Friday, October 2, 2009

List: Book Club

I love my book club. After refusing to join one for most of my life, Book Club is now the highlight of my social life. All the ladies are fun, interesting, and make a point of reading the books. We get into some great discussions -- as well as eat wonderful meals and laugh a lot. We even have a name for the club now, but it is top secret.

Unlike many book clubs, we do not have a theme and we do not create a list of books for the year. We meet every other month and rotate hosting duties. Sometimes the hostess cooks (or at least serves) a dinner that is related to the book somehow, so we have eaten Afghan food (A Thousand Splendid Suns), African food (Infidel), and had a picnic (I Capture the Castle), among other themed dinners. The hostess picks the book for the next gathering.

This is the list of books I've read since I joined in 2008, starting with the most recent and moving backwards:

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (reviewed here)

Tinkers by Paul Harding (Pulitzer winner; reviewed here)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (reviewed here) 

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (reviewed here)

Small Island by Andrea Levy (reviewed here)

The Red Tent  by Anita Diamant

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosna

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Davita's Harp by Chiam Potok

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Keysey

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Bone People by Keri Hulme (reviewed here)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

Leap of Faith by Queen Noor

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky


Updated on December 28, 2012. I do not usually review the books we read for book club. Apparently talking about them satisfies my analytic urge.


  1. I don't think it's easy to find a book club you love and want to keep forever. Congratulations! I love the books on your list. I've read maybe three. Great books.

  2. Funny, I love my book club, too! Don't tell anybody, but I actually wrote a "review" of "Davita's Harp" months ago but never posted it. "My editor" encouraged me to improve some parts of it, and of course he was right, but I never retinkered and let it languish. Portland Center Stage is doing Potok's "The Chosen" this season, so I picked it up and will have to revisit Davita again.

  3. I agree .. I love our book club and the memory of creating the secret name. We're a lucky group o' gals.

  4. How do you find a good book club? There are plenty of social networking sites...Is it better to form one with friends or with people you don't yet know? I wonder where you get the better conversation...Or maybe it's just luck of the draw and timing! Thanks for this encouraging post.
    Michele Emrath

  5. I'm so glad your book club has worked out for can be tough finding the right one! Have read 8 of your selections and enjoyed them all. Would love to read about your groups reaction to the books, or what the discussion seemed to focus on.

  6. It isn't easy to find or keep a book club. I think a big part of the success of ours is meeting only every other month, instead of every month. We have plenty of time to read the books, no one has to host more than once every 18 months or so, and we don't have that crazy-making sense of scheduling our lives around the third Wednesday (or whatever) of every month.

    I didn't go looking for a book club, so, Michele, I can't really answer your questions (which won't stop me from trying). The group was around for several years when I joined, by invitation of Tracey. Everyone in the group was brought in by someone else -- we have a general open door policy that anyone with a friend who is is interested can invite that friend. If it sticks, we have a new member.

    For example, I invited Laura last Spring, and she seems to like it well enough, so she's come to the last three meetings. Although I don't know if we've told her the secret name yet. :)

    That organic process seems to have worked just fine, as we incorporate new members gradually. I think there are usually 8 or 9 of us, but we had 12 or so at the last meeting. We've never had too many people to have a good discussion.

  7. Reading about your book club makes me envious--never have had enough time to pursue, but it sounds v. enjoyable. Nice list of books too--I've read some, heard of others, and am intrigued by the rest.


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