Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Club Report, First Book Discussion

Since I began my book club adventure with an appeal to readers of this blog to tell me of their book club experiences, I thought it would be only fair to report in, now that I seem to be launched into this. As I previously reported, the book chosen for our first read was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, something I would never in a month of Sundays have picked up to read of my own choice.  However, almost against my will, I madly loved it.  It's not great literature, but it's a damn good read, a book that crawled right up into my heart, made me laugh out loud as well as tear up a time or two, and feel sad and reluctant when I had to turn the last page. The characters in this epistolary novel were so beautifully delineated through their letters and notes that they were alive and breathing, real and very quirky human beings. 

So, last night the neighborhood women in this book club gathered in Carla's cozy living room to discuss The Guernsey Literary Society, with Paula leading the discussion.  I already knew from our emails that several of the other women loved the book as much as I did (and I knew that Gail did because we read in the same house and have our own discussions right here) but in fact every one of us felt the same way.  The discussion was lively, intelligent, heartfelt, with only a few digressions (and I for one often find digressions quite interesting).  For me one of the best parts of the evening was discovering how interesting and simp├ítica these neighborhood women are.  I knew one of them fairly well, from political co-conspiring during the 2008 elections, but the rest have up till now been people I wave and smile at when we cross paths walking dogs, having yard sales, riding bikes, and so forth. After just two meetings with the purpose of reading together, I feel that we can actually become more than acquaintances, may ultimately become friends.

The most difficult part of last night was figuring out the choice of a new book for next month. It's next to impossible to find a book no one has yet read, and one that we're all interested in reading.  Finally we settled on The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, which Gail and I have actually read.  It was Nancy's strong choice, and she was willing to lead the discussion; so it was late, we were tired, and all said yes to it.  I will have to browse this book again to refresh my memory.  It's quite a compelling novel, especially for someone who lived through pre-Civil Rights days in the South:  Texas, North Carolina and Washington D.C. in my case. It's garnered some controversy, but is still one of the most popular reads in the country after several months as a bestseller. Our own Women On writer Cynthia of the blog Sorting The Pieces read and reviewed it earlier this year, her post will give readers a good idea of the power of this book.


Cynthia said...

I'm dying to hear about the discussion y'all have on this one. I shared it with my co-worker, the mystery reader, and there were tears in her eye when she told me how much she loved the book.

Lisa :-] said...

This is great, Mary Ellen. Not only will you be getting to read some books you might not otherwise have chosen, but you will be buildng a community of friends for yourself, which I think you really need out there in your "new" home.

I wish I had time to interact with other human beings on some level besides as a restaurant owner... :P

emmapeelDallas said...

This gives me hope that my experience will also be wonderful (and I think it will). We don't meet until April, though.

Debra said...


i actually just finished reading "the help" and listed in on, it was snatched up right away as there were over 750 people who had it on their wishlists!

One thing that works for us is not to try to pick a book that no one has read {otherwise we'd not be able to pick anything}. We suggest books that we'd like to read, that we've read and are favorites, that we think might be good reads even if they are out of our comfort zone. We usually do two months of suggestions ahead, that way, we have plenty of time to get it and we aren't too worried if we happen to miss a meeting cuz we know what the next one will be.

those are just suggestions!

I am so delighted this is fun for you, and hope that it continues to be so!

grins, debra
{our book for march is The Little Chinese Seamstress and for april is True Colors by Kristin Hannah}

marigolds2 said...

Thanks for all these great comments and suggestions. Debra, thanks especially for the tips on choosing our books. It was simply mass confusion trying to do this on Tuesday night. Maybe we'll have to have an interim meeting and work on choosing things for two months out.

Lisa, you are so right that I am badly in need of friends here in this alien land - but how in the world did you know this? I try not to whine in public posts about how lost and lonely I am, still - after almost four years - but I am. Discovering that there are women right down the street with whom I share many things is such a comfort.

Cynthia, I will certainly share what happens when we discuss The Help - I know it's going to be a big success for everyone.

Emma - is your book still Ayn Rand? Have you read it? Finished it? I do want to know how this meeting goes when you talk about it.

alphawoman said...

I would love to find a book club. I tried in Lou but it never panned out. I'm reading the most interesting book...I had just glanced over a review for this author and recognized the title and picked it up. Slow going for the first 30 pages or so and now I am thinking of sneaking into the bathroom to read a couple of pages. Has anyone read Stieg Larsson? I began with the middle novel "the girl who played with fire".

marigolds2 said...

No, Mary, I have him on my list right now, however. He has several books, and I want to start with the first one. Have read a lot of good stuff about him.