. . . because they’d want me to read other things, besides my beloved mysteries!
That was me, until last Fall when I was having lunch with a group of friends, and one said, “Hey, you know, we ought to start a book club!”.
Well, even though I’d always steered away from book clubs, I got caught up in the moment, and was enticed by the idea of a club that included these friends, so I went along with the idea.
So, now we have been meeting for about six months, and now I realize why people belong to book clubs. It really expands your book-reading horizons. We have now read six books, all of which I probably would never have read if not for the club.
The very first book we read, The Weight of Water, was “dry as dirt” for me and never got me interested (Although the friend who recommended it, just loved it and had read it twice!). It made me wonder if a book club was really for me … until I went to the meeting. During the discussion that evening, even though several of us hadn’t liked it, we saw the book from other angles, through the others’ eyes, and even though it still wasn’t one of my favorite books, I then actually liked it better than I had after just reading it on my own.
One book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, was set in China in the 19th century and even though it was fiction, I learned alot about what life was like for Chinese women then, and more than I really wanted to know about the custom of foot binding, because it sounds so painful.
We have actually read one mystery. (Hooray!) Plain Truth is about an Amish girl accused of murdering her baby. Even though we live in an area where there are many Amish, I learned much from this book about how the Amish culture thinks about themselves and the “English” world (that’s us).
Besides causing me to read books someone else has recommended, because we have to have read a book before we can recommend it to the group, I now look for books to read, other than the “assigned” book, that would be interesting to the whole group. So, right now I have several books beside my “reading” chair with titles I would never have thought of reading before: Reading Lolita in Tehran, A Catch of Consequence, Those Who Save Us and I’ve just started reading The Time Traveler’s Wife.
The second book we read was The Last Lecture. I was actually the one who recommended it. I had heard about it, but the incentive to read it came from thinking “Maybe the club would like this.” It is a wonderful true story of a college professor’s words of wisdom he wanted to leave for his small children, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
A couple months ago, I happened on a blog called, Crazy Aunt Purl. She is a young divorced woman who learned to knit (Aunt Purl, get it?) during her tough times after her husband left her. While on her blog, I saw that she had written a book about that whole episode entitled, Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair. Now, that is not a book I would have ever thought I would enjoy reading, but, hey, I enjoyed what I read on her blog, and my new book-club-self is now always on the look-out for something to recommend, so I read it. No one is more surprised than me that I do recommend it. She is very funny but, at the same time , very eloquent in the way she describes what she went through after he left.
What prompted this post is that I just finished the book for our March meeting, Where The Heart Is. I had always heard it described as “the book about a girl who has a baby in Wal-Mart”. I never found that description particularly intriguing, so, again, not a book that I would have chosen to read on my own. But, what a surprise! It was one of the best books I have ever read. It made me laugh and cry and really care about the characters, and want to turn the page every time to see what happened next.
So, if someone asks you to join a book club, I suggest you at least think about it. Because, yeah, I’m still a mystery lover, but, because of the book club, I’m finding that I really do enjoy a wide variety of books!