Friday, January 11, 2008

BOOKLEAVES Just Gets Better & Better

Last Sunday was book group, and we had a great meeting! The book we discussed was Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. Everyone seemed to enjoy it greatly, although there was some disagreement about whether the ending was a little too contrived. (I can live with it because I think there might be another twist or turn in the road for Jacob. I'm definitely rooting for him, but I also know how these things go.)

BOOKLEAVES just gets better and better. If you'll forgive the NewAge-y talk, it's a group with a lot of positive energy. New people are starting to show up every time -- like Amy from Connecticut, who's really gutsy. She reads on the subway! I have a fear of it because I'm afraid I'll get so engrossed I'll miss my stop. Also, Amy says that even when she is cram-jammed into the subway like one of many sardines, (a typical daily experience in Seoul -- people pour in and out of those trains like blood from an unstanched wound) she'll still grab the oppoutunity to read. The girl is definitely all right!

Not only do new people join, but people come back again after months of absence, like Kasia and Bernadette. Kasia was most kind. I asked her to recommend some Australian literature, and she suggested He Died With A Felafel In His Hand. Unfortunately, I didn't write it down. Fortunately, my brain cells tenaciously hung onto the word felafel, and when I wrote and asked Lazy Cow to help me refresh my memory, she was also kind and got me sorted out.

Aaron and Catherine seem to be intrigued by The Canadian Book Challenge, Eh? They're trying to help me come up with authors. When we were on the subway headed for Gangnam, they were rapping out provinces and territories and authors for every one of them with great authority and velocity. Since we were on the move, I didn't have my little notebook at the ready. Out of all those literary riches emitting from their Canadian lips, I only came home with one title: Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso. Didn't catch the province or territory. Shit.

There's a kind of mysterious guy that's relatively new to BOOKLEAVES. Kenneth. He's very nice, very pleasant, and I know he likes to read, but it's difficult to pry information out of him. On the rare occasions that he speaks at a meeting (after Aaron and I prod him) he's got insightful comments. Then he gets quiet again. Also, he seems hesitant to offer opinions on what we should read in the upcoming months. Since I'm slightly shy myself, I understand, but damn! These are books! I'm completely convinced that Kenneth knows about hundreds of really great books that I'd love to read if I only knew about them. The dude's holding out on me! Do I have to get all teacher-ish on his ass and make him hand in a reading diary each month? Mr. Bybee, my own pathologically shy sweetheart, warned me not to focus too much attention on Kenneth or force him to talk, because it could backfire and embarrassment could quickly turn to anger. I definitely don't want to cause any unpleasant feelings. I just want Kenneth to slip me some book titles from time to time the way CanadaBoy slips Ollie (his corgi) a bite of whatever he's eating.

Veronica looked so tired. Her workplace (she teaches English at a learning academy) drives her relentlessly. (This is the land where students, driven by parents and teachers and society at large, are still in the thick of the day's studying well past midnight.) In spite of her hellish schedule, Veronica always manages to keep us all coordinated on meeting times and what we're reading next. She always brings her laptop to meetings, so she can immediately enter the information at Facebook. Big respect, Veronica! I could never never never never never be so pulled together; that level of organization is beyond my ken.

The meeting Sunday was especially fun because we had to figure out which books to read in the upcoming months. We did a little shuffling because not everyone has been able to easily locate a copy of You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore.

If you find yourself in these parts in the next few weeks, here's what's on tap:

January 20 - The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

February 3 - You Suck: A Love Story - Christopher Moore

February 17 - Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer

March 9 - Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky

At 7:40 pm on January 18th, my winter vacation officially begins and it doesn't stop until March 3rd, when classes resume. That's a lot of reading time. I'm designating several days in advance as pajama days. Sigh. Long hours of silence, broken only by the crackle of pages turning...

Wake up, Bybee. You've still got one more week of serving up grammar and other useful language skills.


kookie said...

Oh, Bybee, you have such a way with words..

"people pour in and out of those trains like blood from an unstanched wound"

That's awesome. Have a great weekend.

jenclair said...

I agree that the end of Water For Elephants was contrived, but boy, did it leave me happy. I'd never considered that we might hear more from Jacob, but I'd enjoy giving him another go.

How wonderful that Bookleaves continues to improve! The Kite Runner and anything by Christopher Moore will make for interesting discussions. I keep saying I'm going to read Suite Francais...but don't.

herschelian said...

Wow 'He died with a falafel in his hand' takes me back....I gave my son a copy one Christmas when he was leaving home to share a house with some other guys. It is horribly funny.

Melwyk said...

I enjoyed Water for Elephants, probably because I liked Jacob - I think those who didn't really like this book didn't buy into his character.

And the Ostenso is Manitoba!

Bybee said...

You should see the crowds, but we're talking 47 million people in something the size of Minnesota. Also, 70% of this country is made up of mountains, so people squeeze into the other 30%.

I was just trying to imagine what happened after the novel ended. Glad that Gruen didn't leave us stranded on a gloomy note, especially since Jacob had had such a happy life.

I'd never heard of this book before..sounds like it's got fans!

Thanks for coming up with the province.

Mme. H. said...

I just have to say: the Koreans are definitely doing this winter break thing RIGHT. That is, if the climate there is anything like the US climate. I, for one, am completely drained of energy and just want to hibernate from January until spring comes. I would trade my summer break (June and July) for January and February off any day!

joemmama said...

All of the books you have coming up are among my favorites! You have some fun ahead of you!!!

Tara said...

Wasnt' Water for Elephants great!? In any other book I would have thought the ending crazy myself, but I thought it fit just perfectly here and left me with a full heart. So glad your book group is thriving!

John Mutford said...

Hey, isn't Water For Elephants Canadian?

Bybee said...

Mme H,
Winter break is great, but all of August off is good here as well because in South Korea in August, it's too hot to live.

Yeah, I'm really pleased with the lineup.

I just hope that Jacob got to continue on with his dream.
I think he did because that guy respected that he was part of significant circus history.

I didn't realize until recently that Sara Gruen is Canadian. I think she lives in the States now, though.