Thursday, June 28, 2012


As you are reading this, I am either frantically doing last minute cleaning, or food preparation, or if you're reading this later in the day, I'm finally enjoying the meeting of my Red Read Robin Book Club. Hopefully, a few times during the day I'll find time to check out what's been posted and respond to it, but not as often as I should. Someday, I always tell myself, I'm not going to be like Clara Morrow, one of Louise Penny's main characters with hair in disarray and chocolate on my face. I'm going to have my house in order; food prepared ahead of time and graciously greeting my guests and be totally relaxed. I won't even see a stray spider web hanging from a beam in my kitchen because there won't be one there. Someday, I tell myself, when I'm a well-read author and have enough money from the sale of my books, I'll have a cleaning person and maybe a caterer to bring in food. I think I might have mentioned before that I'm an optimist and try to ignore the realist who perches on my left shoulder, snorts and says, "Ain't gonna ever happen."

All the years I taught, I dreamed of joining a book club, but didn't know of any. Besides, I wouldn't have had time to join one if I could find one. Then four months after retiring, I was in the Brew Basket with some friends and saw a notice on the counter announcing a new book club being formed. It was to meet in the Brew Basket Cafe' on the third Thursday morning of each month. The first book to be discussed was The Lovely Bones by Alice Siebold. I'd already read the book, but was willing to read it again to discuss it with others. Many of those who came to the first meeting are still together after almost five years. New ones have joined and a few have left, but those who remain have become good friends.

Then four months later, a friend I'd graduated with many years before, asked me to join a book club being started. It was the Red Read Robin Book Club which I'm hosting tonight. Half this club's members are related and/or go to the same church I do. One comes from 50 miles away to attend our meeting. Unlike the first one I joined, this one doesn't meet in a cafe', but mostly in the homes of members. If a member doesn't have room or care to host the meeting, she chooses a restaurant instead. The hostess having the meeting at her home furishes a meal that always includes wine. Often the hostess serves food which in some way relates to the book. For instance, when The Help was the book being discussed, everyone laughed when dessert was chocolate pie. Those who have read the book or saw the movie will know why we laughed. The first book chosed by the Red Read Robin group was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It had been at least 30 years since I'd read the book and what a wonderful discussion we had. We hated to end the evening.     

For tonight's meeting, I chose Still Life by one of my favorite authors, Louise Penny. After we've eaten - some outside on the patio, a table under the trees, or in my library at a large table there, we'll settle down with wine or coffee in the living room to discuss the book. I have a few questions to start the discussion, and then I've planned something else. I'm telling the group I've chartered a bus to take us for a long weekend to Three Pines, the location in the book. Since Olivier and Gabri won't have enough room in their B&B for all of us, I've asked Louise Penny if she'd contact the residents of Three Pines to see if any of them would put us up for a few days. She did, and they quite graciously agreed to it. Tonight we'll discuss who they want to stay with and why they chose that particular character. I'm hoping Penny's characters have become as real to them as they have to me. Of course, this is the third time I've read this book, plus I've read all her other books, too, so I feel I know each of her characters quite well.  

Book clubs have enriched my life in many ways. They've brought new friends into my life who I feel quite close to now. Our discussions bring out insights into each reader. How they feel about certain books or characters and why, show something about who they are. Book clubs have widened my reading. I've always been a eclectic reader, but mysteries are my favorite and not often picked for either book club. Instead, the books have spanned a wide spectrum both fictional and non-fictional; books I might never have read if they hadn't been a book club pick. Unlike discussing a favorite book I've passed on to a family member or a friend, we're discussing books we've all read in the same time frame so our discussions are fresh and often lively. Even though I haven't liked every book chosen, I've been enriched by the wide range of books I've read through my book clubs and even more by the discussions we've held.  

Do you belong to a book club? If not, what aspect of a book club do you think you'd like?

If you've read any of Louise Penny's books (and if you haven't, you should) which character would you like to meet or stay with on a weekend visit to Three Pines?   


  1. Since I'm still up at 1:00 EDT (I forgot and had a caffeinated soda while playing bridge tonight) I hope you are actually sleeping in preparation for your busy day.

    I only started reading Louise Penny this year and I enjoy her immensely. I still have a couple to read.

    I'd love to spend time with Ruth. Since Rosa has flown the coop, I suspect she might be a bit lonely and not care to admit it. More to the point, I'm quite sure I could learn from her.

    ~ Jim

  2. Yes, I was asleep, but I'm up at 5:30 a.m. (Yawn!) to get started.

    There is such a richness about Louise Penny's books and her characters. I can't wait until her newest comes out in August.

    I was hoping someone would pick Ruth. She's such an interesting character with a lot of depth. I would have chosen either her or Myrna.

  3. I read for enjoyment and have found that over-analyzing the content lessens that enjoyment. Sometimes a friend and I will discuss how the author wrote the book, what we'd wish the author would have done differently, but that's the extent of our analysis.

    In school, I could write a literary analysis for a grade, but then--that wasn't much fun--so I doubt I would make a good book club member.

  4. I would be interested in hearing what your menu is for your book club tonight. Keep your big dreams and positive attitude!

  5. I've never been in a book club, Gloria. It sounds like fun, but probably won't happen for me. I review books as part of my freelance work, so I constantly have new books coming in (along with the ones I buy for pleasure reading). I wouldn't have time for a book club. I'm lucky to have many friends who are avid readers (mostly writers but also professors, etc.) so we often discuss books we've read informally at lunches or parties. That will have to do for me--at least for the foreseeable future.

    I think I'd want to spend the night with Myrna to get her take on each of the other characters in Three Pines.

  6. I am an occasional member of a book clubs and I enjoy the interactions. I was a member of a club I really enjoyed I decided the preparation time reduced my writing time so reluctantly I resigned,

  7. Actually, E.B. we don't analyse the books like I've done in literature classes. It's more talking over different aspects of the book we liked or didn't like.

    Anoymous, I'm having a picnic type meal with salads and cold cuts - nothing hot since the weather will be rather warm.

    Linda, I read more for pleasure, too, and seldom analyze the book as a writer. However, certain writers like Penny do make me look at how well they've developed characters as well as other things. I honestly found your book very well written with good character development, too.

    Warren, I don't find them taking up too much of my writing time as much as reading books on my TBR list. But the books chosen have generally been well worth reading.

    And now back to last minute cleaning and making the deviled eggs.

  8. Gloria, what a wonderful surprise you've planned for your book club. Enjoy the field trip!

    I've belonged to a nonfiction book club for a number of years, and am grateful for the books I've been introduced to that I might not otherwise have read.

  9. Great idea, Gloria, to let your book club members choose a character to stay with. Let me know how it goes. Judy Hogan

  10. Would you believe several members actually thought I had chartered a bus to take us all to Three Pines? We had a good laugh over that.

    I feel the same way, Anita. Recently we read THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot. It was a fascinating book that read like a novel.