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Monday, December 12, 2016

I Love My Book Club!

BOOK CLUBS: Some Thoughts

I am a member of a neighborhood book club, The Maple Glen Book Club, to be exact.  It has a total of eight members. Several of the women I had never met before, even though I have lived in this neighborhood for over twenty years and so have they.  Several I knew by sight and name, but none were close friends.  It's an amazing thing to live in a fairly closed community (there is only one entrance and egress that we all must pass through) and not come to know the people of that community.  A big failure on my part, but it appears, this situation was true for most of the women in the group. Food for thought.

Happily, as we continue to hold our monthly meetings and share and discuss our thoughts about the books we read, we are getting to know one another and appreciate our similarities and differences.  Besides the opportunity to read  and talk about books, book club, at least our book club, is a place to share some interesting thoughts about life.

Recently, we read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

The book got very mixed reviews from our group.  I had read it before and had so loved it that I recommended it to the group.  It's quirky and weird in many ways, but had enough of a puzzling conflict that I thought it would appeal to most members. Only one other member really and truly liked the book; one couldn't get into it at all and the rest of the group toughed it out and read it any way, even though they did not like it.   In our ensuing discussion, we discussed how that is one of the reasons we wanted to be a part of a book club. It forces us to read books we normally wouldn't choose to read.  It expands our book boundaries. And...even with books most of us do not like, we manage to find some kernel of truth to plant.

With Mr. Penumbra that kernel occurred in the message one of our members felt the book was trying to convey.  The plot of the book revolves around a rather cliche problem: the search for immortality. Though set in modern day and sprinkled heavily with the techno babble of Silicon Valley, the novel's setting was also very DaVinci Code-like with a secret organization that was trying to decode the meaning of life hidden in some ancient books. I won't give away too much of the plot or the conclusion, just in case  you want to read this book, but I do want to share the message our group felt the book exposed: friendship is the key to everlasting life.  Love, of friend or family member, promotes lasting memories, memories that are transferred from one generation to the next.  We live on in the memories we make in the hearts of others.

Though some of our group were skeptical that this is the case, for me it rang very true. I immediately thought of my Aunt Marie, my mom's sister who died at the age of 13. Of course, I never met Aunt Marie, but she had a big presence in our family's life.  Her story, her personality, her impact on our family was a lasting one that traversed several generations. I will be revealing her story in a future post, but for now, I refer to her as an example of how a simple tidbit of discussion in a book club meeting can spark big ideas.  It is also goes to show the power of books. They make you think!

Agenda for organizational meeting.

The Maple Glen Book Club has only been in existence since June, but it has had quite an impact on my life, opening up my world to new friends, new books, and new ideas.  Here is a list of what we have read so far:

July:  The Nest, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

August: The Light Between Oceans, M. L. Stedman

September:  Take Me With You, Catherine Ryan Hyde

October:  Vendetta, Elizabeth Flaherty

November:  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel, Robin Sloan

In December, in deference to the very hectic holiday season, and through the wise suggestion of one of our members,  we are reading a short YA novel:

The Poet's Dog, Patricia MacLachlan

Happy Reading Everyone!