Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Sunday Salon: My Book Club Meeting

I have a great book club! Although members have come and gone, a core group has been together for about ten years. We meet monthly during the school year, usually in the morning, and have an annual pot luck dinner each summer. We read mostly fiction, but usually choose a classic and a nonfiction title each year, too.

This year we tried something different and subscribed to the Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series. The six-lecture author series provided built-in reading selections and breathed new life into the group. We heard Khaled Hosseini, Geraldine Brooks, Pete Hamill, Richard Russo, Sara Gruen, and Jeffrey Toobin. Pete Hamill was my favorite speaker, and also a new discovery. Two of his books, North River and Downtown: My Manhattan ended up on my favorites list last year.

The last lecture was in May, so we were on our own again for June's book. We settled on The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. One member loved it, and I had recently received a phone call from a former member telling me I had to read it. This friend has very similar reading tastes, even though Corelli's Mandolin has become a standing joke between us - it's one of my favorites and she hated it.

I really enjoyed The Forgotten Garden. It was a perfect summer read - pure plot, and well-written. It takes place in Australia and England, involves writers and illustrators of fairy tales, family secrets, mystery, and wealth, and skips around in time from the present, to the 1970's, to the early 1900's.

Everybody else loved it, too.... but there was really nothing to discuss! We grasped at a few topics, but didn't want to spoil it for the member who hadn't finished. That lasted all of ten minutes before we turned to other books we've read and summer plans. This served as a perfect reminder that good books don't always lead to good discussions!

What's up next? We chose A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg for our summer read, and are encouraging members to try recipes from the book for the annual pot luck dinner (I'm hosting). We'll hope for a better discussion, but this is usually more of a social meeting anyway. I'm really looking forward to this one. Have you read it?

Today is Father's Day and we are in New York City visiting Daughter #1. There won't be much reading (again!), but we're hoping to take one of the boat tours around Manhattan if the rain holds off. If not, there's always a bookstore (or two) or a museum we could visit....


  1. Hope the boat tour around the city worked out! Here's my Sunday Salon.

  2. My mom and I did the 3 hour boat tour around the was great!! Hope it works out for you!

  3. Oh, your book club sounds wonderful! It's been a long time since I was in a book club, although I have attended other people's book clubs to discuss my books.

    I've been wanting to read The Forgotten Garden.

    Here's my salon:

  4. I loved this post about your book club. That lecture series sounded wonderful and I know I would have loved it. I suggested THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN to one of group members because she had enjoyed THE THIRTEENTH TALE so much. She didn't like it though. I have it here, but it's one of the ones that will get read at some point.

    Hope your summer meeting goes well. I understand what you mean about books everyone likes not fostering great discussion. LOL

  5. I love book clubs! I tend to have different tastes than the members of my book club but it is still a lot of fun. I always try to be careful to suggest books that would make for good discussion but there always happens to be at least one book a year that just isn't that great for discussion.

  6. Gosh, do they have bookstores in NYC? I had no idea. ;-)

    I just picked up the Morton book this week, thinking it looked like a fun read.

  7. I love book club picks. I've written down two of your choices and have plans to hit the library this week.

  8. Wow, ten years? I am very impressed!

    My book club has adjourned for the summer. The last book we read was Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, which made everyone laugh except me.

  9. Sounds like a great book club! I think what I love most about blogging and twitter is that it's almost like being in a book club. A Homemade Life has been on my TBR list for ages. I can't wait to read your thoughts on it.

  10. So lovely to have a book club that has longevity and inspires feelings of affection between its members. A nice story given that people more frequently complain about their book club. :)

    Happy reading (solo or with the girls)!

  11. I want to read that one very bad and now that it's out in pb I just may have to break down and buy it. I loved Homemade Life...I can only imagine the food that will be at that book gathering..yummy!

  12. "good reads do not always yield good discussion" -- how interesting! I have often thought that engrossing plot-driven novels lead to very sparse discussions, but did not know anyone else felt the same way. I suppose that is why I am most often drawn to character-driven novels.

    Hope you and your family had a wonderful Father's Day in NYC :)

  13. I think CS is reading The Forgotten Garden now. Sounds like I'll have to steal it when she's done. Your book group sounds wonderful, you're so lucky to have such great reading companions in the real world. And I am totally with you regarding Corelli's Mandolin; it's a wonderful book.
    Hope your weekend in the city was fabulous & that you stayed cool!

  14. Such a wonderful Father's Day!

    A Homemade Life is such a terrific read...excellent choice! I can highly recommend the Bouchons au Thon.

  15. Your book club sound super. One of the books I downloaded on my new Kindle was A Homemade Life. I've read the first chapter and already love Molly Wizenberg. I look forward to hearing what you and the group find out. I'm hoping to try some recipes too.

  16. I'm glad you enjoyed The Forgotten Garden, it's on my list of books to read. How funny that there really wasn't anything to discuss, though! Oh well! Your book club sounds wonderful! I think subscribing to the Lecture Series was a great idea especially it was such a good groupf of authors. I really like Pete Hamill's work, too although I still have some to read.

    A Homemade Life sounds like a good choice. Will all of the recipes for the potluck be from this book? If so, I think it will be interesting and fun!

    I hope you had a nice time in NY for Father's Day. Were you able to take the boat ride around Manhattan? I always love theose. It didn't rain here which is good but it was a little hot and humid - a boat ride sounds refreshing!

    ~ Amy

  17. I really loved The Forgotten Garden, brillianbt story.

  18. Book Bird Dog - It did!

    Softdrink - We did take the 3 hour boat tour. A little downpour around Harlem, but it was still a great time!

    Laurel-Rain Snow - I know I'm very lucky when it comes to book clubs. Hope you get a chance to read The Forgotten Garden.

    Kay - I really hope we decide to get tickets again in the fall. Even if we don't, I'm going to subscribe on my own,

    Reviewsbylola - It's always tricky finding a book most members will like AND can spark a good discussion.

    Amy - There might be a bookstore or two in NYC , LOL! The Morton book is a perfect summer read.

    Debbie - Hope you can find the books. I'm really looking forward to A Homemade Life!

    E.L. Fay - Yup, ten years of book clubbing! Before that, some of the members (myself included) were in a playgroup. The kids all went to school and we still wanted to keep in touch... decided on books instead!

    Vasilly - I can't wait to get started on A Homemade Life. Picked it up in New York last weekend.

    Frances - It helped that we were all friends before becoming a book club. We started meeting as a playgroup, but as the kids grew up, we turned to books.

    Staci - I'll definitely do a post about our potluck dinner. Just looking at the book, I think it'll be delicious!

    Molly - We've read a few very plot-driven novels over they years and always seem to have a lack-luster discussion. If you want a good character-driven novel, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner is one of my favorites.

  19. DS - Definitely give The Forgotten Garden a try if you want to get caught up in plot! Corelli's Mandoling is a book I keep thinking of rereading - one of my favorites!

    Darlene - I remembered you read this, and was hoping you'd have a recipe recommendation. Thanks!

    Margot - Oh, I'm glad to hear the first chapter got you interested! Can't wait to get started...

    Amy - I hope you can get to The Forgotten Garden. I really enjoyed it. We did take the boat ride around Manhattan - just a little rain around Harlem, but still a wonderful time! I'll probably get tickets to the lecture series again even if the group decides against it.

    Dot - I thought Kate Morton did an excellent job crafting that story! Have you read her other book, The House at Riverton?

  20. This is one bok that MUST get read in 2010 by me. You are so ucky to have agreat book group that you look forward to.

    The leader of the one I trued was awful!

  21. Diane - Wish you lived closer... you would be a great addition to our group!!


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