Do you belong to a book club? I heartily recommend it for a whole lot of reasons besides reading and discussing books which is, of course, the main purpose.
When we moved to Washington, I called the library to locate a book group here. I soon received a call from an articulate and soft-spoken former librarian who explained that the club consisted of women from her church. She invited me to attend if I didn’t mind that they sometimes discuss church business before the book.
Then I learned that the group meets EVERY Tuesday at 8 a.m! Thus the name Extreme Tuesdays.
Each week we meet at a different house, and our hostess brews LOTS of coffee and tea, plus whatever goodies she’d like to serve.
We don’t read one book per week, instead we concentrate on one book, and discuss it over a two week period. And what’s really fun is the weekly discussion generated during the first hour of the meeting, before before we get to the book.
This week our hostess, the queen regnant of Blaine social circles and known for her pastry delights, chose to serve a blueberry buckle,
which immediately generated a discussion of:
• Blueberry buckle’s hierarchy.
• What is a blueberry buckle?
• One former Bostonian member’s ability to discern a buckle from a cobbler. She was raised on them.
• The difference between a buckle and cobbler?
• Where did the fresh blueberries come from?
• A friend’s neighbor’s blueberry farm.
• So then we knew the centerpiece of dinner plate-size flowers came from Wynne’s Dahlias, a prize-winning dahlia farm where our group meets once each summer, and our take-home gift is a fresh bouquet of blooms.
• An inquiry about the dahlia named “Eek,” a strangely exotic dahlia mutation destined to someday be on a catalog cover when its family multiplies.
We always celebrate birthdays. Out only birthday honoree is visiting family in Scotland, so…
• Sang happy birthday to a flaming candle, stuck in the buckle on the table, then
• Blew out the candle from wherever we were sitting in the room.
at which point
• A photograph of our another member’s birthday celebration was circulated. When she recalled her 12-hour birthday party and that her granddaughter wanted her to move to Canada, she told her “I couldn’t stand the winters,” and…
we dove right into Pacific Northwest weather
which led to
•Hurricane Irene, natural disasters, and a comment a member’s FEMA-employed husband made: “This is a good place to live. Nothing [disaster-wise] ever happens here.” If she ever decides to move we’ll we’ll be right behind her.
somehow this led to
•The ever-present subject of other’s travails. Our discussions aren’t usually religion-oriented but members need support from time-to-time, so someone suggested a group prayer. We don’t do that often, but just then, it felt right to ask for prayers for friends.
We turned to our current book: The Imperfectionists: A Novel, by Tom Rachman. Some liked it, some didn’t; that always happens. I recited this line from Henry Cohen, a copy editor in the book: “…finally, arcane knowledge and pedantry came in handy…” driving our hostess to her always-open dictionary to look up the correct pronunciation of “pedantry,” a word I mispronounced.
Then , following the theme, there were comments on
•The demise of newspapers.
•The Bellingham Herald getting smaller and skinnier with fewer features.
•Someone affirming she’s not yet ready to give up reading the morning paper, and
•Another member announcing she’d just cancelled hers.
which led to
•A discussion on the demise of small businesses,
•The group’s take on WalMart’s contribution to the death of small businesses,
•The pro’s and con’s of shopping at WalMart,
•Comments from those who shop there
•And comments from those who won’t,
•More on how WalMart affects small businesses,
•The closing of Blaine’s second, of three, Ace Hardwares, and…
•The possibility of re-opening Blaine’s historic train station and Amtrak stopping there again.
• Another member arrived late with a bucket of freshly-picked apples for us to take home.
and then it was over till next week.
So you see, book clubs aren’t just about reading a book. They’re about friendship, food, and conversation; a way to make new friends when you move to a new town, and become involved, well-read, and educated, simultaneously. That’s why I love it so much.