clubbing it

The life of Pi is not an option. I’ve seen it abandoned on too many bookshelves. The Da Vinci Code? No merci. I already tried Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. Double no with cream.

It’s up there with scrap booking and carpools: book clubbing it. It doesn’t happen in Manhattan; it’s left to suburban women without Starbucks littered on their every corner. Okay, that’s not true, “Fourbucks” is everywhere. Well the buck stops there. 15 of my girlfriends and I are beginning our book club this month (we’ll meet to discuss books in Manhattan over hors d’ oeuvres and cokctails.) I managed to rally up the ladies, but now, of course, it’s time to choose our first book. And researching books online is a bit overwhelming, like picking a restaurant on There’s a beauty shot, a lovely review, then “here’s what others thought of it.” Books are very personal, almost like buying perfume. I think we need 3 choices, and then we’ll vote. Any ideas?



  1. What Girls Learn: A Novel, by Karin Cook.
    A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.
    The Dead and the Living, by Sharon Olds.

    all great choices.

  2. Gosh, where to start – you don't say what genre or style appeals. Well, off the top of my head and in alt-trendy good style, I'd start with Paul Auster: either the wonderful "Book of Illusions," which I think is the most recent one, or the elusive and equally wonderful "New York Trilogy," which was/were his first.

    If you have an historical bent, Iain Spears' "Instance of the Fingerpost" is a lot of fun and could use some talking through. In either conscious tribute or accidental emulation of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, it tells a story from several amplifying points of view, growing from the events on the ground to how they fit in the great scheme of things.

    Detectives? Robert Parker's novels or Michael Connelly's bestsellers are real worthies – I think Connelly's "The Poet" is the best of his bunch, and Parker's series with the female detective, is it Sunny? I forget. Anyway, they are great.

    Sci-fi? Nah, 15 New York women, not possible, never mind.

    "Mystic River" is a fine read, almost a sulky indictment to the crap ego-job Sean Penn did on that poor character in the movie, and an explication of how look-at-my-dick acting can swamp a story and the work of better and more mature actors (cough Tim Robbins cough).

    I'd recommend Stephen King's "Wolves of the Calla," but you'd have to read all of the rest of the Dark Tower books to get there, and though that would be a wonderful trek and one full of topics, it's a bit ambitious for the plan.

    Paul Bowles' "Sheltering Sky" is phenomenal, but long and possibly unsettling to the modern urban mentality. Same, to a lesser degree, with Ken Kesey's "Sometimes a Great Notion," which contains some of the best writing of its time. I've always felt that Nabokov's "Lolita" is one of the truly great books of the last century, and if that's already been read by too many then his "Pnin" is short, unusual, and lovely – a tender look at a sad-sack professor living life in a new country he will never entirely understand.

    Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" is a shattering page-turner of a read about a failed Everest expedition. Monster good stuff, very popular. Sebastian Junger's "Perfect Storm" is far better than the movie might have suggested, but without George Clooney.

    And I can't recommend books to yearning minds without mentioning two of the most exciting gotta-go travel-and-think books of the last decades: Peter Matthiesen's "The Snow Leopard," and Bruce Chatwin's "Songlines." Both are without peer.

  3. It's almost 10 years old (d'oh!) but Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" is an amazing book and I think a club of 16 women would have a very spirited discussion about it.

  4. I'd be more interested in Middlesex or The Stepford Wives. I feel like they may provide more food for thought and content relevant to our discusions as women.

  5. My vote is for The Stepford Wives or Naked which I've heard rave reviews about. I'd prefer not to do High Fidelity as I've read it and seen the movie…

  6. The choices are: The Stepford Wives, Naked, or Middlesex. Ladies, bring any ideas for the next book to our first meeting.

    I vote for Middlesex.

  7. I vote for Middlesex…I heard a wonderful interview with the author on NPR (yes, I'm a junkie), and have wanted to read it since.

    But I've got a bone to pick…what the heck is wrong with the Life of Pi??? I *loved* it!!!

  8. I vote for Stepford Wives or Middlesex. I've read Naked and loved it -but I know short stories aren't for everyone.

  9. Naked (which is collecting dust on my bookshelf) or Middlesex.

    I love all of the Stepford stories but I feel like I should read something totally new to me.

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