I started a book club about 3 years ago with my adult daughters and some of our friends. We get together once a month for a potluck dinner and discussion of our book of the month. While we enjoy our dinner and discussion, we enjoy just being together most of all.
But that aside, a benefit of our eclectic club that I especially enjoy is reading books I never would have chosen on my own. For example, two years ago my 34-year-old daughter came with the suggestion that we read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. At the time, I’d not heard of the book, and I wasn’t overly excited about reading it. But I kept that to myself, because I wanted everyone to help choose the books we read.
Well, let me tell you, I was completely immersed in the story from page one. I loved the author’s style and the fictional world she created, and loved the protag’s voice. But when I got to the end of the first chapter—which literally took my breath away—I was wholly invested in the story.
And so was every other woman (aged 34 to 70+) in our group. We read book one in the trilogy, then read book two the next month. Then we had to wait four months for book three to release. I’ve read the series twice more since then, and have grown to love it more with each reading.
When we learned Hollywood was making the movie—of course they were!—we spent much of our monthly discussion time “casting” the film. We thought Robert Downey Jr. would make an excellent Haymitch, but Hollywood didn’t get the memo. No matter, Woody Harrelson won me from his first smarmy word. Naturally, we all went to see the movie as a group—along with all our husbands, who also read the trilogy at our recommendation. We also read The Help and saw that movie together as a group.
We’ve read contemporary novelists, English and American classics, and after reading Sea Wolf by Jack London, one of my all-time favorites, we planned an outing to the Jack London State Park in Glen Allen, in the California wine country, about two hours from where we live. Unfortunately it rained buckets that day so we cancelled, but we’ll get there eventually.
A few months after reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, one of the younger women suggested we read Mrs. De Winter by Susan Hill. While I enjoyed Rebecca, I would not have chosen to read Mrs. De Winter, but was pleasantly surprised by the story and the quality of the writing. Same with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is a remarkable book.
Some books we’ve loved; others not so much. And we don’t always agree. We grade every one, and learn a lot about ourselves and each other in the process. We meet tonight, and will discuss the first third of And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer. We’re reading this one over the course of the summer because it’s such a lengthy book. I’m eager to find out what the others think about it. I’m not usually big on historical fiction, but I’m enjoying it a lot.
What about you? What book(s) have you read and enjoyed as a book club selection that you might not have read otherwise? And what fun things do you do as a group?
Sharon K. Souza is the author of Lying on Sunday and Every Good and Perfect Gift. Her newest release, Unraveled, will be available in July. Visit her website for more information www.sharonksouza.com