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The Really Popular Book Club is Cambridge University Libraries' book group. Everyone is welcome to come and discuss a really popular book with the group, library staff, and an expert on the novel. Hosted on Zoom, the book club is completely free and open to everyone, people attend from all over the world. 

The Really Popular Book Club celebrates the huge range of books at Cambridge University Library. We have more than 8 million books and as a legal deposit library we keep a copy of every book published in the UK, and have done since 1710.

In April we 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, we want you to share your own observations and remarks. To get you thinking and to help prepare any comments or questions, we have prepared three starter questions: 

1. 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?
2. How effective is Junger’s use of other people’s accounts in different circumstances to fill gaps in his story?
3. Are there any ethical dilemmas surrounding writing a book, and making money, from a tragedy?

If you haven't attended one of our book club events before, you can find more information at

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger is available in hardback, ebook, audio download and audio CD formats, borrowable from public libraries or to purchase. To see what printed and digital copies are available from Cambridge University Libraries (borrowable by University staff and students), search iDiscover.

Where: Online via Zoom Meetings

Registration: Free, booking essential. REGISTER HERE

Date: Tuesday 25 April 2023

7pm to 8pm