You may recall that I belong to a book club that’s been meeting on the first Friday morning of every month for more than 50 years. Okay, I’ve not been a member ALL that time, but many of us have been members for decades. We joined when our kids were toddlers and we could send them into the hostess’s basement with a sitter and enjoy adult conversation for a few hours. Now we are grandmothers, we drift in and out of the group with moves and job changes, members come and go.
But still we meet.
And because some things never change, we take one meeting a year to choose eleven books to read for the coming year. We’ve developed an efficient email system for nominating books using a brief description and the number of pages. We limit our choices to fiction. (There is a companion non-fiction club.) In our meeting we briefly discuss each nominee. After all discussion we vote using hatch marks on a whiteboard listing all the titles. (Old-school but it works for us!) Typically there are a few ties and we vote again on those books only.
This selection routine says a lot about this group of women. Sometimes there are as few as a dozen attendees, at other times 25 show up! Membership includes teachers, college professors, lawyers, business professionals, a few nurses and a doctor. Some have been members for decades, some just joined upon retirement and some, like me, were members, dropped out to pursue a career, and returned after retirement. We all share a love of reading, but also a quest to push our reading a little farther than the Best Seller list. Certainly it’s social, but we spend most of the morning discussing the book and the author. Often when we reject a book in these selection meetings, it’s because we don’t think it will make for a good discussion. I feel very fortunate to have found a group like this, that challenges my reading and my literary juices.
Back to the list…
Practice makes perfect, I guess, because although we considered 29 terrific nominees last Friday, we boiled them down to 11 choices in short order. Since many of you are readers, I thought I would share some of our list. See anything that interests you or that you have already read? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones are on just about every list I’ve read lately. I’m interested to see for myself what the buzz is about.
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is a mystery about a Scotland Yard inspector and a British Museum researcher investigating Richard III. Too curious to miss.
Swann’s Way (aka Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust is long, but our nod to the classics.
There There by Tommy Orange recounts the travels of 12 Native American on their way to the Big Oakland Powwow and their realization of their interconnections. I’ve also seen this on some “recommended” lists.
The Lake is on Fire by Rosellen Brown is the story of Jewish immigrant siblings who run away from a failed Wisconsin farm to Chicago in the 1890’s. It’s hard to turn down a book set in Chicago.
I’m looking forward to One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakarunis, in which twelve people are trapped in the office after an earthquake. To stay calm they agree to tell one amazing thing about their life.
We’re also reading Transcription by Kate Atkinson, White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lyn Bracht, The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton, A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum, and The Overstory by Richard Powers.
Two that did not “make the cut” but I’m adding to my own list are Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro. I loved The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, also by See, and The Art Forger by Shapiro.
I don’t know about you, but I need a list of books, fiction and non-fiction, some long and some short, some light and some with more substance, so I know what I can read next. Like spare paper towels in the pantry or ground beef in the freezer, I need to be prepared.
What about you? What’s on your list?
Thanks for stopping by. See you again next time!