Our long-distance book club meets once a year, twice max, and we are not at all well-organized about choosing date and place. It is, we’ve decided, a “pop-up” group. We’re rather like Smiley’s people, planning at the last minute to converge on a safe house for a top-secret debriefing. Shall we go to Smokey Row in Pella? Or beautiful Dubuque, where we can browse at the bookstore and walk by the Mississippi bluffs after the meeting?
Why don’t we just use Zoom? Oh, no. We don’t do that. It’s not even human. We meet in person, however inconvenient.
Sue, who lives in Mount Pleasant, writes on our email round-robin: “Rocky’s finally out of the basement and going to college. Can we meet in September?” (Rocky is her son.)
September is fine!
And what book will we be reading? Well, gosh, nobody has thought about that.
We love to read for book club. We read anything. We’ve enjoyed Angela Thirkell’s August Folly, Turgenev’s Smoke, John Irving’s The Cider House Rules, and Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton.
“I feel smarter at book club. I remember being smarter…once,” Sue says mournfully.
Our friend Janet’s theory: “We unlock each other’s smartness, since we were together at the university.”
If we’re so smart, how did we end up in Ankeny? That is our group’s ironic motto. Ankeny is a bedroom community, consisting entirely of strip malls and an Amazon warehouse. Nobody we know lives there – but someone must live there – so it’s code for living nowhere, where most of us live.
There have been a few suggestions for our September book selection. Janet would like to read a collection of poems by Ada Limón, the new Poet Laureate. I am leaning toward Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, the story of Rochester’s mad wife, a novel that is Rhys’s answer to Jane Eyre. Sue is dying to read Elizabeth Strout’s Oh William!, longlisted for the Booker Prize. In September, Strout’s new book about Lucy and William, Lucy by the Sea, will be published.
I’m so excited about book club!
I found an article at Bustle: “50 Books to Read with Your Book Club.” Let’s see, if we read one book a year for book club, we can’t get though 50 books ! Fifty years from now… no, it’s not possible.
But you may enjoy looking at the Bustle list. I’ve read some of these books, but none for book club.
What books have worked well for your book club? Classics? Contemporary lit? Mysteries? Sci-fi? Poetry? I’d love to know.