I've talked at various points here on the blog about what you can do to change things up at your book club, especially when you might be short on time. For instance, this month my group is reading a lighter book to make up for the fact that we're meeting in three (rather than four) weeks time. I've also recommended reading a short story and discussing that (check one out on Fifty-Two Stories where you can get a new short story every week.) Here's another idea that I saw on Twitter that I just love. Everyone in Catherine's book group was feeling very busy and was worried that they wouldn't finish a full-length book in time, so they decided to discuss an essay. They chose E.B. White's Here is New York, a classic essay that enjoyed renewed fame, as it were, in the aftermath of 9/11, when many people turned to celebrations of NYC and its unique place in our country to help assuage their grief. I know many New Yorkers who purchased the lovely hardcover edition of the book in those months. Read on to see how their discussion of Here is New York went, and thanks to Catherine for this post. I encourage you to follow her on Twitter!
I joined a book club last summer at the invitation of my roommate. It's a group of about 11 girls who live in NYC, but there's usually only about 6 of us at any given meeting due to crazy schedules, which works out well because I like the intimate feel of it (plus 6 people can actually fit inside a NYC apartment ;-). There's a rotating schedule and whoever picks the next month's book hosts a get together at her place that involves some sort of food/snacks and wine (because what's a book club without wine?). Last time the hostess made truffle mac and cheese which was AmAzInG. She chose an essay for our March read: "Here is New York" by E.B. White. Up until now, our club has only read novels, so this was a fun new twist that was well received. We all loved it! Normally, there is a division of people who enjoyed the book and those who did not, but everyone liked "Here is New York." Granted, we all live in NY so that could have been a factor...
Anyhow, we had a lovely time comparing and contrasting E.B. White's New York to our own. It's funny how they are like two different cities. I mostly enjoy the similarities though, like how E.B. explains that even though you're only 18 inches away from the table next to you in a restaurant, you pretend as though there's a mile of separation - still true! and very relatable. On more than one occasion I've acted like I couldn't hear the woman to my right describing details of her love life to her dining partner.
Seems like throwing in a non-traditional read every now and then is a good idea - keeps things new and fresh and everyone engaged. Otherwise, I feel like we fall into a routine that leads to - ahem -laziness, demonstrated by the fact that in the previous few meetings there was always more than one person who didn't read the novel. Perhaps I'll pick a book of poetry when my turns comes in June, maybe a short story, or a fable? At least I have time to think it over. -- Catherine