If you have read many of my posts, you might have gathered that I am a big reader. So I’d be a natural for a book club, wouldn’t I?
It turns out that in theory a book club is a great idea, but in practice I can never seem to keep it up. It’s all my fault. I’m just no good at clubs.
Inevitably, I end up getting ticked off with one or members of the club, such as Light Reading Girl (the girl with the perfect manicure, whose children wear matching smocked clothes even at playtime. She suggests that the club devote a month reading and an entire evening discussing such challenging books as “Bergdorf Blondes.”) or Complaining Girl (She is quick to criticize other members’ book suggestions, but oddly, does not offer up any of her own. Her mere presence dampens the festivities, as all other members become afraid to suggest future reading material and become the target of her biting tongue.)
My idea of the perfect club would be one in which I was the queen. (I’m always happiest when I am the queen.) I could suggest good books for others to read, and listen to suggestions from others.
Then it occurred to me that I already have a kingdom, and plenty of visitors who do not fall into the above categories. So every now and then I’ll put out a few books I have loved, and you can do the same. On your own time!
If it makes you feel better, pour yourself a glass of wine and get some cheese and crackers while you join The Virtual Book Club. I have a couple of categories you may not use in your run-of-the-mill book groups.
1. Dusty Books I Should Read But Have Not
You know how there’s a book with a lot of buzz and you just can’t get fired up about it? This happened to me with The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Everyone I knew recommended it to me, and my sister gave me her copy and I put it on my bedside table. And there it sat. For months and months, until finally I packed only that book on a trip and was forced to read it. Guess what. I loved it. You should read it, too. I know– the cover is boring, and it’s about Afghanistan. Get over it. Just read the first chapter and you might love it, too.
Now, here are a couple of dusty books that are still staring at me, waiting for me to crack the cover. Are they worth it?
Memoirs of a Geisha : A Novel by Arthur Golden
A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin
2. Some all time favorites:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I describe it as a cross between “Dead Poet’s Society” and “Lord of the Flies.” I hear her second book wasn’t nearly as good.
Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage (The Crosswicks Journal, Book 4) by Madeleine L’Engle – yes, the “Wrinkle in Time” author. A beautiful story of her marriage.
Middlemarch by George Eliot. Long, but worth it.
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott. A must for any new mother, so you know you’re not the only one who has considered throwing that crying baby out the window in the middle of the night.
Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine by Jerome Groopman. I’ve had too much personal experience with doctors and hospitals, and this book drives home the importance of following your intuition, asking questions, and taking charge of your own health care, not simply relying on everything the doctor tells you. Each chapter is a separate patient story, so it is easy to read.
Parent Power! by John Rosemond. He can be hardcore at times, so modify as needed. I have worn out this book with my three boys. And when I watch them break a glass and immediately go get the broom, or sort the laundry into lights and darks, I feel good for myself and my future daughters-in-law. Give yourself permission to make your kids vacuum!
3. The Book That Will Not Die
Many years ago, I read and enjoyed The Alienist by Caleb Carr. It’s a murder mystery set in New York City in the late 1800s. I really thought Bill would like it. He took it on our honeymoon and read two chapters. The next year, he took it to the beach and read the same two chapters. He took it on golf trips (back when he golfed) beach trips, and trips to see his family every holiday. He threw it in the suitcase when we went on out tenth anniversary trip, and did not open it at all.
He still takes it on every vacation we go on, and I am optimistic that he will conquer The Alienist before Finn goes to college.
4. Mindless Beach Read
Okay, book club members. I have shared about 1% of my book recommendations with you, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, help me out!
Anne Glamore, Book Club Queen