Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Book Club


I started my very first book club at Venice Golf & Country Club in Venice, FL twelve years ago this month. It was called the "Lansbrook Ladies Book Club" and was open to all the women in our development.

This wonderful group of intelligent, well-read, gracious women have continued to gather monthly (except for summer) ever since that first meeting at my house.

Our first book was Personal History by Katharine Graham. It is not a book that I would have read by my own choice, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and isn't that the point of being in a book club?

I found, that by starting that book club, I became surrounded by a group of women who loved to read as much as I did.

Every month, we would gather to have a glass of wine or iced tea along with some good food to nibble upon. We'd share our thoughts & opinions on the book, the author, the subject and usually several other current topics of conversation as well.

We've stayed together and in touch via email for many, many years now. We enjoyed monthly meetings discussing everything from fiction to nuclear fission, poetry to politics and more personal topics, as well. There were grandbabies born, houses built, illnesses and celebrations of recovery.
There was also the occasional member who moved away.

After nine years, that member was ME...returning to Ohio to be nearer to family. I still keep in touch monthly with the book club and I, as historian, try to maintain a complete list of what books we've read as well as the location where they were discussed. Every member has been great about taking their turn to host the group.

It is such a special treat just to go and sit and talk at someone's home with dear friends and good food around you. Whatever is offered is appreciated and we always felt warmly welcomed in each others homes. We often rode to & from the event in our golf carts if the night was cool or rainy. What a parade that was!

In Feb., while back in FL for vacation, I was able to participate again in the book club discussions.
I loved being a part of this delightful group and I got to meet several of the new members who have moved into the neighborhood since I left. It is a very diverse group of women, all ages and backgrounds, nationalities, religions and temperaments. Most are very talkative but some...not so much.

My friend, Marge, in whose home we met, graciously allowed me to photograph her beautiful surroundings while we were there. She has oodles of lovely French pieces and the most gorgeously soft turquoise blue wall color that makes it an extraordinary escape for them to get away from the bitterly cold Canadian winters.






In keeping with the theme of the book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, she made a dessert mentioned ...Clafoutis.

Originating in the Limousin region, this country-French dessert is made by topping a layer of fresh fruit with batter. After baking, it is served hot, sometimes with cream. Some clafoutis have a cake-like topping while others are more like a pudding.
Though cherries are traditional, any fruit, (such as the plums she used) or peaches or pears can be used.

I thought some of you might be interested in seeing the list of all the books we’ve read so far.

Established 1999

Personal History -- Katharine Graham

Chris Bohjalian
Poisonwood Bible--Barbara Kingsolver
Shipping News--Annie Proulx
Love in the Time of Cholera--Garbriel Garcia Marquez
The Pilots Wife--Anita Shreve
Vengeance--Stuart Kaminsky
The Voyage--Philip Caputo
Tuesdays With Morrie--Mitch Albom
Map of the World--Jane Hamilton
Stones from the River--Ursula Hegi
Kaaterskill Falls--Allegra Goodman
The Brethren--John Grisham
A Widow for One Year--John Irving
Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made--Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down--Anne Fadiman
Prodigal Summer--Barbara Kingsolver
32 Cadilacs--Joe Gores
The Bonesetter’s Daughter --Any Tan
Galileo’s Daughter--Dava Sobel
House of Sand & Fog--Andre’ Dubus, III
Jekyll Island Club --Brent Monahan
The Lion’s Game-- Nelson DeMille
Paris in the Moon--Adam Gopnick
Skipping Christmas--John Grisham
Blind Assassin--Margaret Atwood
Companions in Courage~Pat LaFontaine
John Adams ~ David McCullough
Plain Truth~Jodi Picoult
Sea Glass~Anita Shreve
Empire Falls~Richard Russo
Bel Canto~Ann Patchett
Ava’s Man~Rick Bragg
Falling Angels~Tracy Chevalier
One Thousand White Women~Jim Fergus
The SecretLife of Bees~Sue Monk Kidd
The Dive from Clausen Pier~Anne Packer
Three Junes~Julia Glass
Under the Banner of Heaven~ Jon Krakauer
Life of Pi~ Yann Martel
Middlesex ~ Jeffrey Eugenides
Midnight Pass ~ Steven Kaminski
A Land Remembered ~ Patrick Smith
The Known World ~ Edward Jones
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter ~ Carson McCullers
The Good Earth ~ Pearl Bucks
The Kite Runners ~ Khaled Hosseini
Birth of Venus ~ Sarah Dunant
East of Eden ~ John Steinbeck
The curious incident of the dog in the night time ~ Mark Haddon
Tell No One ~ Harlen Coben
Mountains Beyond Mountains ~ Tracy Kidder
Light on Snow ~ Anita Shreve
My Sister’s Keeper ~ Jodi Picoult
Widow of the South ~ Robert Hicks
Clara Callan ~ Richard B. Wright
Gilead ~ Marilyn Robinson
The Other Boleyn Girl ~ Phillippa Gregory
A Prayer for Owen Meany ~ John Irving
Cannery Row ~ John Steinbeck
Eleanor Roosevelt, A Life of Discovery. ~ Russell Freedman
For Whom the Bell Tolls ~ E. Hemingway
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter ~ Kim Edwards
Madame Bovary ~ Gustav Flaubert
March ~ Geraldine Brooks
Snow Flower & the Secret Fan ~ Lisa See
The Glass Castle ~ Jeanette Walls
A girl named Zippy ~ Haven Kimmel
Water for Elephants ~ Sara Gruen
A Thousand Splendid Suns ~ Kahlid Hosseni
Hotel du Lac ~ Anita Brookner
Suite Francaise ~ Irene Nemirovsky
Seems I lost track of some of them this year!
The Reader ~ Bernhard Schlink
The Book Thief ~ Karkus Zuzak
People of the Book ~ Geraldine Brooks
Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon ~ Jorge Amado,
Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman ~Elizabeth Buchan
Crow Lake ~ Mary Lawson
October ~ Richard B. Wright
Beneath the Marble Sky ~ John Shors
The Help ~Kathryn Stockett
The House at Riverton ~ Kate Morton (blogged about HERE)
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, (blogged about HERE)
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vorghese
Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (blogged about HERE)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford (blogged about HERE)
Burning Bright by Tracy Chevelier
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Faith Club by Priscilla Warner, Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sklott

