Memoirs of a Book Club

Memoirs of a Book Club

So, what have you read lately?

My answer is always the same, “anything and everything!” My philosophy for the last few years has been to read anything that people are talking about, regardless of genre. I must say that this philosophy is serving me well – a huge improvement over choosing books at random off the bookshelf at the airport bookstore. Most importantly, this method has given me lots of inspiration for my own writing.

At the end of the day, I love to write – but I’m a business woman at heart and I can’t shake that off. I read popular books not to be cool (because I know that only my husband is ever going to think I’m cool!) I read them to figure out the “Why?”, so that I can try to learn. Why do certain books become a breakout success? Do they have a great hook, like 50 Shades of Grey (E. L. James)?

My aspirational reading list should include absolutely everything that is currently making a splash. Sometimes, my list gets pretty long, though the books that make my “Must Read” short list are the ones that my mom, the guy who works at the bookstore, and a neighbor have all recommended, like Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese). Books being invited into so many different lives are the ones I want to get my hands on.

I also read two books a month for book clubs. One of my book clubs meets over breakfast with the kids and one meets in the evening with wine and cheese. Occasionally, these both happen on the same day during the month. Those days rock. I get to sit around with smart friends, talking about what they like and don’t like about reading. Who could ask for better market research than that?

My morning book club has shared with me stories by some of their favorite authors, like Love Anthony (Lisa Genova). I’ve been able to share with them some of the coolest voices I’ve ever had the privilege to read, like the voice in Room (Emma Donoghue). This week, I requested Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) for next month’s meeting from my Overdrive App, which lets me borrow eBooks from the Calgary Public Library for free. To my dismay, I’m number 81 on the waiting list, but that’s the kind of successful book I can learn from.

The ladies in my evening book club push the boundaries of what I’d normally pick up and for that I’m grateful. This year, our reading has taken us from Montreal, with The Imposter Bride (Nancy Richler) to the South Pacific of WWII in Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand), and even thrown in a little Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy), in anticipation of its film coming out. I definitely wouldn’t have chosen this list on my own, but I learned a little something from each.

Then, if I have any time left at the end of the month, after having read everything I’ve put on my list, I come back to MY classics. These books are the Young Adult novels that inspired me to finally become a writer. They are the books that have opened young minds to the sport of reading. You know the ones. Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), Twilight (Stephenie Meyer), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins). These books get to stay on my nightstand while other books come and go. Odd choices for my repeat reads, perhaps, though the lesson of having written the right book in the right place at the right time is the one that I hope to get right.

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