Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Book Club

by Caren Crane

Most people here in the Lair know me well enough by now to guess that I'm not much of a "joiner". I pretty much eschew clubs and organizations of all kinds, unless they pertain to romance writing. But a few weeks ago, I joined a...book club.

I know, right? I was at an ice cream social at work, where we were supposed to "network" (another thing I'm not too keen on). I happen to know someone who works in the swanky executive center, saw her at the social and she eventually invited me to join this book club. Under the influence of Ben & Jerry's, I said, "Yes."

The book club is made up of employees (and one former employee), most of whom work in the aforementioned swanky executive center. I work in the not-nearly-as-nice building a block away. The club meets at a different upscale eatery once each month to discuss a book chosen by one of the members. I could tell these people do not read genre fiction. I was right.

Yet, I was intrigued by the idea of joining a book club. I've never really done such a thing. Sure, I discuss books constantly with my writer friends - even with family members - but I haven't been in a club. I was also a little skeptical. Whenever I read the "book club questions" in the back of mainstream fiction books, they make me roll my eyes or scratch my head. (Never both at the same time. I'm not that coordinated.)

We had our first meeting Friday and were discussing Ann Patchett's "Run". This is a book I never would have picked up on my own, but enjoyed. Sure, I had trouble believing some of the characters' motivations, I found the primaries a bit unsympathetic at times and some of the author's research was heavy enough to sink a battleship, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. Even more surprising, I was able to discuss the book like a reader with only a few annoying writer-like comments slipping in. It was freeing.

I know people get their hackles up when romance fiction is described as formulaic, but it is - in the very best sense of the world. We know that no matter how unlikely it seems during the black moment, the hero and heroine will somehow find their way to a happy - or at least hopeful - ending. With mainstream fiction, however, there are no guarantees. I found it interesting to read the book and guess what might happen next, to speculate about how the story would end, but really have no clue.

I have tried over the years to read more broadly and not get boxed into a romance corner. But I love romance and, after struggling through other books, I run back to the comfort of my most beloved authors time and time again. I find that no matter how satisfying another sort of book is, I am always hungry for romance.

Next month, my book club is reading a memoir by a chef. The month after that, a book on discovering your psychic type. I am not sure how I will like these books about sautéing and figuring out what sort of intuition I possess, but I will read them dutifully and be prepared to discuss them at the appointed time. I'm a bit nervous about what book I should choose when my month rolls around and I'm equally concerned about finding an appropriate restaurant for our discussion.

I like my new book club friends, I was pleased to find, and I hope they will like me. Especially after they are subjected to my book pick! This group is different. It is definitely a club. But maybe I have become someone who can join a "club" every once in a great while without having my individuality threatened. I'll let you know after the chef and the psychic.

Have you ever been in a book club? How did it work out? Do you read widely outside the romance genre? And most importantly, do you have a book you would recommend when it's my month to choose?!

100 comments:

flchen1 said...

Ooh, a club? About books? I've never belonged to one, but it's always sounded like such a neat idea!

Joan said...

Dang, flchen!

I still had leaves to sweep up!

But don't worry, the chainsaw ran out of gas around noon....

flchen1 said...

LOL, Joan! I can send him your way in a little while--actually, he may already be headed that way in the van... be sure to head him off if he appears bent on raising a ruckus!

As for a book club, Caren, I'm not sure I'd be a great candidate for a general-interest books kind of group. I know it can be awfully limiting, but I usually stick to romance. I want that predictability and comfort of anticipating the HEA :) I know that there are excellent books in many other genres, and occasionally I'll even read one. I guess I'd consider a club based on whether or not I liked the other folks participating--isn't that a horrible thing to admit!? Otherwise, my reading time is short enough as it is and my TBR is huge!

A couple books/authors that might be fun to try for a club read... hmm... when I read non-romance, I tend to like funny, so I loved Dave Barry's forays into fiction (Big Trouble; Tricky Business; and The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog; he's also co-written some kids/YA stuff with Ridley Pearson). And is this group predominately women? Or is it a mixed group? For some excellent women's fiction, I love Lisa Wingate. Or Sheila Roberts had a funny title called On Strike for Christmas, where a group of women (it might actually have been a book club...) decide that they've had enough of being the ones to shoulder most of the holiday season's burden.

If I think of anything else, I'll be back... can't wait to see what other people recommend!

Louisa Cornell said...

Fedora? AGAIN!!!! Take the GR to a book club!!

I have never belonged to a book club, but not for lack of desire. My work schedule always precludes it.

A book I would recommend for your book club would be RED LEAVES by Thomas H. Cook. The first line of it is - Family photos always lie.

This book was NOT what I expected. It made me gasp, ponder, cry and really look at what makes and breaks a family. Truly a great book.

For mystery/suspense I would recommend anything by Ace Atkins. The descriptions of food alone are worth the read. And the humor and insight are spot on.

