The last book club I was in was amazing and crazy all at the same time. (Are there any book clubs that aren't at least a little crazy?) Most of the women in the club had small children. We were lucky enough to be able to meet in a penthouse apartment in downtown Ithaca that belonged to the parents of a club member. This apartment was not only gorgeous, it was a kid-free oasis. Going to book club in that place at that time of my life felt like going to a spa.
Five Books We Read
- Anna Karenina (A gorgeous edition. Loved this.)
- Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House (Loved this. With two small children at home, the concept of order and science and solutions at home was super appealing.)
- Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable (HATE. I think this was the book that drove me out of the book club. Go ahead and read the description. Would you have stayed in the club?)
- Middlemarch (I loved this. I freely admit that I skimmed/skipped most of the descriptive passages which means I read about 1/3 of the book, but it's wonderful.)
- Arcadia (I don't like reading plays. I loved reading this one.)
- Theme food. One person brought food that somehow coordinated with the book's theme. You don't want to know what we had when we read The Red Tent. It was mostly delicious, though, and most importantly, it was grown up food!
- The view. The penthouse view was breathtaking at night, especially when it was snowing.
- The leader packets. One person led the discussion and usually came prepared with questions, background info, and other interesting tidbits. I learned a lot in this book club.
- The grown-up conversation about grown-up books.
- Being forced to read books I wouldn't have chosen. As weird as it sounds, I really did love that housekeeping manual (#2 above) and I never would have picked it up. Same with Arcadia. And Middlemarch. And a bunch of others.
- The theme food. I'm cooking challenged on a good day. Having to prepare delicious, sophisticated food that somehow matched a book? Drove me nuts. (Luckily M&Ms are the new black.)
- The night when my car broke down on the way to book club and then my husband called me three times to tell me about the bird that flew down our chimney and was nesting in the fireplace and then after hitching a ride home, having to chase that same bird through our house in an effort to make it GO BACK OUTSIDE TO NATURE.
- People who didn't read the books. (I went to Catholic school. I do my homework.)
- Bickering about which books to pick next.
- Bickering about everything.
A gin club.
I'd like to say we were playing cards, but we were actually drinking gin. Correction: we were tasting gin. That makes it more respectable, right? We tasted some excellent gin. (Also some well-dressed gin.) But then the gin club experienced some issues with over-indulgence and it wasn't fun anymore so once again we splintered.
And that was when three of us formed up into a critique group. A writing group. We were still sipping gin and still discussing books, but now they were our own books! I miss being in a book club, but I love my critique group.
What about you? I already know you love reading, but are you in a book club? I love to hear your stories. Give me a top 5 list from your book club or other club. What's the best book you were ever forced to read? Have you read Ella Minnow Pea and did it make you rage? Ever make theme food to match a book or movie night?
I have a book out this month, so here is the obligatory tie-in with my book section of the blog post: I don't think it's a spoiler to reveal that Deacon Fallon, the hero of The Long Shot (May 2012), is illiterate. I never write about actual people I know, but I often write about themes or situations I'm working through. Because I have a son with a mild learning disability and I work in communication, I think about literacy and how it impacts inclusion and access to many aspects of life from basic services all the way up to the independent joy of reading for pleasure. That contemplation is where Deacon's issues came from.
WIN BOOKS: I'll choose 4 commenters to receive a copy of The Long Shot. Maybe you'll read it and join me for the book club chat on 5/30!