Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two great tastes that taste great together

It always kind of surprises me that I've never been in a book club. I'm a book-club kind of girl, right? I read a lot. I talk about reading a lot. So, reading + talking about reading = right up my alley, right? And yet somehow, I'm always a little bit too fickle in my reading moods and habits, not quite willing enough to submit to the schedule and the whole "other people telling me what to read" thing, to join a group.

Well, Glenna asked me this week if I'd like to co-moderate a 20th Century Book Club on Ravelry, the idea of Ravelry book clubs being that one reads and discusses the chosen book and, if the spirit leads, knits an item corresponding to the theme of that book (Example: Dante's Inferno = flame-y leg warmers). How well she knows me. Although I am a semi-contrary reader and a leisurely knitter at best, my love for early/mid-20th-century novels (we'll say 1915-1950) knows no bounds. I may choose my reading material according to the phases of the moon and the color of my socks, but that (Teddy) Roosevelt-to-Eisenhower period is nearly always on the roster. Besides, how could I say no to a book club for which I get to (help) choose the books? I said I'd do it.

The group hasn't started yet, but Glenna and I decided to each compile a list of 20 possible books, then compare notes; I spent this afternoon searching my mental to-read list and my collection of books about books (when in doubt, consult Nancy Pearl), and came up with not one, but two lists: Books I Haven't Read But Should/Would Like To, and Books I've Read and So Should Everybody Else (because I am nothing if not a literary imperialist). The results are as follows:

Books I Haven't Read But Should/Would Like To

1. Native Son, Richard Wright
2. The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett
3. Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather (What a title!)
4. A House for Mr. Biswas, V. S. Naipaul
5. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
6. The Flame Trees of Thika: Tales of an African Childhood, Elspeth Huxley
7. Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
8. A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor
9. All the Names (or other), Jose Saramago
10. Foucault’s Pendulum or The Name of the Rose or The Island of the Day Before, Umberto Eco
11. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
12. The Locusts Have No King or The Golden Spur, Dawn Powell
13. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
14. Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust
15. Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
16. Go Tell It On the Mountain, James Baldwin
17. The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain
18. The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
19. Amsterdam (or other), Ian McEwan
20. A Word Child (or other), Iris Murdoch

Books I've Read and So Should Everybody Else

1. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
2. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
3. 84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff
4. Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier
5. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
6. The Portable Dorothy Parker
7. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson
8. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
9. Harriet the Spy and The Long Secret, Louise Fitzhugh
10. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman
11. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
12. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson

So, bring on the semi-enforced reading and associated knitting!

(Ravelry is still in beta and therefore is by invitation only; however, signing up is both simple and free, and I believe the waiting list is moving quickly at this point. If you'd like to read and/or knit (or crochet!) with us, check it out. The more the merrier.)


Xerxes said...

If you are going to include The Phantom Tollbooth, then you really ought to add "A Wrinkle in Time"!

I tend to read only dead authors, I figure if some one has been dead 50 years of more and their book is still in print then they must have something to say!

There are exceptions to this rule of course, Hemingway comes to mind...

Liz said...

Oh, I do love A Wrinkle in Time. So, so wonderful.

Your 50-year rule probably isn't a bad one, if you *really* don't want to read anything fleeting...I'm not sure exactly who died in 1958, but I'm sure you could pick up at least one new (to you) writer each year. :)

Anonymous said...

Foucault's Pendulum - I don't know when I had to work so hard - or enjoyed so much - or spent more time going to the interent to check references - than when I read that book. Of course, anything by Umberto Eco is a challenge - usually well worth it.

ramarks said...

Sorry - for got to put my name on the previous post. By the way - I like you rnew header photo.

Anonymous said...

I am exactly of your mind about book clubs. Now if only someone would ask *me* to moderate one. But all the real-life (or let's say, face to face) ones I know of are joint choice - no good. Though it might be better if it was dead authors only, like Xerxes' rule.

Liz said...

Al, I do remember Brydon reading The Name of the Rose and saying it was high-maintenance, so we'll see. We picked it as our second book (after Rebecca). I'll let you know!

I'm glad you like my new header--I was never all that happy with the stripes, and it was starting to get to me. I'm feeling much better about what I've got now.

Liz said...

Heather, well, you could always start your own? The "Things Heather Likes" book club? I don't know. Maybe you're better off being an army of one. :)