Monday, October 19, 2009

Bookleaves And Talya With Cracked Spinz

It's been a while since I've written about my book groups. With 3 of them, you'd think they would pop up all over this blog like zits on a middle schooler.

Oops, that wasn't a nice simile. Let me try again: You'd think they would pop up all over this blog like daisies in a lovely meadow.

Anyway, I've been remiss, so let me make it good and give a brief report on each in the order I joined them.

Bookleaves:
Our last meeting found us -- Dana, Rebecca, Shanna and me -- in Chinatown in Incheon. The weather was perfect, so we had tea on the rooftop garden of a coffee shop. Gorgeous. We discussed The Cellist Of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. Although I was initially underwhelmed by the quiet tone of the book, it seems to have grown on me since reading it, and I got even more out of it during our discussion. Shanna has a friend from that area, and has visited Serbia, so I enjoyed hearing about her experiences there. After the meeting, we walked up to a beautiful park that commemorates General Douglas MacArthur's landing at Incheon and viewed his giant statue. (I didn't realize that he was 70 years old at the time of the landing. That's a good set of bowels, and the wattles on his neck were faithfully replicated in bronze for posterity.) After that, we wandered back through Chinatown, browsing and shopping. Up next is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova on Halloween, which shows brilliant forethought and scheduling. Can't take credit for that, sorry to say. In November, we're reading White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, which will be my second go-round since Cracked Spinz chose it for October, but you won't hear me complaining. In fact, if I could pull off a hat trick and get Talya's Book Group to read it, I'd be feeling a whole new level of bookworm awesomeness.

Talya:
This isn't the actual name of the book group. It's really called Seoul Women's Book Club, but I hate the name -- sounds too staid and boring for a vibrant group whose book selections really kick ass -- so I just refer to it as Talya's Book Group, after our fearless leader, Talya. A couple of meetings ago, we trooped over to Dr. Fish and munched on bread and jam while discussing The 19th Wife, then let the fish munch on our feet. Everyone seemed to enjoy the book, and there was some spirited discussion about which part of the book was more engrossing: Ann Eliza's story or Jordan's efforts to prove his mother innocent of killing his polygamous father. I missed last month's meeting for Burnt Shadows, but I'm told that some people became tearful while discussing the book. I can see how it would happen -- there's so much beauty and pain mingled in that story. Next is Skin by Dorothy Allison -- it's a book of essays in which the author writes about growing up poor in the South and her feelings about being a lesbian, among other things. I won't be able to make that meeting either because of the Readathon, but I find Allison's raw prose compelling.

Cracked Spinz:
In September, we read The Road. For that meeting, Alex, Chris and I met outside The Chicken Shack, which is a scruffy-looking but comfortable establishment nestled in our apartment complex. We shared a couple of baskets of chicken, drank beer and soda, read different passages aloud and wondered about the long-delayed movie version. The concrete background, the twilight hour and the low meeting turnout seemed to go with Cormac McCarthy's stripped-down prose. In October, we read the brilliant and abovementioned The White Tiger. Chris compared it with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, which has whetted my desire to attempt that book again after nearly two decades. (I used to DNF like a pig running through the corn. I'd hate to see an actual list of books I've abandoned.) Our November book, selected by Becka, is a little gem from 1961*, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. Becka's choice has garnered a good deal of attention, so I'm expecting a healthy turnout for that meeting. I've encouraged the other Spinz to view the 1969 movie on Youtube so we can have a book vs. film discussion. We'll wrap up the year with Alex's choice, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Being in 3 groups sometimes leaves me a little breathless, but always in a good way.


*Actually, most things that came out in 1961 have a rather gem-like quality.

5 comments:

....Petty Witter said...

Three groups, how do you manage that? I enjoy my one reading group but if that months choice of book isn't enjoyable I find it really hard work and sometimes feel like I want to give up reading it but can't - to sometimes have that three times! You must be dedicated.

Heather J. said...

busy, BUSY girl! I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on Jean Brodie; I didn't get much out of it, but I suspect there really is a lot there ...

ambearo said...

I miss you guys. I still haven't found a replacement book group... If I did I'm sure it wouldn't be as good. (T.T) Say hi to everyone for me!

Gentle Reader said...

I loved The White Tiger, too. How in the world can you keep up with three book groups? I admire you for that!!!

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

i love that you have THREE book clubs and i can't find one that i like!!! i've tried and tried but most club goers tend to get off topic and spend the evening chatting about other things. there are no real leaders--i guess no one wants the responsibility?

i'll live vicariously through you, instead! i have pride and prejudice and zombies on my request list at the library--let me know how cracked spinz members like it!!