Anything by Bob Morris is great if you are looking to recommend something a little more light-hearted.

So as you see I read a little bit of everything. The majority of my reading is Regency historical with some other historical romance thrown in to boot.

See, there is another reason for me to get some books published so I can leave Wal-Mart. I would have time to join a book club!

Kirsten said...

Caren, I spent this summer trying hard to diversify. I read a series of "good" books -- literary fiction, book club books. And I hated them. Well, hated is a strong word. But I didn't like them, that's for sure. Depressing plots, unsympathetic characters, overwrought language...remind me again why I'm reading? For pleasure?

Anyway, there was one gem in my summer reading list: A Guide to the Birds of East Africa
by Nicholas Drayson. I adored this book. I got an ARC of it at BEA and it made up for all the depressing, lousy "good" books I suffered through. It was a wonderful story, had a hero you adored, was unpredictable to the very end, and you actually learned a lot about Kenya while you read it.

I applaud you for trying out the club -- good luck and I do hope you try the Drayson book. You'll love it if you do!

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kestrel said...

I have never belonged to a "book club", I just don't have time between, work, family, school, housework, writing, and that TBR pile that grows every time you all talk about a book, or my sister calls and says "read this", or there's some controversial work out there... Well, you get the idea...

Maybe when I retire and can rest on my laurels and indulge in my favorite hobby, I might ponder joining a club, but not at the moment.

When it comes to non-romance reading though, I like the occasional Dean Koontz or Michael Crichton, Nora as J.D. Robb... Generally, I like to keep on top of what is getting attention, like "Twilight", or "Jewel of Medina" when that finally hits shelves. I also love when it is "Banned Books Month". I get a kick out of reading books someone has taken issue with, it makes me feel like I'm doing something naughty. :) BOOO to censorship! I am also always reading YA or juvenile fantasy in the effort to find something my oldest son will be interested in. Oh, yeah, and if a movie is going to be made out of a book, I have to read it first.

I call my romance reading "brain candy", though I have learned alot about the range of human motivations and emotions from reading romance, plus alot of history and things about faraway places I would like to see one day. I don't even see the promise of a HEA the appeal for me, its the journey the characters take to get there I get wrapped up in.

Still, I love to talk books with people, so a book club sounds appealing to me.

Minna said...

I've never belonged to a book club.
Do I read widely outside the romance genre? Definitely. Books to recommend? Let's see now...

Minna said...

By Arto Paasilinna:
Year of the Hare
Howling Miller
A Business man's Guide to Finnish Sauna

Minna said...

By Dylan Thomas:
Under Milkwood

Minna said...

The Wind Is My Mother by Bear Heart and Molly Larkin

Minna said...

Shusaku Endo: Wonderful Fool

Margay said...

Caren, good for you! Sometimes it's good to go outside our comfort zone. I'm not much for the book club scene myself. I always see these reading challenges online and think they'd be interesting to join, but I read at my own pace and oftentimes around the chaos of raising a child with emotional/behavioral/social issues. So I don't think I have any suggestions on books to choose for you. I just wanted to pop by and say Hi.

Helen said...

Again flchen you must have something special going on at your place Have Fun with him

Great post Caren I have never been a member of a book club either and I really only read romance if you can choose a romance book when it is your turn you certainly have a lot to choose from.

I as everyone knows read mainly historical romance but lately have read a few paranormals and contemps and romantic suspense and have loved them. The net has opened up a huge world of books for me and I am sure your book club will as well.

Have Fun
Helen

Carl Benjamin said...

Five Minutes till Race time by Bill Hanks... a good motivational autobiography.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Have you ever been in a book club? How did it work out?
No, I am not a joiner by nature either. I am also one of those people that can't read "on command". I guess you would call me a mood reader.
Do you read widely outside the romance genre?
I would say kinda, sorta, I really, really love my romance, I lean more toward historicals (regency in particular)but have read paranormal, contemps, a little suspense, but all have that romance under layer.
And most importantly, do you have a book you would recommend when it's my month to choose?!
I have read a very good non-fiction lately, it was a memoir by Victoria Rowell titled "The Women Who Raised Me:A Memoir"

Tiffany Kenzie said...

I've always wanted to join a book club... funny thing is that would mean socializing! *g* AND I'm extremely picky about books. I find more wallbangers outside of romance and fantasy genres that I might not be able to get through some of the books you are talking about.

Outside of romance for recs... (is there a page limit?) In order of rec.

