Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Book club blues
It only happens about once a year, or even less since there are fourteen people in my book club. But this month it's my turn to present a book. Each month one member hosts the group and two months before, that person suggests the book for their month. Some people bring several books and the group votes on which one it will be. Other members come with just one title. It can be fiction or nonfiction, old or new, an author we've read before is OK too. The only stipulation is that it must be in paperback. So it leaves a lot of choice.
This year my month is September, which means tomorrow night I am to present a book (or books) to the group. Some years I've found it easy. Maybe I've just read a book I really enjoyed that has a lot in it that we could discuss. Or maybe there's been a book I'm really excited to read or one that sounds like it would be well received. Other years I've kept a list of possible sugestions. But this year it crept up on me and I don't really have anything in mind. I might suggest Gil Adamson's "The Outlander," a story of a woman on the run in the old west, which I enjoyed reading. But I haven't yet decided if it's the right one.
It's silly to get all twisted up about what book to recommend but somehow the choice seems to be a big deal. It's kind of like choosing the color to paint the living room. It's more than just a color; it's a reflection of me. The "right" book should be engaging, not too long, but also have literary merit and lots of room for discussion. And then of course, there's the potential that your recommended book will be voted the favorite book of the year, so there's always the chance that my book will be chosen as the winner. You can see that this is no easy task.
Anyway yesterday I stopped in at the local bookstore to see what is new in paperback that might appeal, and I came up with one possibility. It's a new paperback called Olive Kitteridge, a "novel in stories" that focus on one character, a teacher in a small town in Maine. It won the Pulitzer Prize (although that's not always an indication that it will be enjoyed by all). Also it's been reviewed in Oprah's Magazine and some of the women in the group are scornful of the Oprah choices (although many of them are good reading).
So at this point my decision is made. I'll present two choices: The Outlander (Canadian/choice of Canada Reads on CBC Radio) and Olive Kitteridge (Oprah/Pulitzer). That should cover all the bases. I'll let you know what the group decides tomorrow night.