March 5, 2017

February: Childhood Favorites

This turned out to be a fun and unexpected discussion about the books that have remained with us since childhood. "Childhood" is a bit of a nebulous term - we are children from the time we are first chewing on board books until the time we are first reading the same kinds of books that our parents are reading.

 Nancy shared with us that her favorite book growing up was Winnie The Pooh which her sister read to her as a young girl. She can, remarkably, still recite long passages! We all remembered being charmed by Pooh growing up but talked about how much of the wisdom in those books stands true into our adult lives as well.

 Lisa W. said that her favorite childhood read was Gone With The Wind. She has never reread it but thought it might be time to see how it held up to a reread. We were all impressed that she had made her way through such a big book at such a young age. The combination of action and love story were a big appeal. We talked about why we liked Scarlett O'Hara despite her obvious character flaws; she is, after all, someone who did everything in her power to hold her family together and to hold on to her family's heritage.

 Ann had reread Little House On The Prairie and might have loved it even more as an adult than she did as a child. She was so impressed by how happy Ingalls Wilder's family was, despite the hardships they faced, how content they were with what they had, and how well they managed to keep themselves entertained with very little. We talked about how Ingalls Wilder wrote the books at a time when money was tight and how that and our tendency to recall the best of our pasts might have colored her stories. But we agreed that those who lived a simpler life did learn to make themselves happy with less.

 Lisa S. brought the copy of Little Women she had been given for Christmas in 1968, when she was just eight. It's a book that has held up for her through several rereads, despite some faults she can see in it as an adult that she didn't see as a child. We talked about which of the March girls we identify with. Lisa said that she has always wanted to be like Jo, as so many girls do, but acknowledged that she is probably more like mousy Beth.

 The biggest surprise was Grace's choice of The Old Man and The Sea which she had read in fifth grade. She said she had never been a big reader of "girly" books and liked the adventure and struggle in the book. She did say that she couldn't really remember books that she'd read much from the time before that.

 We definitely recommend this idea for other book clubs - it gave us a great chance to rethink what we loved to read as young people and to learn a lot about each other and the readers (and people) we were growing up.

January 21, 2017

January - The Interestings

So, only two of us finished this book and we both liked it. Several of you tried and just couldn't get into it. One complaint was that nothing much happened, at least not out in the open. Some felt the writing about sex was just awkward and uncomfortable. Although, on further reflection, sex IS often awkward and uncomfortable! We wondered why Ash ever invited Jules into the teepee in the beginning, although one person suggested that maybe she really did just need a friend.

The problem with a book that only two of six people have read is that it's all but impossible to discuss the book. We didn't get to talk about the rape, about Ash and Ethan marriage filled with lies, about mental illness as addressed by Wolitzer, or about the weight of money on lives.

Books that everyone doesn't love actually make better books to discuss than books were we gather, say "we loved it" and then we are done. But, this is a book that people, in general, either seem to love or hate. Which is why I wouldn't encourage you to power your way through this one.

In February, we'll each have chosen our own books to read. You'd think that would make it hard to have a discussion. It won't be. In part because everyone should have been able to finish the book since they chose it. In part because there's a good chance that many of us will have, at one time or another, read the other people's books. Also, because there is already a list of questions and we'll be trying something a little different to keep things going.

In March, we'll begin a new schedule, which will allow time to discuss the book for those who have read it and want to talk about it and also plenty of time for a group of friends to gossip, laugh, and catch up, and exchange stories.