Jasper Fforde--The Eyre Affair
Anchee Min--Empress Orchid.
Diana Gabaldon--Outlander

You could ease them into genre fiction with:
Jim Butcher--Storm Front (it's book crack, no way around that)

If you do romance, I'd go dark and not para (God, did I really just say that?)
Anne Stuart: Black Ice

Hard to say what historical romance would be best accepted. Funny thing about romance readers and writers is that we think a book is great ('cause it is) and insist it will convert any non-romance reader but it rarely does. And so many historicals are series books. I'm testing Anna Campbell's CTC out on a friend that thinks romance is beyond corney, but she's still trying my suggestions. I'll let you know how that goes. :)

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, how long are you keeping that chook?! He must be registered to vote in your town by now. *g*

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with book club doubts. It is a mixed group, with 10 women and two men. One woman has been reading a funny series of mysteries she really enjoys, but didn't want to recommend because of a romantic story thread. *sigh* I may have to throw some romantic storylines into the mix!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Louisa, Red Leaves sounds amazing. Thank you for the recommendation!

I actually don't have time for the book club, either, but it meets during lunch at work so that helps. My RWA chapter has a romance book club and I can't go to meetings because of long-standing commitments to other things. *sigh* Maybe when the kids are grown!

Amy Andrews said...

Bugger 'em, Caren - make them read a romance!!!

Anna Sugden said...

Good for you, Caren! It's always worth giving something a try - you just never know.

No, I've never belonged to a book club - not had the time or there hasn't been one. Actually, there was one, but they were too 'literary' for me to have joined them. I suspect I'd have misbehaved *g*.

I used to read more broadly that I do now. I barely have the time to catch up with all my romance faves, let alone try new authors. I have a Robert Crais book to read that I just haven't been able to get round to - and he's awesome (as well as yummy *g* and the nicest, most charming author).

I prefer thrillers and crime of all the other books out there, though I did at one stage read sci fi.

Recommendations (Bandita and WAP pals aside):

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman (hubby thinks this is the best book ever and has probably single-handedly put this man on the NYT because he's given away so many copies! I have to agree it's amazing.)

Anything by Tess Gerritsen, Mariah Stewart, Alison Brennan, Lisa Gardner and JD Robb - those ladies can certainly craft books!

Recent new reads I've enjoyed - and glommed on to the whole back list - the Jinx series by Sandra Hill, PC Cast's goddess series, Anne Stuart's Ice series and Donna Kauffman's Glass Slipper series.

I don't know if it's any good, by I also just picked up Nora Ephron's 'I Feel Bad About my Neck'. Because I love her movies and I thought the title was ace.

Anna Sugden said...

Minna - ROFL at the Businessman's Guide to Finnish Saunas.

Minna said...

Once there was something about book clubs and other clubs on the radio and there was this woman who told about this club where they tried all kinds of stuff they might not try otherwise, like go to see modern art or try belly dancing. Everybody might not like modern art or belly dancing, but she said they've had interesting discussions afterwards.

Louisa Cornell said...

You, misbehave?? Say it ain't so, Anna S! LOL Life is too short, frankly, NOT to misbehave every now and then. And a book club sounds like the perfect venue!

Trust me, Caren, RED LEAVES is an amazing book. It was one of those "I met the author and enjoyed talking to him" books. I met him at our annual Murder on the Menu luncheon - it is a fundraiser for our local library. We have a couple of dozen mystery / suspense authors come down for a big luncheon where readers stay put and authors move from table to table. Loads of fun. Cook's book was just so compelling and amazing and kept me going to the end when it just blew me away!

Amy Andrews said...

Or of course Eat Pray Love is supposed to be fantastic.

jo robertson said...

Great topic, Caren. Book clubs can be very interesting and lots of fun, especially when you like the members. I belong to a book club of teachers in the high school district. We're all dying -- especially ME!!! -- to have MY book be the pick of the month, should I ever publish LOL.

I enjoy my book club, but sometimes they choose memoirs or other nonfiction books, which I don't really enjoy reading for relaxation.

jo robertson said...

Ooops, forgot to say congratulations, Fedora. AGAIN!!!

An author I discovered through my book club (not a romance) is Kate Atkinson. She's amazing and I've loved all of her books.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Congrats on the GR nab...again... fedora!!

Caren, you are a braver woman than I. I'm pretty sure I don't want to join a book club. Call me a coward or stubborn, but being told what to read rates right up there with English literature class. Now mind you I loved English lit, when I was in school. The Cantebury Tales, The Crucible, Wuthering Heights, Macbeth, and Dante's Inferno...yep, loved them. BUT I loved free reading more...where I choose what I want to read.

As far as my tastes now, besides the wide vairety of romance I read? Well I love all of Ludlum's works. Steve Berry has taken up residence in my house. Louis L'Amour is always fun to pick up...I keep meaning to read The Secret Life of Bees. My CP swears I'll like it.

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, the Drayson book sounds right up my alley - I love unintentional education. *g*

I'm giving the book club a year. I figure it will force me to read outside my comfort zone. I am interested, too, in hearing the opinions of people who are purely readers. What they think works, what doesn't, what is important to them.

