On my 29th birthday, in between belting out songs at karaoke at our local dive bar, my friend Diem and I decided that we should start a book club. The next month three of us talked about the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a classic I had never read, over brunch.
Now, three years later, I will go to the same bar for karaoke with the four other core members of book club, and the next day we will enjoy brunch and talk about our latest book.
Of course there is nothing remarkable about five (and sometimes six) 30-something women having brunch and talking about books. But I feel lucky to have found them and want to take this opportunity to celebrate the simple joys of Book Club.
Talking about books with good friends is truly one of the great joys in life and once you are several years removed from school, it can be one of the rare opportunities to have a conversation about books. Book club has also given me a set date to meet and catch up with some of my closest friends (we are happy that we decided early on to make it “women only” as it’s also a perfect excuse for much needed monthly female bonding).
(most recent photo of book club ladies on a night out for Jen’s birthday)
As you’ll see from the list below, the books we’ve read over the past three years have varied from missed classics, to new best sellers, to re-read classics to semi-random selections. Some books have become my new favorites (Blind Assassin, Grapes of Wrath), and some have been divisive (How to be a Woman, Franny and Zooey) and a few flat out hated (The Last Child), or unfinished (Travels with Charlie).
But another joy of book club is that I’ve ended up reading many books that I would never otherwise read, for as much as we all have in common, our tastes and opinions vary and even if I have different opinions, I’ve enjoyed the chance to read and discuss and even disagree on books with such smart women. And yes, as the benevolent dictator of book club (i.e. the one who sends out the invites and prints out questions), I’ve also enjoyed the bulit-in deadline that book club gives me to finish a book.
So without further preamble, here is the list of all of the books my book club has read in the last three years (my favorites in bold).*
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain May 2010
- The Last Child by John Hart June 2010
- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers July 2010
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett August 2010
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddan September 2010
- Cider House Rules October/November 2010
- Freedom by Johnathan Franzen January 2011
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen March 2011
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith April 2011
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston May 2011
- Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut June 2011
- Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger July 2011
- Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner October 2011
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck December 2011/January 2012
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides March 2012
- Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck April/May 2012
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier June 2012
- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates July 2012
- The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood August 2012
- How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran September 2012
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote October 2012
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro November/December 2012
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin February 2013
- Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy March 2013
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck April 2013
*This list is likely missing a few books and might be slightly out of order, this was the best I could manage from my notes and memory.