My book club met last week and we picked our next two books (for February and March). We also discussed having just a little bit more structure. We've been pretty loosey goosey for the last year or so. Mostly the changes are around how we select the next read and how much time we spend socializing at meetings vs. actually discussing the book.
We noted that the amount of time spent socializing is usually directly related to how good the book was and how anxious we were to actually discuss it. We decided that meetings start at 7:00, discussion starts promptly at 7:30. Then we have 1.5 hours to discuss. If the book was engaging, we will use the whole time. If it was not, we can re-convene the socializing and/or call it an evening.
We used to just have anyone who wanted to, bring a book or two to recommend and then we all just sort of agreed on one for the next month. They way it has worked out is that those of us who enjoy recommending books were the ones who were really driving the reading selections. Part of the reason why many of us joined the book group was so that we could get exposed to books that we might normally not have chosen for ourselves. We are thinking about having the person who hosts the group that night make the selection of the next book. It would be strongly suggested that they choose one on their own, but other people can come with ideas in case the hostess doesn't have anything to recommend, then she can choose from what others have suggested.
So I'm hosting in March and therefore may get to pick the book for April. If you have any suggestions,
I'd love to hear them. For February, we are reading A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. Apparently there are some interesting comparisons between this story and King Lear. I'm going to explore that before I start reading (I just ordered the book so I won't get it until next week). One of the contributions I would like to make (and being the English major that I am) is to bring thoughts and questions about how the book relates to other works or to other situations. Depending on the book it is also interesting to bring some historical context to the discussion (like when we read The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant).
In March we will be reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It is a story about a guy who joins a Depression-era circus. This is what I would call a departure for me so I'm really looking forward to it. It also only out in hardback which is not something that we normally do in our book club.
I'm thinking of 2 suggestions in case I get to choose for our April read. My first choice is The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer, a story about a fatherless boy who grows up around bars and learns many lessons there. The other choice that I'm thinking about is Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This story is difficult to describe, but takes place in Nigeria and is about a family with many issues.
I love my books. It's like an addiction for me. I can't get enough to read. I even love going to book stores just to be around new books. I love the way they feel and the way the binding cracks just a bit the first time it is opened.
Right now I'm reading Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl
along with my 13 year old son who is reading with his 8th grade class.
I have read it a couple of times already but it is the kind of story
that you just need to read over and over again in different stages of
your life to really appreciate. I'm enjoying the story again. Clearly a
timeless story. My older son will be reading The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (an interesting choice for an all boys school, 10th grade class, don't you think?). They are reading White Fang by Jack London
right now. I'm thinking that there will be a compare and contrast
assignment somewhere down the line with this clearly masculine theme
paired with the female dominated story of The Joy Luck Club. But that's
just my guess.
My book club just finished The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. Here is a summary of the plot:
A snowstorm immobilizes Lexington, Ky., in 1964, and when young Norah Henry goes into labor, her husband, orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Henry, must deliver their babies himself, aided only by a nurse. Seeing his daughter's handicap, he instructs the nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her to a home and later tells Norah, who was drugged during labor, that their son Paul's twin died at birth. Instead of institutionalizing Phoebe, Caroline absconds with her to Pittsburgh. (taken from the Amazon listing)
While I was totally entertained and interested in the story, it certainly wasn't on my top books list. It is wrapped up a bit to neatly at the end for my taste. There are several side stories that are honestly more interesting than the main story which was disappointingly uncomplicated. One of the book club ladies said that it was a perfect made-for-TV-movie. I don't think that's far from the truth. It should be a beach read, not what I'm looking for in a dead of winter read.
I haven't posted much about my reading preferences and this post makes me want to let you in on what I've read and really enjoyed. When I go over to someone's house, I love to look at what is on their bookshelf. I think it is like getting a view into someone's personality that would be difficult and time consuming to get any other way.