Readers, like our Bandita Buddies here who don't write, are a valuable commodity. I read like a writer now and that can be unfair to a story. For instance, the preponderance of research info on icthyology in Run bothered me. Others found it fascinating. It was...to a point. After that, I felt it needed editing. Again, writer opinion vs. reader opinion. I almost miss being just a reader!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, you deserve to have the GR come serve as indentured labor at your house. I know you have baked for him in the past. Doesn't he owe you something in return?

Caren Crane said...

Kestrel, I'm with you on retirement - bring it on! I think I'll have lots more time when the last of the kids goes to college. I dream of the empty nest (though it will be bittersweet).

I'm glad to see we all have towering TBR piles. I find I'm having to put the book club books at the top in order to get them read, since I only have a little bit of reading time every day.

Maybe I can suggest one of the censored books when it's my turn! I second your BOOO! on censorship. Banned book lovers, unite!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Minna, thank you! I will have a huge pile of great books to choose from. They all sound wonderful. If your taste in books is as fine as your taste in music, I'm sure I will have a whole new TBR pile! *g*

Minna said...

Oh, and then there's the autobiography of Sir David Attenborough. The book is as interesting as his documentaries. My goodness, that man has travelled a lot!

Caren Crane said...

Margay, thank you for the love! This whole book club thing came completely out of the blue. I normally wouldn't have a minute to spare for such a thing, but there it was, fully realized. The best thing is, it's a group of really intelligent people. I don't work with many brainiacs, so finding this group was a real blessing for me.

You have plenty to keep you busy, so the last thing you need is a book club. Maybe someday!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, thank you for your encouraging words. Isn't it amazing how much the internet has changed our reading lives? I am exposed to the works of so many authors I would never have found on my own. I suppose that's why we have those towering TBR piles. *g*

If you run across a fabulous Australian author of mainstream commercial fiction, please let me know. I adore Australian voices!

Caren Crane said...

Carl, I went to look up Bill Hanks' book. His story is incredible. I'm sure that's an autobiography even I would enjoy!

I did read Sting's Broken Music. It was amazing to me how similar his book writing voice is to his song writing voice. His prose is quite lyrical. Hey, I recommend the Sting autobiography to anyone who is even remotely interested. Looky there, I have a non-romance to recommend!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, I'm insanely curious. What motivated you to read the memoir? I have read quite a few books on the recommendation of my mother and sisters that I wouldn't ordinarily pick up.

AMAZING NEWS: My mother found that she actually LIKES a romance author. Well, she's sort of mystery/women's fiction anyway: Mary Kay Andrews. She loves her funny, Southern books. I am stunned!

Caren Crane said...

Tiffany, how ironic that you recommended the Jasper Fforde books. My next older sister loaned me three of hers and they are still in the TBR pile. Maybe I need to excavate them?

Also, do you really not consider 'Outlander' romance? To me, that is purely a time-travel romance, though it turned into more of a family saga. But still.

I'm intrigued by the Anchee Min. Is she anything like Amy Tan? 'Cause I love me some Amy Tan!

Minna said...

You know Anna, The Businessman's Guide to a Finnish Sauna has a totally different title in Finnish. It's something along the lines "Seven Brothers Crazy About Sauna". The name refers to Aleksis Kivi's book Seven Brothers, which is one of those books you are forced to read at school.

Caren Crane said...

Amy, I think as I worm my way into the group, I may lead them slowly down the path toward romance. In deference to the guys, though, it will have to be just the "right" book!

Minna said...

And how about fantasy? David Eddings has lots of great books and a couple of very long series.

Caren Crane said...

Minna, fantasy was my first love and I have a whole shelf of David Eddings! I'm afraid this group is strictly non-genre, however. Except that one could argue that mainstream commercial fiction is its own category. People like to call it "literary", but what does that even mean?

Caren Crane said...

Anna S., thank you! Einstein's Dreams is definitely going on the list. Though I love thrillers and suspense, I'm not sure if it's that sort of group yet.

I'm bound to get uninvited from this group for misbehavior.*g* I already confessed to reading mostly genre fiction, adoring happy endings and believing everyone needs more romance in their lives. Not sure how many more strikes they'll give me before I get the boot!

Caren Crane said...

Minna, that group sounds quite progressive. Sort of a "step out of your comfort zone" group. I would love that! My feeling is generally that there is something to learn from everything and everyone.

That is a big part of why I joined this group. I want to find out what makes other readers tick. Not the ones who love romance, because I have lots of insight into their (our) minds, but those other readers. I think many people are loathe to read genre ficition because it isn't "high brow" enough for them. Pish!

Minna said...

Here you can find more Finnish books:
http://dbgw.finlit.fi/kaannokset/index.php?lang=ENG

Caren Crane said...

Amy, I read Eat, Pray, Love and it was captivating. Of course, it is an autobiographical memoir and the author is going through a torturous time of growth and healing. She has an amazing, captivating voice. The sort that would compel you to read anything she wrote. She also writes fiction and I want to read her ficitonal works.

