This lively book club, represented here by Jill White, doesn’t have a name other than “Book Club.” The 12 members have been meeting monthly since 2004 and discuss a range of books each year: they have 12 topics, which help narrow down the choices and expand members’ reading into areas they might not otherwise choose. The topics are fiction, a book from the Big Read list, a book by a foreign author, a book about history or current events, a Kansas or a new author, a book that has won a literary award, one about travel or another culture, a mystery, a biography or autobiography, a classic, a book that has been or will be made into a movie, and the wildcard, which can be anything.
Sometimes the members have theme food at their meeting. For example, they had German food with Louise Erdrich’s “The Master Butchers Singing Club” and – of course – cake for Gaile Parkin’s “Baking Cakes in Kigali.”
The club also has a rating system for books: at the end of the meeting, each member selects a number between one and 10 and the scores are averaged. The club’s highest-rated book got a 9.4; the lowest, a 4.
What was the most recent book you discussed?
“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey
What did people think of that book?
There is an element of the magical in this novel and there was a lively and lengthy debate about whether the girl, Faina, was real or imagined. We thought the novel was interesting and enjoyed a glimpse into the 1930s and the harshness of Alaskan winters. We didn’t realize the growing season would be so productive because the days last so long. One of the reasons we love book club is we always learn something. We ranked the book a 7, which is a pretty mediocre rating for us.
What book sparked the most discussion, and why?
We’ve had many lively sessions. One of our most intense was “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell. It elicited much discussion about the consequences and morality of visiting another culture and changing it. There were also the religious aspects and religion always provides good debates. In addition, the characters were so richly developed we became quite fond of them. We recently read “Audition” by Barbara Walters. Since we’ve all grown up watching her interviews and broadcasts, we were fascinated learning her life story and more about her personal life. We especially enjoyed finding out about the men with whom she has had relationships.
What has been the club’s favorite book, and why?
Our favorite book has been “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. She is such a masterful storyteller. She wrote a suspenseful, intriguing novel about the conservation efforts on a book, thereby unraveling the book’s history. Now that’s talent!
Reading is always a mind-expanding and altering experience. Even if we can’t come to any final conclusions, it is always fun considering the possibilities. One of the most interesting things about book club is the different points of view of our members.