Thursday, April 14, 2011

Virtual Book Club

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I missed being in a book club. I liked finding books that I wouldn't have picked up on my own, and I liked the deadline idea--knowing that I had to finish a book by a certain time. Of course I also liked talking about books with others who'd read them too. Now that I think about it, that was probably my favorite thing about being an English teacher--talking about books. Not that my students always read the books assigned. But I could count on some of them. And there were usually several every year who really got into, say, The Great Gatsby or Fahrenheit 451. That almost made up for all the others who hated with a passion The Scarlet Letter. (A good book, by the way, and I feel like I can say that with confidence, considering I probably read it 25 times.)

But back to book clubs, specifically, a virtual book club. Since no one has thrown out any ideas for what we (and I use the term "we" loosely to describe the handful of my Facebook friends who happened to have clicked on this blog) should read, I'm going to throw out a few choices. These are books that happen to be sitting on my bedside table at the moment:

1. The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. I've read several books by Patchett (Bel Canto was my favorite) and I've been meaning to read this one for a while. According to the blurb on the back of the book: "When Parsifal, a handsome and charming magician, dies suddenly, his widow Sabine--who was also his faithful assistant for twenty years--learns that the family he claimed to have lost in a tragic accident is very much alive and well." Hmm. Interesting...

2. Zadie Smith's On Beauty. Not sure when I picked up this novel, but I've heard that the writer is good. On the inside flap it says: "What are the truly beautiful things in life and how far will you go to get them?"

3. Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins. Okay. The funny thing about this book is that my son had to read it last year for summer reading and he literally hated every minute of it. Really. He moaned and complained and read lines out loud disdainfully and I couldn't help being curious. How bad could it be? The better question might be, why was this lush-looking, literary novel assigned to 17 year old boys? Says the snippet of review on the cover: "One of the most suggestively original love stories in our current fiction..." Yeah. Someone didn't think this choice through.

So here are the rules for our online book club: Read one of these books. Or read all of them. Now that I've taken the time to actually look at them, that's what I'm going to do. Let's set a deadline for ourselves before we check back. Say, two months from now. Which should give us plenty of time. For the record, all of these should be easy to come by in paperback or at the library. Mid June, I'll post my response and anyone who wants to can chime in. Maybe someone can bring a bottle of virtual wine. Someone else can sign up to provide cheese and crackers.

Should be a blast. See you then.

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