I love reading. In fact, I'd say that it's one of the two or three most preferred activities in my life. I read about a book a week (two in a good week) and find that it is one of the few benefits of living with insomnia. While for some reading a book a week might sound like a lot, this is nowhere near enough for me. Ideally I'd like to be reading about 100 books per year...or two books per week. Unfortunately, with a child and a home and a husband and a part-time job, it's just impossible. I imagine that if we are ever able to bring our other children home from Ethiopia, my current book-a-week ability will be further compromised for a time.
In the summer of 2006, Geoff noticed an ad in a bookstore newspaper advertising the start up of a new book club, and he immediately brought it to my attention. To be honest, my first reaction was: never. I'm not sure why, but I think it had something to do with a fear that I would have nothing of value to contribute to a group discussion; I didn't feel well read enough. Also, it felt kind of nerdy to join a book club. But with Geoff's continued pressure (clearly he knew me better than I knew myself in this arena), I phoned to enquire and, almost to my surprise, found myself signing up. I went to the first meeting filled with anxiety. Would I measure up? Could I contribute anything to the discussion without feeling like a simpleton? Just remembering these feelings as I walked into the bookstore for that first meeting brings back a sensation of illness in the pit of my stomach.
During my first months as part of the book club, I was reticent to own up to friends and family that I belonged to a book club. It was the fear of being seen as geeky that stopped me a lot of the time. Over time, though (because I'm rather slow in this kind of stuff), I came to realize that if, indeed, being part of a book club meant that I was geeky, bring it on. Because what I found was a lovely group of people of varying backgrounds and interests who had one thing in common: we all loved to read. It felt like I was coming home. So yes, I am part of a book club. In fact, I am thrilled to be part of a group of like-minded geeks. An added benefit has been that a few of the women eventually became friends outside of the book club, too, and it didn't take too long before the four of us began to go for dinner or a movie on a regular basis. We still do this with great regularity...even though one of us is no longer part of the book club. These three women have become close friends and I love them dearly - we call ourselves "The Fab Four." We're all very different people but seem to find much in common, not the least of which is our passion for reading...and paper products in general...and fountain pens...and talking...and dining out....
Tonight I'm heading out for dinner with eight members of our book club as we launch our fourth year of the club. I'm excited about our line-up of books for the year and can hardly wait to get the year started. But for now, I'm just looking forward to seeing everyone again tonight...geeks or not! Here's our reading list for the upcoming year, in case it inspires anyone to pick up a good book.
September’09: Hemingway Night
1. A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
2. Death in the Afternoon, by Ernest Hemingway
1. Grizzlyville, by Jake MacDonald
November’09: Mystery Night
1. Interpretation of a Murder, by Jed Rubenfeld
2. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, by Kate Summerscale
December'09: Classics Night
1. Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
2. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
January'10: Translation Night
1. Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill
2. The Elegance of The Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
1. Through Black Spruce, by Joseph Boyden
March'10: Africa Night
1. Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen
2. Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
1. Two Lives, by Vikram Seth
1. The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb
June’10: Canadian Short Stories Night
* stories yet to be chosen from Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant