagination-i-dont-feel-the-pain

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Do you prefer your fiction thrillers in the style of ‘The Bourne Identity’ by Robert Ludlum?  Or ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ by John le Carré?  If you want a breathless, fast page-turning story of non-stop suspense and action, then ‘I Am Pilgrim’ is for you! 

“My favourite crime thriller of all time,” says Club Member, Richard Jones.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/books/i-am-pilgrim-by-terry-hayes.html

Atonement by Ian McEwan

In 2008, English novelist and screenwriter, Ian McEwan was rated amongst “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945” by The Times newspaper.  What makes McEwan so popular? 

According to Geoff Dyer of The Guardian, “McEwan is an invisible rather than a flamboyant stylist.”

“These were hardly hills that spread so expansively before them.  They were ripples in the landscape, faint echoes of vast upheavals elsewhere.  Each successive ridge was paler than the one before.  He saw a receding wash of grey and blue fading in a haze toward the setting sun, like something oriental on a dinner plate.”

“His prose is spare yet incredibly evocative of time and place,” echoes Club President, Adrian Culshaw. 

Read more at:  www.theguardian.com/books/2001/sep/22/fiction.ianmcewan

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Kremlin critics tread a dangerous path.  Ask Moscow opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.  Victim of a recent botched murder attempt by poisoning.

Red Notice is a true story of financial high jinks, murder and, ultimately, a political crusade.  It follows the entangled paths of Russian attorney Sergei Magnitsky and American financier and author Bill Browder. 

“It’s a real thriller-like story,” explains Kerry Geard, “It led to the U.S. Congress passing the Magnitsky Act of 2012.  The Act allows the U.S. to freeze assets and impose visa sanctions on officials; punishing human rights violators.” 

Read more at:


Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Want to learn the tools and tricks of the masters?  Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Joyce, Woolf, Chekhov … 

According to Club Member, Greg Every, Reading Like a Writer’ is a valuable companion for a writer.  It is a masterclass by Francine Prose.  She reminds the writer that every page was once a blank page.

“I would lend it to you,” says Greg. “Only, it’s effectively a textbook for me.  And, therefore, one that I mark up with an orange highlighter.”

Read an interview with Francine Prose: www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/08/close-reading/305038/

The Resilience Project by Hugh Van Cuylenburg  

“Like everybody else, I slept on the floor.” Hugh Van Cuylenburg’s personal story starts in a remote Indian village on the edge of a high-altitude desert plain ringed by snow-capped peaks. “Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty of the Ladakh region.”  

“This book brings reality to life,” says Megan Glenwright, “We are all feeling hard done by, not being able to see family and friends. Cuylenburg talks about gratitude, empathy and mindfulness.  And how much we have to be thankful for.” 

Listen to Cuylenburg at:


Eight remarkably different books representing the breadth of Club Members’ reading.  Your Club Correspondent remarks; simply by knowing someone’s reading choices can open our eyes to their perspectives.  She leaves you with one final honourable mention worthy of reading. 

French women don’t get facelifts by Mireille Guiliano.  A recent favourite of Bridget Hage, “Because it’s practical for my age group!” 

PS To learn the answer to the question: Why did a prestigious Parisian hotel name hot-chocolate drink after author Paulo Coelho? read The Zahir by Paulo Coelho.

Want to join our Club? Please contact our Membership Director: Megan Glenwright (find details by following this link Contact Us).