We're not Oprah
I've been part of a book group since 1995, or thereabouts. My original group has long since dissolved, but I'm now part of 2 others. One is very much a book clubby book club, in that we really talk about the books and don't just get together for too much wine and "me time" away from kids and bedtimes and household stuff. Not that I'm above that, because I'm totally not. My other one, with which I'm contemplating breaking up, is comprised of several women whose daughters all go to school together and they spend an inordinate amount of time bashing their kids' teachers and things at school. They are all very interesting women, many of them are very accomplished. We share similar political views, although I've come to realize that many of them who are in a much, much, higher income bracket than we are here at Casa de T, subscribe to more of a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of philosophy. It's a little annoying and I sometimes privately refer to it as their WLG , or White Liberal Guilt.
But, I digress. My other book group, the more "bookish" one, is such a treasure to me. We meet every 4-6 weeks, depending on holidays and how big the book is, at 5pm on Sunday. We vary the time SOMETIMES, but not much, since the 5:00 time just seems to work best for everyone. I like that. In the other groups, we'd try to accommodate everyone, which is impossible and then people would cancel at the last minute and try to reschedule- a nightmare. The way we choose our books is to have a particular meeting dedicated to the choosing of the books. Everyone brings 2-3 possible choices to present to the group. Then, the group votes on them. Then, we assign a month for each person to host. No one is obligated to host at their home- we've met in pubs and coffee shops and parks. If you are unable to host during your month, we go ahead and meet anyway. Light snacks and beverages are the norm, but some really like to cook, so they make more. We've acquired several traditions- one is that every summer or early fall, we have a potluck picnic at this wonderful park overlooking the river. The other is that in December, we do not have a book meeting, but rather a potluck brunch with a gift exchange. Gift exchanges can be kind of dicey, but ours is always a success. People choose well - this year there was kind of a "green" theme, probably as a direct result of our reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Small Wonder". In addition to the gift exchange, we've added another element, which was to find the most awful Christmas sweater we could, and wear it to the brunch. The funniest was one woman's vest- made of Christmas calico, it even had bells or other tchockes sewn to it. She said her husband kind of liked it, which we all had a big laugh over. He didn't get that it was a joke.
So here are our picks for the year:
The Whole Truth, by David Baldacci I know nothing about this book, other than my perception of the author is that he's kind of John Grisham-y.
Little Heathens, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish This looks really good- about growing up on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression.
I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, who also wrote 101 Dalmations
It's the story of a teenaged girl in England in the late 1940's, whose family lives in a decrepit castle. One of those coming-of-age kind of novels.
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott Many of us have never read this classic! We feel we need to. Actually, Claire and I were reading it, and got stuck about halfway through it. I know what's coming, and Claire does not. I fear that Beth's death will hit her pretty hard.
Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett I mentioned this in my previous post- I just got it today- boy what a heavy book it is! I am considering taking it with me to Spain, but the weight of it concerns me.
The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian (sp?) He wrote Midwives, which I did not read, and Trans Sister Radio, which I listened to on tape- a very clever title, since one of the characters was undergoing gender reassignment surgery and the other worked in public radio. Get it? Anyway, I think he's a pretty good author.
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro This is about students at a special school- it seems like a more complicated version of Lois Lowry's The Giver. The students are "told, but not told", as is the reader. I am very intrigued by this book.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genious, by David Eggers It is a memoir, which I've come to be very wary of. David Eggers tells his story of how he had to raise his 3 siblings after the sudden death of both their parents. I understand that Eggers is rather funny, so I hope that will make it less, well, heartbreaking.
Downriver, by John Hart According to Amazon, this book "settles once and for all, the question whether thrillers and mysteries can also be literature."
Water for Elephants, by Sarah Gruen I read this in the other book group and LOVED it, as I mentioned earlier. I highly recommend it.
Lottery, by Patricia Wood This is about a mentally challenged boy who wins the lottery. I predict it will be very Forest Gump-ish.
If I'm of a mind, I will post the runners up later.