I really enjoyed discussing The Elegance of the Hedgehog with my group...
it is wonderfully written with a surprise ending.
I highly recommend it!

I miss doing the Food For Thought meme that Jain used to host. It pushed me to pay close attention to any mentions of food in my reading & to think about how I might incorporate them into a tablescape or simply a recipe blog post.

If you're interested in trying to make a clafoutis,
I found Ina Garten's Pear Clafoutis.
I trust anything Ina makes to be good!

Thanks for stopping by.
I'll be linking to:

Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life for
Table Top Tuesday,
Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for
Tablescape Thursday,
The Tablescaper for
Seasonal Sundays.

Oh & just for a laugh, here is a excerpt from a comedy club about Venice, FL.

"The 2010 census report was in the paper last week and I was not surprised by the median age of Sarasota County at about 55, which is my ages.
As we all know that is what makes this place the Fountain of Youth, youth is relative in this area. Anywhere else in America I am a senior citizen, but here, I’m a hot young stud! I’m a Longboat Key widow’s dream. Good posture, strong gait, all my teeth and I can still drive at night, which qualifies me for waterfront property. That’s how we roll in Sandtown USA.

Manatee County came in younger at about 48, which is no surprise because my peeps in Bradentucky still have jobs. Yea, they still work for a living there so they need a bit more energy. OK, OK, I know some people in Sarasota still work for a living, and for the most part they live in Bradenton or North Port if they have the gas money.

But the city that did kind of shocked me was Venice. The average age of a Florida Venetian is 68 years old. Wow, I knew it was older, but for an entire community that is freaky old. Who takes out the garbage, for God’s sake? That’s a life-threatening activity in Venice.

So here is the irony, last week I understand they opened the first traffic circle in Sarasota County on a main highway and they decide to put it in Venice. Really, a traffic circle on Jacaranda Blvd. in the city where Buick reigns champion and the city that natural hair color forgot and a place where the people are wonderful, down-home, sophisticated folk but can be challenged to drive in a straight line at any speed above an average jog. An active, fast moving, high-traffic circle in Venice, what are they trying to do, thin the herd?

If you are on a tight budget and in need of good cheap entertainment, just head down to the Venice traffic circle and pull up a lawn chair and a cooler and enjoy the show. It is much better than NASCAR.
NASCAR is predictable, but this is what I would call slow-motion creative NASCAR, times four."

I apologize for all the goofy text sizes in this post.
Blogger is acting weird again today!!
Bad Blogger! Bad!




  1. You guys have read some good books. East of Eden is my favorite book of all time. Have you read the Red Tent? Thanks for visiting with me, I so appreciate your kind comments!! I will come back to view some of your older posts!!

  2. I love my book club too! Thanks for publishing your list - I always like to get ideas from other clubs. In July our club is going to have a 'skype' meeting with a book club in England, all because of blogging!

