Monday, February 26, 2007

The "Short Book" Club

A few years ago, a friend retired from her job teaching ESL and she decided to organize a book club. She invited a few friends who were also ESL teachers and some friends whose husbands were faculty members at the university, as were hers and mine. Neither group knew members of the other group, so in order for us to get to know each other a little, she invited us to her house for a simple supper before the meeting.

The first book she chose was Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, with 480 pages. Some of us had already read it so had to read it again, or at least browse through it, to refresh our minds enough to discuss it. Others, still working, found a 480 page book a bit onerous, since we all wanted to do our regular reading in addition. The next several books chosen were around the 300 page mark and everyone was happy about that. Pretty soon it became accepted that the book chosen was to be a maximum of 300 pages. A non-member friend started calling us the Short Book Club and the name stuck with us.

It's not as difficult as it sounds, you know. There are an incredible number of books of this size and we have no difficulty coming up with suggestions that fit this criterion. In addition, each year we try to include a couple of non fiction books in our choices. We still meet for supper beforehand, at our convenor's house, although I host one meeting a year, because I feel guilty that the convenor always cooks supper and hosts at her house.

Most of us are grandmothers but we have one young member who, during this time, has produced two children and brought each of them to book club for the first year of their lives. We don't know why she comes to spend the evening with the old ladies but we love her and she seems to have fun with us. She has the distinction of being the only one of the 12 of us who has never missed a meeting, even for giving birth.

One of the highlights of the meeting, before we begin the discussion, is the sharing of any books of interest we have read in the past month. This is an opportunity for us find out about new books and new authors and we all enjoy contributing to this section as well as listening.

So tonight is the February meeting of the Short Book Club and the book is one I've already mentioned recently in this blog, Sky Burial by Xinran. I look forward to hearing what the others thought of it as I found the story interesting but the book rather dull on the whole. I'm also wondering what we will choose to read for next time.


mhr said...

A quick question (for now).... what does ESL stand for?

Whine Lover said...

Book clubs, now that is a club I could enjoy :-)

Wish I had the time, but its on my list of things I must do in my lifetime.



jmb said...

Hi mhr,
ESL means English as a Second Language and since my friend is German she is well qualified to teach the acquiring of English as a Second Language.

jmb said...

Hi Whine,
I don't know how much discussion this book will generate. So I have decided to take along a copy of the questions of the book meme I published here in my post of a few days ago, called, Books, Some Eclectic Thoughts.

mhr said...

Thanks for the explanation, jmb!

jmb said...

By the way, mhr, yesterday I went to look at your photos more closely. They are beautiful, do you live on th e coast? I couldn't leave a comment because it was too complicated. But I loved them, especially the ducks!

mhr said...

Hi again jmb :)

Since Nov. 2004, I've been living close to the Atlantic Ocean's coast, about 80 km from Bordeaux (SW of France). But I lived for 40 years in Provence, near the Mediterranean sea (those pictures can be seen in my Sun Factor gallery

You cannot comment on my pictures (thanks for the thought) because I set my comments option so that only people who have a Pbase account can comment. Spam had become an issue, and this option solved it.
Incidentally, I'm always happy to meet another duck lover :)

I hope your meeting was interesting, and I wonder what book has been chosen for next time.
I like your club's name, very catchy :)
I would probably belong to the "Long Book" club, if I belonged to any book club (I have this thing with 1000 pages books), but "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. "
(Groucho Marx)

Cathy said...

Oh, I love this idea. You have given me something to consider.

We live in a 7 story condo building that has many retired men and women. Most all of the women love to read. I may ask some of them about starting
our own book club.

You have a nice blog. I am linking to you on my sidebar.

Thank you for all your recent support..:)

jmb said...

I've written a post on the meeting and it's up, with next month's book. I too love long books, if it's a good book I don't want it to end. Dunnett books are long!
By the way, my daughter who teaches French runs an exchange program with a high school in La Rochelle, not so far from you. She's been running it for 6 years, but the program had it's 25th anniversary last in 2006. Her school is just outside New York city. Go check out my book report.
A bientot

jmb said...

I'm glad to see you venturing forth again.
I hope you can get a book club started for your building. We only started with half a dozen and added others. We decided to limit it to 12 or so, although usually someone can't come. We even had a waiting list for a while!
I think the dinner thing is nice but not necessary. A different person makes dessert each time.
Good luck, with everyone in the same building it should be no trouble. One of our members drives 50 minutes to come.
Thanks for the link, I'm still working on my blogroll in I have you on bloglines.
Take care

mhr said...

What a small world :)
La Rochelle is indeed very close to where I live.
I've been planning to go there to take pictures several times, but for some reason it never worked out. I must try to go soon, when Spring is here!

jmb said...

This year the French come to New York, but my not quite four yr old grandaughter has been to La Rochelle twice, Italy twice (she's half Italian) and to Canada three times.
It is indeed a small world.