A few months after moving to Virginia I attended a new member happy hour for a social club. I remember talking to Bill a few times that day (he was in Switzerland), telling him I wasn't sure if I would go. It was a big step outside my comfort zone, walking into a stranger's home, knowing no one. Over the next hour or so I met two gals who would become friends of mine.  A blessing with a pandemic on the horizon. I was also oh-so-gently pushed into coordinating a new book club.

I remember our only gathering, talking about a virus in China that was making news. By July 2020 this book club was a much-treasured social evening as we waited out isolation. Today we remain a virtual book club.  Most of the time this works great but it does lose the organic conversations over wine that tend to anchor friendships.  Two years later we tend to chat for 20-30 minutes and discuss the book for 30-40 minutes.  It works for us.

We have read books from A Gentleman in Moscow to The Midnight Library, This is How it Always is to The Rent Collector.  In the beginning, we tried to have each member select a book, and lead the discussion of their book selection.  Now I send a reader's guide the day before and the discussion just happens organically. 

Click here to view the complete list of books we have read and discussed.

May Book Discussion

In April we made a quick decision to change our May book and selected a Pulitzer (following the model of a classic, award winner, historical, male author, memoir, etc.. for a vast selection of books). I had heard so much talk about The Underground Railroad but shied away from wanting to read it. I knew it was a dark story.  In the end, we chose it because the author's family lives in the town we all lived in (in Virginia) and it filled our award winner category.

Five women read the book, with four finishing it. Most noted it was too violent and that they would not recommend this book to a friend (because of the violence). It was a good discussion, talking about the state-by-state experiences for Cora, and being reminded of the cruelty.  Personally, I am thankful I read this book. A book I probably wouldn't have read without the push.  There is an important distinction between reading a fictional story with violence/rape detailed on the page and a historical account. 

Have you read it?

Books for the rest of the year

After a few months of wavering a bit... we have a list for the rest of 2022! 

Memoir, historical fiction, lighter fare, and a classic.  It's a nice list.  My recommendation/selection is The Birth House.  I read it almost fifteen years ago and am looking forward to rereading just my second ever book (ever).  I hope I love it just as much as I remember.  It's a powerful story about midwifery and the introduction of hospitals for birthing. 

We do not require someone to read a book before recommendation - straying away from this practice has had us reading several sad stories lately.  Oh William! looks to be another sad story - I just started reading it and enjoy Elizabeth Strout's prose.  I hope it lives up to a discussion!

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