Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Art of Book Clubs - Part I "The Members"

Why didn't I belong to a book club that would read this book?  Seriously.

NOTE:  I am no longer allowed to join book clubs because I quit them all.  I have been a fickle member in four book clubs so far and don't miss any of them.  That being said, I am still an avid reader and LOVE to read. 

A student made this fabulous poster. I hope her reading enthusiasm isn't dampened by book clubs.
Join me in Part I of "The Art of Book Clubs:  The Members"  (I am only going to focus on one of the clubs.  Otherwise this blog would become longer than Roots and The Thorn Birds combined.)

About ten years ago, my uncle, sister-in-law, and I joined an established book club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It was held at a hip, independent bookstore.  We thought it would be a thread to tie us together every month.    We would make a fun evening of it.  First, dinner at Pasta Tree graciously served by our favorite waiter, Orange Robb.  (He was an early devotee of self-tanner.) Dinner would be followed by a intellectual discussion with people who read the same book we did. 

The book club did get us together.  But it wasn't for reading books and discussing them intellectually.  Book club became a reason for me not to read (My uncle read every book.  My sister-in-law pretty much read every book.  I didn't read many of the books.  More on that later) and to hang out with people we'd never normally hang out with.   

Meet a sampling of the book club members:

Vicky:  A woman who alluded to knowing which pseudonym J.D. Salinger was publishing books under.  When pressed for further details, she'd bark at us to do our own research.  Vicky wore red shoes and loved to talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis and reading Catcher in the Rye by candlelight.  I enjoyed Vicky because she was so unexpected.

Betty:  A grouch.  Every time I suggested a book, Betty would look over her glasses and ask, "But will we really have anything to talk about after reading that?"  I think she didn't like my choices because they were current fiction.  Betty seemed to have the first edition of most books we chose to read.  Before discussions, she would dig the moldering book out of her purse and thumb through the humidity swollen pages.  She never bought a copy of the book we were reading from the book store. 

Susan: She wore big clip earrings and hats knit in multi-colored yarns.  Susan liked to read tragic love stories that were set during WWII.  She came to the book club on her birthday.  Our book that month was Midnight's Children, by Salmon Rushdie.  Poor Susan. 

Pam:  Oh sweet Pam.  She worked for a bank and always bought her books at the bookstore.  She suggested we read books by Barbara Kingsolver and didn't endorse Faulkner.  Pam was an insightful force every book club needs.  Of course, Pam decided to start furthering her banking career and quit book club shortly after we joined. 

Make sure to join me for "The Art of Book Clubs - Part II -The Leaders."

Prairie Eydie

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