“What do we give it, five, four, two?” we ask as we sit knee to knee around the table. One by one we give our opinions until a consensus is reached. Ah, finally, the book is rated and the Page Turners confidently turn the conversation to other matters.
We have been “in session” for 15 years now which seems to me to be a long time for a book club. There are just two charter members left … me and Barb. We began with 10 women and Barb and I stay constant as others come and go. We have not lost nor gained anyone for several years now though so the round table stays constant.
On this night as we sit around the table, our conversation shifts from our current book to other books, to activities and these days, to politics. We could sound a bit like my grannies did when I was little with the “Tsk, tsk, what is our country coming to?”
All kidding aside, my book club consists of some of the smartest women I know. In 15 years we have read 180 books. We have read Oprah books, historical fiction, biographies, novels, poetry, short stories and just about everything in between. We have read most of the Steuben County READ books also. We have shared our love for books at Pokagon for our Christmas parties and at the Steuben County Historical Society where we dressed up for “March” by Geraldine Brooks. We skyped Katherine Howe one Halloween after coming in from the campfire, watched a film of Hemingway’s home … well, you get the picture. Usually we just take turns cooking for one another.
On the occasion that I fall and break a bone here or there, my book club rallies around and comes to spend the evening at my house where we order pizza and talk, as usual.
On this night we pull out reams of paper from notebooks featuring the books we have read. We try to keep good records, but then we forget to write them down so on this night we pull out our notes and our lists and try to remember all 180 books. Each woman remembers when she came into the club.
Susan says, “It was The Devil in the White City for me.”
Cathy says, “I think it was a book by Lisa See.”
After each title is revealed we all “ooohhh” and “ahhhh” remembering the book. Some of my favorite books were met with a bit of opposition and a raised eyebrow, and they still are as everyone looks at me. “What?” I say, “I loved that book.”
I ask Barb what was our first book. She quickly replies, “Isabelle Allende’s book, ‘Daughter of Fortune’.” I nod in agreement. The book titles start to flow then. Susan pulls out a file that not only has book titles, but what food we had with them. She begins to read them off. Everyone nods in agreement. When she mentions “The Necklace,” we turn to look at Bert, who actually had a beautiful piece of costume jewelry necklace for each one of us to wear and take home. Mine hangs up in my bedroom always as a reminder.
I have learned to plan my schedule around book club (at least as much as possible.)
Being a part of the Page Turners has helped me be a better, well-rounded reader. There are definitely books that I might not have read where I raise my own eyebrows, but the books are scholarly and full of discussion. We spend hours discussing each book and relating it to our own lives as well as sharing other books we have read during the month.
Between the monthly book clubs we don’t usually see one another; our lives take different pathways. I guess it is the books that draws our friendship together every month.
This month we are reading Kurt Vonnegut as part of our Bicentennial literary exploration. We are all reading different selections so we can compare and contrast. My book is “Cat’s Cradle.” I am quite anxious to see how many pages we award Vonnegut during our April meeting.
I love sharing my book club talks with students. Sometimes they are amazed, “You read those books because you want to?” Amazing it isn’t, I think, to want to read books for the pure joy and love of it.
So, my friends, why not start your own book club. What are you reading this month?