Saturday, October 30, 2010

30 Before 30: # 28 Organize a Summer Book Club

Good thing I said that I only needed to organize a summer book club, because it was disasterous! I started the SBC in July with the book Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The impetus behind the club was to help me stay accountable for reading over the summer. I had found that my ravenous reading had dwindled to meager snippets here and there with the pressures of being a SAHM and no real involvement in academia per se. I don't usually read multiple books by a single author, but I have coincidentally found that every book (ok, everybook but one) I have read from the Salinas native has been a real enjoyment. I love his style and authenticity. I love his grit and compassion. I love his insight into the human character and the unassuming way he goes about presenting it. I've only read 5 of his books, but that is more than any other author for me. Anyways, I chose Grapes of Wrath for June and invited people through Facebook and some word of mouth. At the time of the invite, I had not decided on a book, but I later messaged people to tell them it was to be GOW. Only two people replied that they were coming, but as I messaged them to confirm, neither knew that I had actually chosen a book. I don't know how it happened, but through some communication error, June's book club only had two people saying that they would come, but unaware of the reading.
I made a stronger attempt in July to make sure people knew when we were meeting and what we were reading. However, I boggled this month's club too. I chose Dave Egger's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I memoir of sorts, I chose it because it was talked about highly in some circles I used to frequent and he had won a Pulitzer for a different work, and I had bought it years ago and it was just sitting on my bookshelf. I sent out the invite and started reading. That's when I realized that although I cannot expect pagan authors to keep their works clean, that I was unwilling to ask my friends to read this book which was stuffed full of vulgar language. It wasn't just an exclamatory here or there, it was superfluous and gratuitous vulgar language. So, I had to change the book; the problem was that some people had already replied they were going to come based on the book choice! I chose The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs instead. This book is about an atheist Jew who chooses to try and live out the Bible literally. He doesn't cut his hair, blows a horn every morning and stones adulterers. It was amusing and insightful, but I would have liked to discuss his shortcomings in regards to the new testament. I chose this book because my mom and Tim had already read it. I think I was hoping to at least host someone! Some people said they would come, but changed plans at the last minute and I was left alone on another book club.
For August, I took a request from Becky Lawlor and we read Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It was a good book and a totally engaging read. However, I changed the meeting date on everyone because of some scheduling conflict and successfully bumped anyone who was planning on coming from actually coming. In the end, I was glad to be done with my bungled book club because it was a little stressful for me to choose the books, wonder who would come and then prepare to entertain. I am so enjoying being part of a book club, but not organizing it anymore. Oh well, I did it! And, it's one more thing off my list =)
Love, Lauren

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