What made EPL so great was the emotional honesty in its pages. She did not gloss over her mistakes or her lack of good sense. She also does NOT recommend that anyone choose the rocky path she chose to take in her life. Definitely a book worth reading, though.

Hey, that's two non-romances for me. One was even non-fiction!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, your book club sounds fun! I can't wait until you have books out so I can read them - forget the book club!

Does your book club read any genre fiction or do you stick to more mainstream-type fiction?

Any particular Kate Atkinson's you would recommend?

Caren Crane said...

Suzanne, you too? EVERYONE has told me to read The Secret Life Of Bees. I, however, am quite slow to pick up something that EVERYONE loves. Even when I eventually read it and love it (like The Time Traveller's Wife), it feels like a school assignment. *g*

If I end up reading TSLOB, I'll let you know how it was!

Joan said...

Doesn't he owe you something in return?

Actually, Caren it is Demetrius who owes me....an explanation of this BLONDE hair not my own on his shield! {squints toward DC}

Caren Crane said...

Minna, I'll bet Sir David Attenborough has some real adventures to tell! I hope to live a life interesting enough to warrant an autobiography - or even a memoir. Sadly, most of my memoir material couldn't be published until the major players are dead - some already are. I would be like Augusten Burroughs and get sued by my family!

I will definitely be checking out some Finnish authors. I love international voices!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, Jeanne can't help it if she had electricity and Demetrius chose to spend a few days in DC. Especially when he found out she had DVR'd the whole 'Rome' series. I mean, really, do you blame him?

Joan said...

I can unequivocably state that I am not the book club sort of gal. Not so much that I am a genre snob (I HAVE read non-romance...I think...in the 80's) but because I don't feel the need to discuss and analyze and debate and dissect something I should have read for enjoyment.

When Oprah first started her book club I would watch the discussions on her show...and soon wanted to slit my wrists over the inane hyperbole and "hidden deep meaning".

Every story even with romance fiction touches people differently but really, pass a "Hey, did you like it" I don't need to be in a club.

That being said, there is a book called....I THINK....something like "A Night at the Jitterbug Lounge" ???? My CP got it in SF and she just gushes over it. She indicated it wasn't straight romance so maybe it would be a good choice.

Oh, and since there are guys there maybe Suzanne Brockmann's "Into the Night"

Minna said...

And speaking of autobiographies... There are some in English about Marshal Mannerheim. Renny Harlin is actually making a movie about him. It'll be interesting to see what it's going to be like, considering the movies he usually makes...

Tiffany Kenzie said...

Caren, I don't know Amy Tan.

And Outlander walks the line of romance and historical fiction, and it does usually make women of all reading sorts, sigh...

Yes, pull out the Fforde. I've never had such a great time laughing (embarrassingly so, on the subway) They are books for smart people. I've only read the first one, but bought the rest while reading the first... My poor TBR piles.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren Crane said...
Dianna, I'm insanely curious. What motivated you to read the memoir? I have read quite a few books on the recommendation of my mother and sisters that I wouldn't ordinarily pick up.

Just as you say Caren, read it because a lady at work recommended it. Otherwise I would never have known it exsisted, very moving work in my opinion.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren Crane said...
Not sure how many more strikes they'll give me before I get the boot!

That's okay Caren, when that day comes just give us the word and we will pick you up and go into seclusion for a week and read romance and eat food we normally avoid.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren Crane said...
Joan, Jeanne can't help it if she had electricity and Demetrius chose to spend a few days in DC. Especially when he found out she had DVR'd the whole 'Rome' series. I mean, really, do you blame him?

Caren, you are enabling again. If the Banditas had titles in the lair you would be "The Enabler"

jo robertson said...

LOL, Caren, my book club is composed of mostly high school English teachers so they pretty much keep to mainstream fiction, but they're not opposed to romance at all. We read one of Brenda Novak's books and she came to visit our little group.

Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES is my favorite.

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I was relieved that the lady leading our discussion of Run didn't stick closely to a set of book club questions I found at the publisher's website. They were kind of weird and not relevant. I find many book club questions to be that way. Maybe it's just me. *g*

I would probably enjoy the Suzanne Brockmann. I'll check it out as a possibility. Thank you!

Caren Crane said...

Minna, I'm afraid I'm not familiar with Marshal Manneheim. :-( I have a feeling once I begin to explore Finnish books and authors and history, I may have to come visit you. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Tiffany, I guess I've always associated Outlander with romance because I got it from the Doubleday book club and it was a romance feature. That was in the early 90s, when I was just starting to read romance again. Oh, I adored it!

Amy Tan wrote The Joy Luck Club and other wonderful books about Chinese-American characters. Very mainstream/leaning toward women's fiction books. Tan is a wonderful writer with a distinct and beautiful style of prose. Her stories are laced with regret and tragedy, but also with family and love. I really enjoy her!

Caren Crane said...

