• 2010 Reading List

    What I've read this year:

    "The Other Queen" by Phillipa Gregory (Rating: C)

    "The Welsh Girl" by Peter Ho Davies (Rating: A)

    "Mistress of the Sun" by Sandra Gulland (Rating: A)

Book Club or Therapy Session?

It’s no secret – I love to read. Ever since I was a child, reading has been my escape, my therapy, my favorite thing to do. I read in the car on vacation, I read in the bathroom, I read before bed, and any other moment I had.

As adult, this continued. I majored in English Lit in college, and reading took on a different form for me – much more analytical, intense, and less enjoyable. After college, I had to retrain my brain on how to read for fun. I still read with a pen or pencil nearby, to underline or make any notes that may strike my fancy, but my mind is operating on a purely selfish, “I’m just reading this to enjoy myself” type of level. Very different from the “Dear God, please let me understand everything about this, and have something wise and insightful to say in class tomorrow” mindset that permeated my college years.

Camp 2009 107

So, I am now a part of a book club. My affiliation with it is unusual. I put together the idea as an event for work, and serve more as the hostess for the evening. However, I typically read the books, and participate in the discussion, no matter which way the topics may turn. The books we read are often times very different than what I would have selected myself, but I try to read them anyway. This month’s selection was “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” This is absolutely not my type of book, but I brought it to the beach anyway, and decided to do a little reading rotation.

At any given time, I may be reading 3 or 4 or 5 books. I like being able to pick things up, read a little of it, and then put it back down and not look at it again for a day or a week, depending upon my mood. So, I rotated through “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “Anna Karenin,” and “Playful Parenting” – a nicely balanced selection, right? đŸ™‚

The book was exactly what I expected – light, trivial, and frankly, annoying. But, the book club discussion was not. It never is. This is the only book club that I have ever participated in, so my experience is certainly limited. If I had to guess, I would say that we spend 20-40% of our time actively discussing the selected book, and specifically answering the provided “Discussion Questions.”

Fall 2006 Vacation Pictures 005 Edit

Inevitably, we get side tracked. Every month we talk about our kids, their schools, people we know that have had an experience that kind of mirrors the book. We talk about discipline. We laugh at eachothers experiences. We give advice, and find out things that we just can’t believe.

And this, I guess, is why so many women belong to book clubs. I’m sure that there are many groups that get together and discuss symbolism, the author’s voice, and truly delve into the in’s and out’s of the discussion questions. But, I think that many of us get together just to have a sounding board. The books we read open the doors to a variety of topics. We’ve talked about a wide variety of things in these monthly discussions: immigration, government policies, religion, abuse, war, travel, dreams, our families, childhood, fear and parenting. We talk about anything that comes up. Some of it is trivial, but some of it is really insightful, open discussion about things that all of us deal with, but often in very different ways.

And this is what I love about this book club. The selections may not always be what I would prefer, but I know that the conversations will always be memorable, and that is what it is about.

My “What!?” moment from last night: Of the 6 women there last night, myself included, we owned a total of 19 televisions. Only one other family other than my own has a single television. One woman has 6. I just couldn’t believe it. The average was 3 per family. But, that realization lead us to talking about ways to curb tv time for our families. Each family had a very different take on it, but it was interesting to hear how other families monitored (or didn’t monitor) their “plugged in” time. It was a glimpse into other people’s lives. So aspects of which are very close to my own, and some that are polar opposites. But, hearing and talking about these different methods, beliefs and values, just lets me makes me reevaluate our own family decisions. Are we doing enough in some areas, are we doing too much in others? Introspection is always a good thing.

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