While I won’t promise to not revisit this topic in January-New-Year’s-Resolution-Month, today is my final fall push for encouraging Greater Seattleites to start or join a neighborhood book club. Honestly, I believe it is one of the best ways to connect, thaw the Seattle Freeze and bring neighbors together to form deeper friendships.
Don’t believe me? Below are testimonials from my previous and current neighbors highlighting their journeys and enjoyment of participating in a book club. Below that, as promised, is our short list of Recommended Reads that elicited GREAT book club discussions that we offer up to help you get started. Oh, and Tom says “Happy Halloween!”
Book Club Testimonials
It’s so great to sit down and discuss a really great book with friends who have also read it. Books can inspire, teach, sweep you away as well as make you laugh and cry; they’re part of our history and pop culture, too. Not every book affects each person the same way so it can be very interesting to consider a different perspective or excitedly discuss why you all loved or hated a particular character.
It’s nice to read something that you might not have picked out yourself – getting out of your literary comfort zone now and then. Some meetings are more about the book while others meander onto other topics like kids, schools, or wherever the spirit moves us!
Being a part of a book group offers such a variety of opportunities, and the reasons for joining one are just as varied. Being encouraged toward intellectual thoughtfulness and neighborhood connectivity were part of my grand plan, and the promise of an amazing dessert didn’t hurt.
Keeping connected with my neighbors was a challenge, especially through the short, grey days of winter when we all disappear behind the garage door. A monthly book club helped cut through that.
Does anyone need an excuse to read a good book? Do we find surprises in a book we might otherwise have overlooked? Our selections are as varied as our lives. Because of this girls’ night out with friends – and the chance to make new friends – our lives are all the richer.
I joined our book club to get to know the neighborhood ladies a bit better and to have a conversation without children present, not an easy task when one is a stay-at-home mom. With a house full of kids, just getting to complete a sentence can be a challenge, let alone making the time and effort to build friendships. I was also curious as to what other people were reading. I love books and it seemed like a natural fit.
Yes, there are times when we spend the first hour talking about ourselves and our own affairs. In fact, we usually catch up with one another first and then get down (somewhat guiltily) to the topic of the book. But we always do get there eventually. No, we don’t use this time as an excuse to eat and drink mindlessly. In fact, there’s been some of the deepest discussions I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing.
I’m glad I continued to show up month after month, as often as I could, through my divorce and re-entry into the working world. Though I moved out of the original ‘hood, the book club gals continue to welcome me as one of their own. I think our reading choices have brought out the best in us. We don’t sit around and complain about our men, despite the stereotypes of wine swilling book club gals. Sometimes, there’s adult beverages and sometimes not, who cares? What there is consistently, amid our busy lives, is companionship.
We all come together in a supportive way and talk about the books and things that matter to us. Our numbers have fluctuated wildly over the years and not all of us manage to finish the monthly book on time (that would be me.) But it doesn’t matter. We’re an inclusive group. I will always be grateful to Wendy for taking the initiative to start a book club with acquainted strangers. Somewhere along the way, we turned into good friends.
Too often in life my encounters with people are surface level only, without any depth. By joining the neighborhood book club, I’ve found the chance to get to know others on a deeper level.
To quote Mr. Rogers: “People want to know they are valuable enough to be listened to. Some things are so fragmented in this life, so kind of quick. I just don’t think relationships are disposable. They’re to be nourished.”
My Book Club’s Best Reads List for Great Discussions
All Joy and No Fun; Jennifer Senior
Angela’s Ashes; Frank McCourt
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons; Lorna Landvik
The Art of Fielding; Chad Harbach
The Boys in the Boat; Daniel James Brown
The Bull from the Sea; Mary Renault
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir; Roz Chast
The Century Trilogy (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity); Ken Follett
Cutting for Stone; Abraham Verghese
East of Eden; John Steinbeck
Expecting Adam; Martha Beck
Eye of the Needle; Ken Follett T
he Glass Castle: A Memoir; Jeannette Walls
The Goldfinch; Donna Tartt
Gone With the Wind; Margaret Mitchell
Grace (Eventually); Anne Lamott
Great Expectations; Charles Dickens
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; Mary Ann Shaffer
The Help; Kathryn Stockett
The Kill Artist, (first book in the Gabriel Allon series); Daniel Silva
The King Era (multiple books); Taylor Branch
The King Must Die; Mary Renault
The Language of Flowers; Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Little Prince; Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A Long Way Gone; Ishmael Beah
Memoirs of a Geisha; Arthur Gold
My Life in France; Julia Child
Next; Michael Crichton
The Orchardist; Amanda Coplin
Orphan Train; Christina Baker Kline
The Other Boleyn Girl; Philippa Gregory
Outlander; Diana Gabaldon
The Pillars of the Earth/World Without End; Ken Follett
The Poisonwood Bible; Barbara Kingsolver
The Red Tent; Anita Diamont
Replay; Ken Grimwood
Robespierre: The Voice of Virtue; Otto Scott
The Rosie Project; Graeme Simsion
Seabiscuit; Laura Hillenbrand
The Secrets of Mary Bowser; Lois Leveen
Sense and Sensibility; Jane Austen
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan; Lisa See
The Speed of Dark; Elizabeth Moon
A Tale of Two Cities; Charles Dickens
The Secret Life of Bees; Sue Monk Kidd
The Signature of All things; Elizabeth Gilbert
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle; David Wroblewski
The Tale of Calpurnia Tate; Jacqueline Kelly
Those Who Save Us; Jenna Blum
War Brides; Helen Bryan
Water for Elephants; Sara Gruen
Wintergarden; Kristin Hannah
Where’d You Go Burnadette?; Maria Semple