I can’t even remember how long ago it was that my good friend Danielle invited me to a book club she held at her house; it must have been at least 10 years ago. I was introduced to Danielle through a mutual friend, Renee, and we immediately hit it off. I could probably write an entire blog post on Danielle, but I’ll spare her the embarrassment. All you need to know about her is 1. she’s super cool, and 2. she no longer lives here, having moved to the other side of the country. After D. left town, one of the Book Club gals, Dana, took over hosting. I think I took about a year sabbatical around this time, but when I returned, I was so glad I did.
The book club meetings at Danielle’s house could, at times, get rowdy. You know how it is, get abunch of opinionated women in a room, drinking adult beverages, and anything could happen. There was always plenty of good food to go around, a themed cocktail of some sort, and I was the Dessert Girl. At the time, I was making custom cakes and cupcakes, so I liked to try out new recipes on the Book Club Girls. For the final meeting of Book Club at Danielle’s house before she moved, I brought the chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes that I featured on yesterday’s Saturday Sweets blog post. And as her parting gift, we gave her a framed print featuring the book covers of all the books we had read.
Looking at the picture, I find it hard to choose which one was my favorite. I know which one was my least favorite: Her Fearful Symmetry, a book most of us did not like (and to this day I poke fun at it). I know which one generated the largest debate: The Stolen Village, a story about a raid on an Irish town and the abduction of its citizens, who were sold into slavery (fascinating book). I thoroughly enjoyed Let the Great World Spin, Water for Elephants, The Help, Room, People of the Book, March, and Wicked. We laughed hysterically at The Year of Living Biblically, and I learned quite a bit about the recession and word economics after reading Boomerang.
Book Club Version 2.0 is no less fun. The crowd is a bit smaller, but the food is just as good, the conversation every bit as engaging, and the friendships, at this point, are long lasting. Since returning to Book Club 2.0, we have read Etta and Otto and Russell and James, The Girl on the Train, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, Pride and Prejudice, Me Before You, The Alchemist, The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, I’ll Take You There, Hillbilly Elegy, and our latest read, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.
As with most book clubs, some participants read the book, some don’t, and some only get half-way through before meeting. We don’t judge; but we do discuss the book. Our group is definitely a Book Club more so than a wine club! Last week when we met to discuss A.J. Fikry, the craziest thing happened: 100% participation, as in ALL of us read the ENTIRE book. That never happens, and it very well may never happen again, but we delighted in our achievement as we discussed this book that we unanimously agreed was a fun little book and a perfect, light hearted summer read.
Each chapter of the book begins with a journal entry of sorts written by A.J. to someone who was at first an unknown recipient, but by about midway through the book is determined to be his daughter. Each is a short synopsis and/or opinion of a particular book or short story. The main character, A.J. is a book store owner; a very opinionated book store owner and a bit of a book snob. But his quirkiness makes him likeable. It’s a story of his life, and the strange turn of events that take him to a place in life he really didn’t think he’d ever get to. The book is witty and fun with a couple surprises throughout. There are many references to authors, books, and short stories throughout each chapter, making it fun to identify authors you know or books you have read, as well as pick out which don’t even exist and are made up. I also found out after I finished the book that the author, Gabrielle Zevin, has on her website a complete list of all works referenced in the book. It was fun to go through the list and place each to where it was located in the book. You can knock this book out in a weekend easily, while sitting at the pool or enjoying the beach. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Menu: Dana prepared a delicious Moroccan Lemon Chicken that we learned how to make in a cooking class a few of us took last year. She also made lemon sorbet for dessert, so I brought individual blueberry tarts to go with it. There were appetizers, pasta salads, cheese, dips, crackers, and chips. And plenty of wine. Next Up: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger for our August meeting.