I am the youngest person in my book club…by far. I like it that way. I learn something new every time we meet. Not to mention I get to eat delicious home cooked food and drink great wine! This third Monday of every month has been a tradition for the past 16 years.
This book club has been a constant through major pages (see how I did that) of my adult life.
- I started it before I met my husband
- I got engaged and married
- I had my first baby
- I had my second baby
- I have been married 10 years now
- The story continues
We read one book a month. That’s almost 200 books over the course of 16 (and counting) years. We welcome members with open arms and don’t turn anyone away if they didn’t read or didn’t finish the books for the month…Life gets busy…
As with any books one reads there is either a connection or there isn’t. Some more than others. Right? It’s funny, often the books our group disliked the most garnered the most discussion.
I have compiled a list of my favorites over the years. They were personally memorable and made for a memorable book club meeting. In no particular order as they are all loved.
The Light Between Two Oceans, by M.L. Stedman is about as ‘shake you to your core’ as they come. Isolation, betrayal, love, agony, tragedy, and loyalty abound all over these pages. It’s a love story in the most desperate way. If your book club is full of mom’s (as most are) this book will haunt you and make you feel the deepest kind of torment a mother and child can go through.
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlin is a celebration of a book, as indicated by its title. When I grow up I’d like to be Anna Quidlen, so I might be biased in choosing this book, but it DID rock the book club boat a bit. It seemed one of those books some loved and some despised. No in between. I was the former, obviously. Quindlen reflects about her life as a young mom and writer and all of the tangles that come with those obligations and dreams. At the same time, now a woman in her 60’s, she finds herself in a similar maze to find the definition of what is to come after 60. The book embraces hard work, family love, the struggles of women in work and life, and many new beginnings. All with the unmistakable humor of Anna Quindlen. I’d find it hard to believe most women couldn’t relate in some way to her wise words.
The Husband’s Secret, by Laine Moriarty is right in my wheelhouse. I am a sucker for stories that involve many separate lives that all end up woven in some way. This book nails it! The mystery element had me guessing up until the end. Don’t dismiss this book as a simple mystery read. The characters are deep and real. Each making their own impact as the story unravels. Your heart will be warmed, you will relate to one or more of the characters in some way as they are all pulled from the world most of us live in. You will be stunned and feel fear, sadness, regret, and love for these made-up lives who live in this next to normal world.
Inside the O’Briens, by Lisa Genova attempts to wrap ones head around the crippling and eventually fatal Huntington’s disease through the body of Joe O’Brien, a 44 year old Boston Police officer with a loving family. This story is so about so much more than a guy with a disease. Its about the power of family, even in the darkest moments. The will to live your best life, even when faced with a limited timeline and the willingness to accept those who may not be exactly like us because they have made the ones we love better people.
Every Day, by David Levithan surpasses anything I have ever imagined. Levithan mixes what would be considered fantasy or science fiction into the laps of the everyday reader. I’m not drawn to fantasy and science fiction is not my jam, but this book made me really wonder…”what if?” The story revolves around the main character who is fighting against time and place while weaving an impossible love story with an ending rooted in comfort, sadness, necessity, and impossibility. The suspension of disbelief while reading this book will propel you from page to page. I missed this book when it was over.
Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini is, hands down in the top 5 of the most powerful stories I have ever read. This haunting tale follows a little boy into his adulthood tracing his friendships, family, and history of his country into an epic journey of self-realization. This book makes country borders invisible in the light of friendship and family, but glaringly sharp in the light of where this little boy fit into the folds of Afghanistan as the book spans the 30 years of his journey and the tumultuous state of the country. You will feel exhausted and fulfilled upon finishing this story with desire to know more. ***Here’s a tip that changed the tone of the book for me. After I finished the last page I went back to the beginning and read it again. Just the first few pages. Haunting and unforgettable.
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern was a book I was NOT excited about reading. I mean I am a 43 year old mom and wife…How could I relate to a circus? Let me tell you there was no relating – only magic. I have a hard time explaining where this book begins and ends but I can tell you it is filled with lovely words, passion on every level, the longing for youth and love, lost and found, all wrapped up in a place at the thresholds between dusk and dawn. Perhaps, only in dreams. you will be so glad you picked this book up to read and so sad when this magical story ends.
The Aviators Wife, by Melanie Benjamin is a historical novel based on the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Every good ladies book club needs a book about a strong woman. You will find your strong woman in Anne. The author takes us on Anne’s journey as she rides in the back seat to her famous husband’s fame. She is tormented with an education she cannot use, adultery, loss of a child, poverty, and the ever-glaring public eye. However, through it all Anne holds her head up high, loves with deep devotion, carries herself with grace, and overcomes the place she inhabits in society ,as a woman and the wife of a world icon to make a new future for herself. Teaching us the important lesson of, ‘It’s never too late.’
The Dead Key, by D.M. Pulley is just a fun book. It takes place in Cleveland, Ohio (where I am from), so I’m partial, however I promise its a good story. I wouldn’t make the cut if the plot wasn’t up to par. This page-turner suspense novel toggles between past and present and the search for the ‘Dead Key.’ You will meet some interesting characters between these pages and find clues where you least expect. Your book club will appreciate the history , character line-up, and fast-paced thriller quality of this novel.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed documents a woman who was willing to leave it all in order to find it all. This is the powerful memoir of Cheryl Strayed. A woman who left her husband, job, home, and family to hike the rugged Pacific Crest Trail by herself. Her journey encompasses terrifying, frustrating, exhausting, painful, ravenous, peaceful, awe-inspiring, comforting, and life-changing/near-death experiences. You will be caught up in her adventure and out of breath as you hike this proverbial and literal trail with her.