Readers and Writers and Book Clubs – Oh My!

25 Mar

Do you belong to a book club?  I am in two different book clubs.  Shortly after retiring from 35 years of teaching, I was asked to join a new start-up book club group.  Most of the members were retired teachers, but not all.  We all are in the same age group (50 and older).  It took us well into the first year to decide how to choose books, but we have a great system.  The “Leader” chooses the book to read and asks the discussion questions and the “Hostess” provides the house and light snacks.  We meet once a month and have serious but fun discussions on each selected book.  We have read some great novels – The Help, Water for Elephants, and The Paris Wife just to name a few.  We even go to see the movie together when it comes out if there is one.  We have developed some great friendships with each other and have read some wonderful books.

My second book group was started for a number of reasons.  I love reading books on my Kindle.  I love introducing new authors to friends.  I love eating.  I love laughing.  I love romance books.  I love spending not much money on books.  What could I do to combine all these loves?  Well, my brother owns a fantastic restaurant that serves a great lunch.  He has a big table in the back for small groups.  The lunch crowd has usually slowed down after 1:00.  Why not invite anyone who wants to read on their eReaders to share lunch and books they have enjoyed?  So, my sister and I started The Brainless Bargain eBook Book Club at Breadstyx Bistro.  We meet every other Monday and eat lunch, laugh, and sometimes actually discuss the chosen book.  The protocol for this group is a bit different though – I get to choose the books!  I do ask for suggestions, but so far, there have only been a few from the other members.  We do have one rule – the book must cost $5 or less.

Many self-published authors list one of their books “free” for a day, week, or month for readers to snatch, read, and hopefully enjoy enough to buy their other books.  My job has been to read these and decide if they are worthy of the members’ time and money.  I have “met” so many wonderful writers doing this.  I have introduced my friends to some great new romance authors:  Ruth Cardello, Marie Force, Donna McDonald, and Tawna Fenske, along with some established writers Carly Phillips and Gemma Halliday.  I try to contact these authors before we meet to have them answer some of my questions and see if they are willing to Skype with us.  Some have Skyped and others have sent some “swag” for sharing with the group.  I’ll tell you all about that in a later blog.

Back to my original question: Do you belong to a Book Club?  If your answer is “no” and you love to read – make up your own group and enjoy the benefit of sharing your love of reading with friends.  There are no set rules – your group can decide how often, where, what book, and who chooses.  Just find some buddies that share your interests and go have some coffee and discuss!  Happy Reading!

My Return to HEA

11 Oct

And they lived happily ever after.  The End.  It was my favorite kind of story.  My mother used to read to us every night, or at least that’s the way I remember it.  We had a beautiful book of fairy tales.  My favorite was Rapunzel – I thought rampion sounded exotic. And who wouldn’t be in love with a man who would scale walls to get you your heart’s desire? All the fairy tales – the girl gets the Prince – my dream come true.  Then it was time to read on my own.  Trixie Belden occupied much of my reading time.  She was still happy at the end.  Mystery solved.

As I grew older, teachers made me read certain books that they thought all teenagers must read to get through life.  The one I remember most is The Catcher in the Rye.  Not that I remember the story, but there was a scene in it that had parents up in arms.  As none of us really wanted to read it, all of a sudden it was the best read book – at least that one part.  Other “have to” reads – Animal Farm, Ethan Frome, and 1984.  If memory serves me correctly I remember police were pigs, a sledding accident, and Big Brother is watching you.  That’s about it.  I could have lived a full life without those! Some weren’t even happy at the end.

The novels I still remember are those that I chose – my all time favorite Gone With the Wind, Dr. Zhivago, and The Valley of the Dolls.  That last entry was one that my mom had sort of hidden in her room and I found it.  I smuggled it into my bedroom, closed the door and proceeded to read it in one setting, afraid that my mom would find out and take it away from me.  It opened my eyes to a new world of romance novels!  But only for a bit. . .  Besides, I had to convince myself that they would be happy, the author just didn’t finish it yet.  Rhett will return.  Yuri finds Lara.

Through college I continued reading.  My sister and I joined Doubleday Book Club, sharing the commitment to purchase five more books in a year’s time.  My choices were usually suspenseful espionage novels.  Robert Ludlum was a favorite.  I was educated and felt that reading anything less would be frivolous.  Summer found me reading as many international intrigue books as I could before school started again. Not necessarily happy, but the world was safer.

For many years I continued reading “dramatic” works.  I saw those “scandalous” covers with Fabio in bookstores and couldn’t figure out who in the world would ever read that trash.  Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts – never!  Even though many teachers talked about enjoying those two.  One year I had two students’ parents that were good friends and wanted to buy me a novel for Christmas.  They asked me which book I would like.  Since I liked reading best-selling novels, I told them to just pick one from the best-selling list  and surprise me.  Boy was I surprised!!  Nora Roberts had just published Northern Lights and of course it made the best seller list.  My first very own hard-covered Romance Novel!!  I was kind of embarrassed, but I brought it with me on the high school band’s trip to Florida and read it on the bus.  It was good.  I was hooked!  Who wouldn’t want to read a book that was lighthearted, passionate, and euphoric?  Everyone eventually gets what they want.  Soul mates unite.  True love wins.

My choices have changed.  Find me a book that will make me happy. Real life is tough – romance is easy.  Don’t worry, be happy.  Let those spies continue to make others paranoid.  Give me “And they lived happily ever after.  The End.”

What am I?

6 Oct

I know I am a reader – I’ve loved reading since first grade when Mrs. Oxley introduced new words each day and I committed them to memory.  My reading grades were wonderful!  I can read quickly and comprehend what was read.  I also know I probably read too much (is that really possible?  my family thinks so).  I taught first, second, and third grade for 35 years and have found that sitting and reading for enjoyment is a lovely way to spend retirement.  My sitting room off my bedroom tells me that I also buy too many books, so I thought I’d be smart and buy a Kindle.  That way I could be a “closet reader” and no one would know how many books I have!  Twelve hundred plus books later, I have to admit, MAYBE I read too much.  But what the heck- I’m retired!  I enjoy it!  I worked hard, raised a family, and now I can do whatever I darn well please!  Who cares how high the piles of mail get?  (maybe my husband. . . .)

Recently I tried my hand at writing.  I entered a contest and won, although winning had much more to do with collecting friends and brow-beating them to vote than actually the quality of the writing.  Through this contest a number of people told me I should write.  But, AM I A WRITER?  I’ve never pictured myself as one.  In fact, I found it the hardest thing to teach to children.  In high school it was definitely not my forte.  I also ruined my GPA in college with Freshman English and composition.  All signs pointed to the fact that I was most certainly NOT a writer.  I have always thought this.  Was I wrong?

My sister is a writer.  She wrote a fantastic book.  Everyone should read it – it’s called The Holy Order of the Womb Women.  My middle daughter is a writer.  She has her blog and writes about being a mother.  She’s a great writer too – her blog is Bona Fide Bites.  Look it up!  But me?  Both of them tell me I should write.  My sister even talked about us writing a book together.  Can’t even imagine it!  My daughter set up this blog for me.  They believe in me.  I still don’t think I do, but I’m going to try to at least blog every once in a while.  If reading more makes you a better reader, then writing more may make me a better writer.  Who knows, maybe I will find out I am a writer.  Most likely, I will just find an outlet for expressing opinions on my love of reading.  Stick around and see how I turn out!