Book Clubs: Testimonials and a Reading List

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.

[Read Becky’s “The 4 Reasons Why I Highly Recommend Starting or Joining a Neighborhood Book Club“]

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!”

Sensing the impending doom of the calendar flipping to November, Tom, In the midst of his nervous whistle, quickly donned his Halloween costume hoping that his holiday spirit might endear him as part of the family, staving off the potential calamity that might lie ahead.

Sensing the impending doom of the calendar flipping to November, Tom, in the midst of his nervous whistle, quickly donned his Halloween costume hoping that his holiday spirit might endear him as part of the family, staving off the potential calamity that might lie ahead.

Book Club Testimonials

From Sue:

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!

From Sherry:

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.

From Elizabeth:

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.

From Jenny:

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

HalloweenTablescape

Boo!

This entry was posted in Connecting, neighbors, The Seattle Freeze and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Share a comment