December 14, 2013

November and December

Our November book club selection was Anne Frank's The Diary Of A Young Girl, our classics selection for the year. It was suggested that we reread something we should have read for school when we were younger but maybe didn't. Turns out almost no one had actually ever read this.

Jill actually visited the home where Anne's father had his business and where the family hid for over two years when she was in Holland and shared photos from her visit. Although the book had a map of the building's layout, it was much easier to imagine what life must have been like for the people hiding with pictures.

For Lisa it was a reread of a book she had read as someone Anne's age and it was almost like reading an entirely different book. This time she was impressed, as was Ann, by how intelligent and self-aware Anne was. Ann read a most recent edition of the book where Otto Frank had approved for some passages previously not included to be added. These included Anne's thoughts about her mother but for Ann, she was particularly struck by Anne's burgeoning sexuality and exploration of her own body. Anne talked about there being two Anne's and we found that to be true in many ways - the face she put on for the others versus her internal feelings, the way her writing sometimes felt very much like an average teenage girl versus her writings about world events and the relationships between the people in the attic.

We also talked about how modern Anne was; she was not at all interested in being like her mother, instead hoping to be an author one day. How eerie that one of the most widely read books ever is her own diary, a book she was certain no one would ever read.

In December we read and discussed Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. Lisa chose this one based on rave reviews. We had a range of ages at the meeting to discuss the book and it was clear that your age played a role in how much you liked this book. Those of us closer to Quindlen's age found it much easier to relate to her thoughts, particularly when talking about aging. We liked her positive attitude and idea that there is a lot of life left for those of us in our fifties.

In writing about learning to do a head stand in her fifties, Quindlen showed us that it's not too late to learn something new and to keep pushing ourselves. Her discussion about faith and religion led us to discuss the reasons behind Quindlen's decision to stopped practicing her Catholic faith.

Linda's book was chock full of sticky notes and one of them was marking the passage where Quindlen wrote about estrogen replacement medication. This sparked a discussion about the benefits of estrogen replacement, the dangers, and the accuracy of tests and research.

A lot of us felt that Quindlen's column-writing past shone through in her writing style in this book. Some felt that she got a little long-winded and maybe even preachy. Overall, regardless of how we felt about the book, it definitely sparked a good discussion.