On joining a book club and being surrounded by life experience

Dear Vi,

Last October I was invited into a book club by my friend Jean.

Call me a nerd, but I have always wanted to be in a book club!

It was a little intimidating at first, to tell the truth. I mean, this is a super-educated, well-traveled, well-read, well-spoken circle of impressive critical thinkers who can also cook like nobody’s business. They meet each month at a different member’s house, and you should see the spread each month’s hostess puts on! OMG seriously delicious…I could belong to this group just for the wine and “lunch.”

I am the youngest at 57. Our eldest member hosts 90 years with grace and a keen wit. I want to be just like her some day.

…Also, this is a long standing group of friends who have been reading together for decades. Yes, you read that right. Decades. (Did I say I felt a little intimidated? Yeah.)

And they have welcomed me. Which blows me away. I can’t even…

I’ve read four books with them so far: The Golden Age by Joan London; Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto; The Alice Network by Kate Quinn; and The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman. This month they are reading Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. Quite the eclectic selection!

It is really interesting hearing their opinions, and especially–especially!– soaking up the stories they tell around each novel’s topic. For example, when discussing The Golden Age, the group reminisced about Polio. Uh huh. Reminisced. And after reading Forgiveness, they told their own stories about friends and acquaintances (of Japanese descent) who had been forced into internment camps during the Second World War.

Here’s the thing: I have lived most of my adult life surrounded by people my age or younger. It wasn’t until we moved to Salmon Arm that I had the opportunity to spend much time with the generation one up from mine, to listen to first-hand stories on subjects that are, well…historical from my perspective.

I feel the same about the quilters guild that I belong to, where eight members are turning 80 this year, and one will celebrate 100 years in April.

Being part of these two groups is like being surrounded by a room of older sisters, aunts, and even a grandmother or two. And the laughter! Let me tell you, these ladies like to laugh.

Seriously, if the collective life experience of these women could be transmogrified into electricity, it would power a small city.

Do you have the opportunity to participate in an activity with a diverse group of people including those a generation older than you?

And do you belong to a book club? If you don’t and you’d like to, ask at your public library. I’ll bet they can point you in the right direction.

Read on!

Goodreads and a Book Review: Pines by Blake Crouch

Dear Vi,

I joined Goodreads. I mean to use it as a way of keeping track of the books I’ve read. I’m so terrible at remembering titles and authors … maybe this will help.

Or maybe it will just be another social media chore that I’ll neglect. Like Instagram, which I joined but never remember to check. Ditto Twitter. And FaceBook.

Anyway, I just finished reading Pines by Blake Crouch. This is a ZERO SPOILER review. You’re welcome.

Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

What did I think?

I loved the premise and the mystery kept me turning the pages, so in that sense the book was a success. However, in the end, when I read the last line and closed the book, I felt vaguely disappointed. I had been unable to suspend my disbelief enough to truly get lost in the pages.

In my opinion, this could have been an outstanding work of science fiction – truly epic. Perhaps the sequels will fill in some of the blanks and go into the depth the topic begs for.

I gave it three stars on Goodreads (I liked it). Have you read it? What did you think?

Do you use Goodreads?

 

“At that time of night, the only traffic consisted of trucks filled with bodies and detainees, and police cars that roamed the streets like lost wolves howling in the darkness of the curfew.”

That sentence was written by Isabel Allende, and can be found at the bottom of page 442 in her 1985 novel, The House of the Spirits.

I honestly think this may be one of the most perfect sentences ever written.

You don’t need to know what the book is about to feel the fear and despair in these words.

I won’t do a book review on The House of the Spirits because there are so many on the internet already.  I will tell you, though, that I’ll probably read it again someday.

What’s on your nightstand?

p442 IsabelAllende