Tiffany, I am also moving Fforde to the top of the TBR pile - well, just after The Soul Of a Chef. I have a feeling if I don't read that one soon, I won't get to it by the next book club meeting!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, I'm a bit relieved to hear that the memoir was recommended. I sometimes feel maybe I missed a gene that makes me want to read 'serious' books. Although, in my defense, I was completely engrossed in a huge tome about American Indians when my family and I popped into Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago. I almost bought this huge coffee table book, but couldn't justify the cost. *sigh*

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, you have some nerve calling me an Enabler right after you told me we would sequester ourselves for a week, reading romance and eating foods we normally avoid. Who's enabling whom? *g*

For the record, when we go into seclusion, I want loaded pizza, chocolate cheesecake, lasagna and garlic bread. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Jo, I'm making a note of Case Histories. Man, I'll bet your book club has some really interesting discussions. I can only imagine having all those highly-educated minds analyzing a single story. I think it's great they are open to some genre fiction as well. What a great group!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, for some reason your comment "...the chainsaw ran out of gas around noon..." reminded me of the Elizabeth Peters book The Last Camel Died At Noon. It's one of her Amelia Peabody mysteries. Love them!!

Joan said...

The Last Camel Died At Noon.

Was there a chainsaw buried in its hump?

{ducking}

Suzanne Welsh said...

Caren Crane said: I, however, am quite slow to pick up something that EVERYONE loves.

That is my resistance to the hubabaloo at work over the Twilight series and the same reason I refused to read Harry Potter...(loved the movies!).

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I think it was dehydration that killed the camel. Maybe someone had taken a chainsaw and poked a hole in its hump?

Caren Crane said...

Suzanne, high five my fellow contrarian! I really don't know why I don't glom on to things other people adore. Unless it's recommended by someone whose taste I have personally deemed impeccable (like Deb Marlowe), I can't get behind most phenomenally successful books.

My older daughter has all the Twilight books and she LOVES them - even the last one, which had fans very divided. I picked up the first one and tried to read it, then decided maybe it was for a younger audience. I know lots of adults, though, who love the series. Again, maybe it's just me being contrary. *g*

limecello said...

I ... have never been in a book club. Not an official one where we all read the same book then talked about it. I think it'd be interesting...
I definitely don't have the time now but I think it'd be an interesting experience.

Caren Crane said...

Limecello, beware! When you least expect it, someone may fling out an invitation. As soon as book club people learn you are an avid reader, they start licking their chops, I think. *g* It could happen sooner than you think!

As Jo or someone else pointed out, it's a nice thing if you're with nice people. I happen to have lucked out and fallen in with an intelligent, easy going group. I'm not sure another group would work for me. This one is still on a trial basis!

Much depends on the chef book and the psychic types thing, I can tell you that...

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren Crane said...
Dianna, I'm a bit relieved to hear that the memoir was recommended. I sometimes feel maybe I missed a gene that makes me want to read 'serious' books.

Caren if left to my own devices I am romance all the way. There is too much ugly stuff in real life I most certainly do not read about it in what spare time I have.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren Crane said...
Dianna, you have some nerve calling me an Enabler right after you told me we would sequester ourselves for a week, reading romance and eating foods we normally avoid. Who's enabling whom? *g*

As it is often said, it takes one to know one. I have been an enabler since birth.

For the record, when we go into seclusion, I want loaded pizza, chocolate cheesecake, lasagna and garlic bread. *g*
Uh, do we have to wait for them to kick you out of the book club, can't we just do it now?? I could really go for that lasagna and cheesecake. Do you want the big black recliner or the over stuffed sofa??

p226 said...

I'm not much of a club joiner either. I've been invited to join a few. Freemasons. Mensa. Veterans of Foreign Wars. Marine Corps League. Etc...

I had to join a gun club. But membership is requisite for access to the range. I don't go to their meetings.

Seems to me, unless a club's focus is some sort of activism/action, most of the time, it's membership consists of folks seeking some sort of validation. I'm not a validation seeker. At least, I don't think I am. Or, at the very least, don't want to be.

I mean, I'm a member of some political organizations. But those aren't clubs. They have stated goals. Membership and contribution of funds, time, and energy drives towards a purpose. A purpose greater than the individual member.

Though... one might ask this question...

At its core, are the Banditas a "club?"

p226 said...

Oh, and book recommendations...

Culture of Fear by Barry Glasner. Non-fiction. Very eye opening.

Eric said...

Caren,

I’m with you about clubs although my phobia extends to avoid groups of people. Groupies are mostly formed from individuals we beg to borrow our own wheelbarrow from, to do some overdue gardening. We always promise to return (our property) to them the moment we’ve finish.

Books clubs: I’ve toyed with the idea of joining one but have never done so. I’m sure they’d beat me up. Of late I’ve been trying to read more widely, to help me grow (hence the book club idea).

