Book club last night....

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.....ran long, and mostly because we were laughing and talking, not discussing books. But finally we did get around to setting the list for the next 11 months.

First some words of explanation. We read a VERY SERIOUS list of books over the last two years, and we decided that we are ready for somewhat of a break from the heaviness. Not that what we read wasn't GOOD, mind you, but it was all tough on the heart and brains.

So, we decided to mix in some not so heavy reading this year. In effect, to vacation a bit.

I have to go through and put this in some sort of order--mixing them up appropriately. But here's what my book club will be reading in 2004:

1. Original Sin by P.D. James. In the 4 years of our book club's existence we've never read a mystery. So, here's one.

2. Moo by Jane Smiley. I'm afraid this may be too similar to Russo's Straight Man, which many of the members have read (though not specifically for the club), but we'll see.

3. On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town by Susan Herrmann Loomis. One of our members owns a small house in France. We want to see how true to life the book is. And, of course, we'll probably make some of the recipes and bring them to the meeting to EAT!

4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Recommended by someone on the blog. One member of club has read it and smiled and smiled when we mentioned it.

5. The Human Stain by Phillip Roth. I'm a little unsure of this one. It may be too "out there" for some of our members. I'll mark it with a rating so at least they'll be aware of what they're getting into.

6. A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle. Sort of like A Year in Provence, but from his dog's viewpoint. Do you think we're wishing we could go to France?

7. The British Museum is Falling Down by David Lodge. Who can resist a book with the Church's position on contraception at its heart?

8. Queen Lucia by E. F. Benson. To be followed by watching a video or two of the PBS adaptation.

9. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. The only SF we've read was Perelandra, which isn't quite the same. I love the whole Ender series, so this was my suggestion.

10. Black Robe by Brian Moore. We're tired of priest books, but we did decide to add this one, since it was discussed in Crisis magazine. We'll shift it to the end of the year, though so we'll have a nice long break from what one member calls the "Priest and Nun Books" we've read so much of.

11. Welding with Children by Tim Gatreaux. A book of short stories by a Louisiana writer. We've read a lot of Southern regional fiction, but nothing by him.

Books that didn't make the book club list, but are on my personal reading list for the next 12 months:

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
The Mystic Masseur by V. S. Naipaul
Brain Storm by Richard Dooling
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith



smocks down on the shipping news. grossly OVERrated read iffin you ask me.

Some predictions concerning Queen Lucia: Some members will just not get it, and will complain that the characters lead shallow, selfish lives of spitefulness and social climbing. (We knew that.) Some members will go ape over it, and there won't be a used copy of Make Way For Lucia (the complete chronicles in hardback, now out of print) to be had for love or money in the whole Lone Star State. And at least one member may even take up saying "tarsome" and "Au reservoir" until everybody gets fed up and makes her stop. I'll read along with you, but boiling oil wouldn't make me read anything by Jane Smiley.

Nice - that "light read" list is heavier than most people's "heavy read" lists. I'm very curious about #7; I thought Lodge was writing against the Church's position on contraception. Jane Smiley is uneven; some of her books are unreadable, others like "Moo" and "Ladder of Years" are very enjoyable (though for very different reasons - Moo is funny and Ladder is not. But then I like pokes at academia. David Lodge's "Small World" was humorous too.)

Good call on Ender's Game. Great series.

OSC is a practising Mormon, which I wouldn't have guessed from that series, what with that interesting order "The Society of the Mind of the Lamb of God" or whatever they're called.

TSO-I thought he was writing FOR, but FOR or AGAINST it should provoke some good discussion. Did Jane Smiley write Ladder of Years? I thought it was Ann Tyler, but I'm probably mistaken.

Kenny--I think OSC is one Mormon who writes very respectfully of "Catholicism"--though I think it isn't actually called that in the books. You know when the priest goes off to convert the other species? Very nicely done, I thought. It surprised me he was a Mormon--and a Mormon Sunday School teacher at that!

TLS - you are correct, it was Tyler.

I read Mayle's _A Dog's Life_ a long time ago, and really, really liked it a lot. _The Life of Pi_ I have not read, but it sounds really good. Those are the two on your list I would vote for if given the chance.

Dear TLS,

I loved the Kalihari detective series. And much of your list looks like a real romp--a lot of fun mixed with a few challenges (The Human Stain, for example.) I shall be most interested in what you have to say regarding it all.





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