  3. I don't belong to a book club, alas, so I LOVE book and food blog posts. This one was wonderful. It seems as if almost every book I've read this year has had some food reference (I recently finished Michael Lee West's Gone with a Handsomer Man and loved it!). I do hope you'll incorporate more book and food references in the future. I'm your newest follower.

  4. That is on my bucketlist to do one day. Join a book club. I think I would really enjoy this. I have wanted to do this ever since I read the book titled, "Angry Housewives eating Bon Bons". You and your friends have been through some wonderful selections!

  5. Rett, what a history with this group. That's wonderful. My husband read Elegance of a Hedgehog and raved about it. I've not read it yet, but it is on my list.
    Like you, I miss FFT, though I didn't participate frequently. Because of FFT I look at a book differently when I read now. ;-)
    Thanks for sharing your friends beautiful home. ~ Sarah

  6. The home where you met is so pretty, Rett. Love the Frenchy flair and I love the dining set. That's a lot of books you read! Thanks for stopping by, Rett and I don't think you are older than me....Christine

  7. I don't see Sarah's Key on that list, check it out for your club. Looks like it was going to be a good night.

  8. Glad you could get back together with the group Rett, your friend's home is beautiful! I didn't know FFT ended, although I did notice that Mary hadn't posted one for TT for the last few weeks.

  9. I love books, books, books and one of these days I'm going to join a club too. I have a friend who belongs to a "teacher book club" and we sometimes discuss the books from her meetings. BTW, that home is beautiful.

  10. What a fun and informative post, Rett. So many of those books look good. I agree with "A Perfect Setting" about Red Tent. I'm surprised that was never on your list.

    Funny about Blogger making the font bigger and I thought you did that on purpose to keep us awake. LOL

  11. My book club has ebbed and flowed through the years. It seems more of a challenge as our children grow older and more involved. One of our reads that is forever in my mind is The Red Tent. I don't see that on your list.

    - The Tablescaper

  12. I would love to have a book club! I have never been involved in one. I love to read too, but I do say blogging has cut into my reading time.

    Your clafouti looks wonderful. It is great to make in the summer when the fruit is so plentiful, read much cheaper! I see peaches in next week's market flyer, at a price I can afford!.99 a lb! Too bad I can't afford the gas to get to the store...4.59 a gal. Crazy!

  13. Your book club sounds delightful. That is one thing I have always wanted to do - start a book club. Maybe I'll actually get around to it after we move next year. Your experience makes me think it's definitely worth doing.

  14. Rett, I really enjoyed reading this post. What an impressive list of books your group has read! A couple of years back I joined a book club. Very, very nice people, but they all worked together (except me). Instead of book discussion, it became an office discussion! LOL!
    The home you pictured is beautiful. Glad you took some pictures to share.
    By the way, did you get my email a few days back? Just checking. :)


  15. Just when I think readers are endangered, here comes your lovely post. I wish I lived near you so I could join your club. I miss Jain's blog, too. I kept sending it to my publishers. Thanks for following Piper!

  16. What a lovely home; I especially like the kitchen! That dessert looks good. I'd never heard of it. I too belong to a book club. I am copying your list for ideas. I want to thank you for posting my tea swap - the more the merrier for sure!
    Blessings and hugs,Beth

  17. Rett,

    What a wonderful post! I have read a lot of the books on your list and will try some of the ones you have mentioned.

    I love the last article. Very true. LOL.

    Have a great week my friend.


  18. Wonderful post, Rett. You and your friends have a very impressive book list that you have read over the years. I can imagine how enjoyable it was to visit your friends again.

  19. This sounds like so much fun and the home you share is stunning. So pretty. I love the Nascar comment. Gave me a chuckle. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  20. I just finished The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, which would have been a PERFECT book for FFT *sigh*...I miss it! I wish I was in a book club here and how fun you got to go back this past Feb! I'll have to pick up The Elegance of the Hedgehog~ thanks for sharing your list! I have The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on my iPod ready to go & The Paris Wife is on my wish list, having just gotten back from visiting Hemingway's house.

    P.S. Thanks so much for your peony tips! I'll have to remember for next year. I had read that cutting the blooms makes them produce fewer flowers the next year, which I guess isn't true?

  21. hi rett, trying to catch up, with having sea dream now i am only home half time, so not much time to visit these days, but i have been loving your pics and really enjoyed seeing your book club live and in action! i have read SO many of your selections over the years~

    i am planning on starting a book club at the beach, so excited, i will base it on food for thought, should be great fun :)

    just waving hi and i miss fft and everyone else too, but dang i love being a beach bum!


Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I read them all & each one is so very special to me & I try really hard to return the visit!