My book club is preparing for our last meeting before the summer break. As well as discussing this month’s book, we’ll be generating a list for next season’s reading. We have been doing this since 2000, with mostly the same members. Five of us could be considered charter members. We hover around nine members most years so over half of us have been there from the beginning and are still going strong.
Just for fun, I looked back at our previous reading lists. The very first book we read was the best seller of the time, Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone. I can’t say it was my favourite of all time, but I’m glad I read it just to know what all the fuss was about.
My favourites from over twenty years of book club include
- The Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard
- And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer
- Parallel Lives by Phyllis Rose
- Coventry by Helen Humphreys
- The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
- The Amazing Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
- The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
- Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
- Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers
- Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
- God’s Secretaries by Adam Nicolson
- Old Square Toes and His Lady by John Adams
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
- The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
- The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan
- A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier
- The Company we Keep by Frances Itani
- The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
- Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page
So, a list of 20 from over 200 books read. Ten percent. It is not that I didn’t enjoy the other books we read. Maybe 10% of them didn’t suit my taste. Usually these were books from the best seller lists. 😕
My personal biases are showing here as many of the books on my list are historicals, or women’s fiction, or Canadian authors. The books listed above are not necessarily the “best” books from our reading list, or the most popular, or the ones destined to become classics. What these books did was make an impression on me. I admit, that when I read over the titles on our old lists, some of the books I’d forgotten entirely, even though I enjoyed reading them at the time.
My list of twenty are books that became touchstones for me. Whenever I hear the word “Coventry” the story of its bombing during WWII instantly springs to mind. “Old Square Toes. . .” is about Sir James Douglas. I can’t drive down Douglas Street in Victoria, without remembering the book. I cannot read Charles Dickens in the same way since I read Parallel Lives. That is how I created the list. If the story, or the writing, or the idea has stuck with me, then the book made my personal list.
My friend, Laura Langston, often blogs about the books she is reading, but she doesn’t say if they have become an integral part of her memory bank.
As my readers group considers our next set of books, I’d love to hear of any book you think should be on our list. A book that left a mark on your heart or your mind. Please list it in the comments to this blog.