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July 17, 2008

Diana Loevy: Two or Three Things I Know about Book Clubs

Posted by carol
Today's guest blogger is someone who knows all about book clubs: Diana Loevy, the author of The Book Club Companion. Diana leads book discussions for the Connecticut Humanities Council and for private clubs and can be reached through her website: Here she shares some thoughts on what the summer season means for reading groups.

I hope your club is meeting this summer. My clubs are and attendance is almost perfect. In summer, the conversations are more vibrant and the moods are superb. People I know who are prone to sweater sets are currently rocking Bardot pants and Capris of mind-blowing shades of fuchsia and canary yellow. And making their first appearances are newly purchased summer bags that are not only on sale, they have been marked down like a million times. They are of nautical themes. Our bracelets from many lands jangle in the midsummer air.

We even wear shorts when we damn well feel like it.

We choose light beach reads, genre-benders and thrillers (that means you Nora Roberts, David Wroblewski and Lee Child), or classics. I cannot wait to discuss Death Comes for the Archbishop at the beach next month. It's from that hot, hot author Willa Cather. Under jaunty, striped umbrellas, we precariously balance our Starbucks, thermoses, books, pads and writing implements on creaky beach chairs brought from home. The seagulls inevitably swoop in but we are quick, channeling the spirit of Tippi Hedren. Then Karen strikes a warrior pose, which totally freaks out birds and people alike and the gulls fly away down the beach to torment some other club.

Sadly, I have noticed that summer can be the end of days for book clubs at risk. You feel on the cusp of disbanding throughout the year, certainly, but one exquisite July day you run into Posey or Jane at the post office and all eyes are cast down. No one wants to acknowledge that the club...just didn't make it.

Don't be gloomy, it happens. We move on. Take heart:

We are never afraid to say things like: "I read this book in the original French."

We reserve eye rolling for only the most egregious cases.

We use our iphones for instant club research --- and to impress, but of course.

We are never shy about describing our innermost feelings: "As introspective as I am, I could not stomach the themes in this book."

Our moods will not affect our hosting duties and entertaining styles and we will be the first to ask if you need anything, anything at all.

When on the town, we will reject under-ripe tomatoes en masse.

We will review our notes right before the club, written in our own hand on our favorite index or personal note cards.

We cite page numbers and read passages, but only at the perfect length, as we know there is zero-tolerance for tedium.

We are currently reading and relishing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Netherland by Joseph O'Neill.

We appreciate each other like never before.

--- Diana Loevy