(Book #7) In November, we read And She Was by Cindi Dyson. The Talking Heads song (of the same name) is still on my phone from when I downloaded it to play for everyone when Marcia hosted. Marcia served a delicious salmon to fit the Alaskan fishing theme of the book– thankfully she did not follow the first peoples’ theme which would have had her serving us fingers from corpses!
We enjoyed a discussion of whether the song and book title leave off a last word as one of the characters suggests (And she was dead.) or if the title is just as it sounds. The book was intriguing for the historical context and the first peoples aspect but it wasn’t a favorite for the group.
(Book #8) In December we read the worst book we’d read so far and maybe since. We thought we might like a Christmas book, and we chose Christmas Train by David Baldacci. It reads like a screenplay for a silly movie, predictable, trite, ridiculous. But this meeting brought with it our first ever cookie exchange and that made up for the bad read! One of the unexpected bonuses of book club has been the 10 or more additional types of cookies I’m able to add to cookie trays for the holidays. [Linda is never allowed to drop out because I would be lost/heartbroken/maybethinnerbutnotworthit without her toffee.]
(Book #6) In October we read I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb. Rosemary recommended the book and provided the meal that was served at Melissa’s home. She served some delicious Italian food, pasta and a salad.
Most of us appreciated the book but found it difficult to tolerate the book within the book written by the twins’ grandfather. He’s an unlikeable character made more unlikable by his writing.
I loved the premise of twins born on either side of a calendar year. I grew up with a mother who was a twin, as well as a brother and a sister who were twins. There is so much about twinship that intrigues me — my aunt died only six months after my mother not long enough to celebrate another birthday and my sister Dodie admits that it feels wrong to be getting older without Dennis.
(Book #5) In September, we read The Help by Katherine Stockett. I wasn’t able to attend the gathering that Melissa hosted, but because of the book’s popularity it was also the title chosen for the a book club on the cruise my husband and I took that month. The book club on the ship gave me an international perspective of race relations in the U.S. and I will say that my perspective was quite the opposite of the only other American who attended — who couldn’t imagine white guilt.
One of my favorite aspects of the book and I’m not sure I’m remembering this correctly, but, Aibileen tells Skeeter that she would love to read more books, but she’s read just about everything in the black library. Skeeter asks if Aibileen would like her to check books out of the white library for her and Aibilieen, surprised, says yes. Skeeter checks the situation and asks “Wait, were you afraid to ask me for that?” and lists other things she’s already done for her. Aibileen’s response is “These is white folks’ rules. I don’t know which ones you willing to break and which you ain’t.” That moment really hit me, that beyond the cruel and horrible things our ancestors did to the slaves, we made a whole race of people afraid to even ask for what they want.
(Book #4) In August, I convinced the girls to read a book written for young readers, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia. In addition to having read so many books of this kind with my daughter, I started reading along with Mock Newbery groups online around 2007 and sending all the books to my niece, Emily who is a teacher and reading specialist. We have joked that a Newbery winning book is worth more if you purchased it before it won the Newbery sticker on the cover and Emily has about eight such books in her possession, more if you count Honor books.
The book is about three young girls whose father sends them to California to visit the mother who abandoned them. Their mother serves them Chinese take-out most evenings and that is where Melissa, our hostess, took her cue to serve us (delivered) Chinese food. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the book and Melissa still counts it as one of her favorites of all we’ve read. It received my Cried Like a Baby rating for the moment when the mother tells her side of the story of why/how she was able to leave the girls behind.
(Book #3) In July we read the best-seller, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. We appreciated the historical aspects of the novel, the picture it paints of the occupation, the information about the roundup and The Vel’ d’Hiv. I think that perhaps because of the title the author chose, some of us felt that the story is over once the brother is found. Yes, Sarah’s time in the camp is of interest but it feels like part of a different story. And the second story-line with modern-day Julia isn’t particularly compelling — it seems so tiny in the historical context.
The story my husband likes to tell (everyone he meets) of this book club gathering was how he was asked to join us in a glass of wine from the second bottle of wine I’d opened that evening of the six we’d purchased in France.
(Book #2) In June we read Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Greg Gilmore, but I have no recollection of why it was chosen. I’m guessing it was my natural inclination toward Dilly Bars. My brother Dennis once brought Dilly Bars to the ICU waiting room after my Dad had a stroke, saying “You can’t be sad when you’re eating a Dilly Bar.” When Dennis died (unexpectedly, randomly, unforgivably) in 2016, I started the You Cant Be Sad When You’re Eating a Dilly Bar diet and remain on it to this day. It almost works. I hosted this gathering and served a picnic lunch as homage to all the church picnics in the book and served Dilly Bars for dessert. The main criticism for the book was the speech and language patterns. Some of us felt the vernacular was laid on a bit thick.