Every now and again I become involved in ‘the discussion’ about why romance literature isn’t recognised. OK; I’ll lay my cards flat, I’m not particularly sympathetic to the cry of romance authors needing better tables in restaurants, etc. ---- No one is ever almost famous, they either are or the aren’t. ----- I quietly listened to a discussion recently bouncing around the same (old) topic by some very talented authors. They were offering views about why romance literature can ever win mainstream literature awards. --- It motivated me to doing some research!

The other day I attended a discussion about historical literature. Two of the panel were quite literally Romance Bandits. Plus another more mainstream writer and a boffin. It was interesting, a few things razed reminded my of the prior discussion and the next day I read your blog.

There’s a Novel by ‘A S Byatt’ titled ‘Possession’, it won the 1990 booker prize for literature. It’s a romance novel, or more accurately it’s two romance novels intertwined, wrapped as one story.

It’s a magically read and answers ‘my’ question about winning mainstream literature awards.

In point of fact it’s described (by ‘them’) as both an, ‘Intellectual Mystery and Romance Novel’. ----- http://www.themanbookerprize.com/prize/books/29

Spring it on your book club. They won’t know it’s a romance unless you tell them. Besides it won the Booker Prize.

Be warned it’s very long and somewhat complex. But I’m sure your ‘new’ friends will think you have what it takes to be their friend. ---- There’s a word for a novel that starts each chapter with a poem, which I can’t for life of me find. But that would be a good introduction to the novel as Possession is one. ---- If you do read it and get bogged down (which you probably will). – Go to chapter 15 and read the description of the lady. I promise you’ll feel warm and want to keep reading.

A Critique (so you know what you’re taking on ----
http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/post/uk/byatt/farrell4.html

There is also a movie of the book, which I love. But it’s only very closely similar to the novel.
If Possession fails ‘the test.’ – Try ‘Herbert James,’ ‘The Fog.’ ---- Because of the book you mentioned you’ve read, they will love ‘The Fog’. ---- (I truly enjoyed it and I passionately dislike horror).

Hope I haven’t bored or enraged.

Eric

Joan said...

At its core, are the Banditas a "club?"


Um, no P226. The Banditas are not a club.

Phenomena, Force to be reckoned with, shoe mavens, keepers of the inner sanctum aka The Lair and dedicated, exciting writers...

but we're not a club.

Joan said...

Whew, glad to know about the camel, Caren.

Before the GR left KY yesterday he'd taken to doing acrobats with the chainsaw, hence my concern for the dromedery...

p226 said...

Phenomena, Force to be reckoned with, shoe mavens, keepers of the inner sanctum aka The Lair and dedicated, exciting writers...

lol

Duly Noted.

lilacsky said...

Congratulations on your book club! The first thing that you need is a good list of books to use -- that will give direction to your book club. When I wanted to start a book club the first question I wanted answered was, what book should we read??

I am a total library junkie – I am there 4 days in a week! I would usually scour the library shelves and see what jumps out, until I found this reading journal called “Read, Remember, Recommend” from http://www.bibliopages.com -- it’s just this great little resource with Awards Lists (including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Los Angels Times Award for Fiction and National Book Award for Fiction), Notable lists (Oprah’s book club is one of them) and Author Pages. It even has an area for your favorite authors and for valuable reading insights. It’s really helped organize the reading for my book club. (I’ve finished half of the Awards list) Check it out – managing a book club becomes so much more enjoyable with it.

You gotta get ahold of this reading journal! :) Again it's at http://www.bibliopages.com. Good luck with your book club and I hope this helps.

Keira Soleore said...

I've never belonged to a book club, because I have never been able to force myself to read what I don't find interesting. So kudos to you, Caren, for jumping in and going for it.

Recommendation: Lauren Willig's Carnation series.

Fedora, you sure nabbed him quick.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Caren! Great post and topic. Don't you agree Demetrius? *takes away the remote* Say you agree, Dem. :> There. Thank you.

I'll also agree on the not-a-joiner thing. You'd think I would be, given that I'm so extroverted, but I don't like rules all that much. Ha!

And with book clubs, I'm with Keira, I have a hard time reading something I don't like. I used to do a book review for a newspaper in the Research Triangle Park. I read hundreds of books I didn't like. I didn't like it. So I stopped.

As to books I'd recommend, I don't recommend the Secret Life of Bees. Tried it. Too depressing. So's Cold Mountain, tho' I tried to like it since it's about "my" people.

As to more "literary" fiction, I really liked Galileo's Daughter and A Maiden's Grave (Deever), but mostly I'm a genre fiction girl. Sci-fi, Fantasy or Romance. Or Non-fiction, but not usually biographies, although I have to say that the one of Henry Fonda was fabulous.

That would be the extent of my ability to assist. Sorry! If you want success books, or funny get ahead books (What Southern Women Know that Other Women Don't is fab as is Kiss My Tiara.) Otherwise, I'm no help.

