Monday, November 11, 2013

book club at last, an unreview

Tonight, after a sad postponement last month, the lovely ladies of my book club met again. Since we were discussing two books I've reviewed previously (October's choice Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre and Let's Just Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, which I read and reviewed last September) I really don't have a review for tonight. 

But I like to be consistent, and since the start up phase of our book club may be informative for others looking to start their own, I thought I'd blog anyway. Tonight was the first time we've had a full ten women at our meeting. When we started out ten was our goal; right now there are eleven on the list but in the course of time I'm sure it'll settle out to ten. 

There were two new women again tonight, which necessitated another brief run-down of the basic suggestions (a.k.a. guidelines ... we try to avoid the term 'rules')we've been operating under:
  • book club is essentially about growing strong relationships with other women. The books are a means for accomplishing that and a structure for expanding our reading, not the end in themselves
  • since it is a book club it would be nice if everyone read the book, but, given the first rule of book club, nicer still if people attended whether they've read the book or not
  • we plan to take turns hosting 10 months of the year (the hostess cooks a gluten-free dinner because I - the celiac of the group - am hugely spoiled), have a potluck in December, and a retreat sometime in summer. At least, we hope that's how it will go
  • conversation during dinner is about life - right now we're in the getting to know you stage, though there always seems to be one moment in the conversation where things get very real. 
  • we don't talk about the book until after dinner, and are discouraged from reading reviews or discussing the book much before then. 
  • the book talk begins with a quick round of three statements each: Did you like the book? Give a 2-word review. Would you recommend it? 
So far the guidelines have worked pretty well, though there were moments tonight when I felt like there were too many people in the room having too many conversations. I love the reading, and I really love the incredible dinners (tonight's was the most delicious, succulent roast chicken, fluffy mashed potatoes, a lovely fresh salad, and chocolate cups of ice cream and granola - preceded with 'squirrel meat' appetizers - so cute!), but what I really go for is the conversation. 

I know all about the stages of group formation from my teaching days and group projects. I know that right now we are forming, that there will be some norming and storming down the road, and that eventually we'll hit a comfortable stride and be performing. The women of my book club are all interesting, accomplished, courageous women. Some have children, from expected-in-a-few-months to my young adults. Some have cats. Some have husbands or boyfriends while others have stories about not having husbands and boyfriends. We have stories and hopes and dreams and adventures. And I can't wait to hear them all. 

Some oddball taxidermy, in honour of The Bloggess.

the weight of water: a review

This book was as beautifully written as it was horrifying. Having had nightmares in the week following reading it that directly related to the story's content, I almost wish I hadn't read it. Except, as I said, it was beautifully written. Silver lights. Green waters. Still moments. And then, vivid horror and, even worse, creeping insidious betrayal. 

I am partial to stories of the sea. I am less partial to stories that move back and forth in time between two parallel yet distinct sets of characters - it sometimes works, but in this case felt contrived. I am less partial still to characters whose cruelest actions remain unrepented. There is darkness here that seemed out of place. I don't need a book full of Pollyanna's (in fact, lord save us from saccharine), but if there is to be evil, let it be ... understandable. 

I try not to read too much about books before I read them as I like to experience them with fresh eyes. And, I am trying to broaden my reading horizons as a writing exercise (not that I've written much lately) - I think each author has something to teach me. 

Still and all, I wish I hadn't read this. It's not a condemnation of the writing - it just didn't suit my 'delicate sensibilities.' Life isn't all Jane Austen, but it's not all Stieg Larsson either. 

Amazon Associate link.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


After 12 years of blogging, I feel like maybe I'm done. I think about it a lot and have many ideas, but I swallow the words down before they get out into the world. It's not just content that been holding me back - it's the bigger picture:

  • If I'm going to keep calling myself a writer, I need to write elsewhere, not spend my writing currency on a meaningless blog. I need a structure and a plan and the space and time and energy to give to it.
  • What would I have to change in my life to have the energy and juice to really start writing again? 
  • My blog as it currently exists is narcissistic - no one is interested in my writings about me - I need to find a niche
  • A blog can't be all book reviews, yet the personal stuff is ... done, unsafe, uninteresting
  • Should I just shut it down? Should I relaunch as something more focused? What could I write about that would actually keep me interested, not to mention feed an audience something nourishing? 
I'm not the only navel gazer out there. 

There are 13 draft posts sitting waiting in the background for completion. Several of them are book reviews, some are just the beginning of ideas, a couple are drafted but don't seem like the good idea they were when I wrote them. Every couple days I'll think of something I want to say, then change my mind. The statements are things I should be saying to people in my life; the questions are ones only I can answer. Nothing's wrong, per se, but things don't fit right. 

And ... I'm exhausted. Bone tired. Worn out to the core. I think constantly about running away - about reading in front of a fireplace with a dog curled at my feet, about hours and days and weeks of quiet and comfort and space. I am taking a beach vacation in three weeks - 7 all-inclusive sandy, sunny, relaxing days with my sister and our parents. Already I think it won't be enough, but it is what I can afford in time and money.  

Maybe it's the time of year. Maybe it's the time of life. 


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