I’ve loved books since I was a little girl and sharing the pleasure of reading with friends always deepens the experience, so I gravitate toward book clubs. Right now I belong to four different groups. One thing they all have in common is that it doesn’t matter if anyone likes the selection. Talking about the characters, plot and themes makes each story meaningful for every reader.
One of my groups has a leader who selects fascinating reads and guides our discussions. Another is delightfully disorganized; we choose books based on whim and our meetings are more like conversations. The other two groups rotate book selection responsibilities and whoever chooses the book leads the discussion. In all of the groups, our meetings successful because every opinion is welcomed.
Sometimes, though, there are special meetings when we listen instead of talking. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have the author as a guest. Last month, one of my book clubs had the pleasure of speaking with Zoreh Ghahremani, author of Sky of Red Poppies, a One Book, One San Diego selection for 2012.
This vivid novel tells the story of two Persian schoolgirls, one from a privileged background, the other from a deeply religious family, who become friends despite their differences. It’s a beautiful coming of age story set during the political upheaval of the 1960s.
Zoe shared her inspiration for the novel and answered our questions about the culture and history that she brings to life through her words. Her anecdotes and family stories, both funny and sad, added depth to my appreciation for her work and my enjoyment of her writing. Listening to her was delightful and now I want to read her novel all over again.
If your town has a program like One Book, One San Diego, try attending an author event. Or encourage your book club to read local authors and invite them to attend your meetings. I can almost guarantee that your reading experience will be enhanced. If you’re a writer, you’ll be inspired.