Hope you and the GR had a chainsaw and wild ride free day, Fedora!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, you and I think way too much alike. Left to my own devices, life would be full of romantic comedies at the movies and romance books on the shelves. *g*

And YES, sign me up for the overstuffed couch! I'll even call for pizza. Enabler!!

flchen1 said...

Hey, Caren and Diana, can I come, too? An overstuffed couch and lasagna and rom com sounds heavenly... ;)

Caren Crane said...

P226, you're wise to avoid most groups. I joined Romance Writers of America and haven't regretted it once. I even went so far as to be President of my local chapter for a couple of years. Good stuff! Of course, I've learned a ton of stuff from RWA.

I don't expect I'll learn too much from the book club.

I agree, it does seem many people join clubs to find folks like them. Maybe it makes them feel normal? Sometimes, though, it can be a good way to find other like-minded people. Those knitters seem to hang together a lot. My husband has joined several different rock-hunting groups. It's the only place he can find others who get excited about his hobby. Heaven knows he's tried to get me interested to no avail. *sigh*

And no, Romance Bandits is not a club! It's an eclectic assortment of individuals who discourse on a variety of topics and every now and then get together and socialize. Kind of like the Island Of Misfit Toys. *eg*

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, come on! I'll let you have half the couch and the second-biggest slice of cheesecake. The biggest one is MI-I-INE...

Caren Crane said...

Eric, what a grand suggestion. A.S. Byatt is someone I have read off an on. She is sometimes wonderful and sometimes hard to take. I haven't read Posession so I will definitely check and see if it's on the "we've already read it" list.

Thank you for the links, too. You guys are full of wonderful ideas today!

Caren Crane said...

Lilacsky, thank you so much! I tell you, it's a bit daunting to jump into a group that has been going a while. I was glad to see they've kept track of what's already been read. A few books I thought to recommend they have already read. Phooey!

With your link, though, I'll seem like I'm on top of things. Man, with y'all's help, I may be able to scam my way through this book club thing for quite some time!

Don't worry, Dianna and Fedora, I'll still come hide out and eat cheesecake and lasagna. *g*

Caren Crane said...

P226, that sounds like a book my husband would love. He's all about the non-fiction. It kind of makes me rashy, though. Will your rec make me rashy?

Caren Crane said...

Keira, I'm sad to say that I started The Soul Of a Chef tonight. I am 8 pages in and wondering when it will start to be interesting. I'm sure it must be good, since it has won all sorts of acclaim. But honestly, it just hasn't taken off yet. I'll slog on and hope for the best!

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, I'm glad there is someone else who didn't adore Cold Mountain. My husband loved it. He liked the way it painted a picture of what NC was like at that time. My best friend adored it because it was depressing and ended badly. I disliked it because it was slow and everyone in it was unlikeable. But that's just me.

Thank you for letting me off the hook for The Secret Life Of Bees. I really didn't want to read it!

I would love those hilarious get-ahead books. That kind of thing always makes me laugh!

Dina said...

Nope, I've never been in a book club, bogs are the closest thing for me.

Eric said...

Caren,
I wrote 'Herbert James' before I must have lost it for a moment (in front of everyone). ---- It's the other guy ---- The Fog by James Herbert (as an alternative).

Eric

Louisa Cornell said...

Didn't like Cold Mountain, didn't like The Road, didn't like The Secret Life of Bees, didn't like Nights in Rodanthe. DON'T make me invest in a love story and then have someone die at that end. It really pissed me off! I LIVED a love story where the hero died. There was nothing romantic, enlightening or entertaining about it.

Kiss My Tiara is an absolute hoot! As is BEING DEAD IS NO EXCUSE - How to have a perfectly lovely funeral.

One of my all time favorites is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. A great book about an event in a great town - Savannah!

And p226 - Culture of Fear is a good book. My brother recommended it to me and I found it very enlightening.

Caren Crane said...

Dina, we're glad you're hanging out on our blog. As noted at length, we are not a club, so your club-free status is still golden! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Eric, thank you for the correction. I'll have to check out 'The Fog' on my own before springing it on the unsuspecting book club population. Not sure about them yet! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, I LOVED 'Midnight In the Garden Of Good and Evil'. I actually have the book and the movie! Hey, maybe I read more non-romance than I thought.

I did read the unofficial biography of Tom Cruise. Man, is he a whacko!

Cassondra said...

Posh, what a great blog. So sorry I missed this day in the lair. But I wanted to say that no, I've never joined a book club. I don't think I'd like it. I mean, my intellectual side would enjoy it, but I get so little reading time, I do it for fun and relaxation ONLY these days, and it has to be a guaranteed feel-good book. The only genres that promise that are mystery and romance.

That said, I think a book club like yours would enjoy "The Secret Life Of Bees" if they haven't read it already. It's from a couple of years back I think. My husband, who reads everything, says it may be the best book he's ever read.

Carol said...

A great read, I thought...
It's not about the Bike by Lance Armstrong
Cheers Carol