Alsask Book Club
We are a couples book club with eight active members: three married couples and a mother and daughter. We are finishing our second year in the spring of 2002.
Georgine, a long time friend, former student and mutual book lover and I decided to try a form a book club in our sparsely populated rural area in the spring of 2000. We thought of people who would enjoy the type of books we like and asked a few people. In the fall one interested soul was our United Church Intern's wife, a young Korean women who needed to improve her English and learn about Canadian culture. So we started!!
We began the 3 of us and decided to read Wild Geese by artha Ostenso. Jenny had to read with dictionary in hand but was very enthusiastic, had excellent comprehension and good ideas.
Next we chose As for Me and my House by Sinclair Ross<. By this time our husbands all showed an interest and joined for this discussion. (Jenny's husband as a student minister didn't have time to read but came along and said very little. They returned to Toronto in June of 2001.)
In the first year we also read: The Fire Dwellers by Margaret Lawrence, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and You Went Away by Timothy Finley. As you can see our first years' choices had a Canadian Lit focus. It worked very well for all of us.
In the fall of 2001, Wendy and her daughter Shannon,(38) joined us as well as Lori whose husband joined us after one meeting. We are now 8 people, all farmers/ranchers/farm housewives/and a retired English teacher. All have high school /technical courses or university education. We go from house to house about 5 to 6 times a season. We enjoy a glass or two of wine and some finger food after the discussion. We meet in the evenings and have found Sunday evening to be the most convenient for all. We take turns leading .....not the hostess. To help the discussions, we use the generic questions from the Canadian Book Club site on the net or if the book has been an Oprah pick we use her questions. Each has worked well. Certainly everyone wants to talk so we try to keep a lid on things by making sure that everyone has a chance to answer. The leader directs the questioning making sure that a different person answers first.
Choosing the books is the trickiest. We hope to all take some suggestions to our final meeting this spring and try and choose for the whole year. So far we have made sure that everyone got to choose one book. This past years choices have been:
- Cane River by Lalita Tademy
- A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
- The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
- House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
- Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
- The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
We are trying to choose books that the men would like. We find the Book Club discussions and the whole evening very sociable and all enjoy. Shannon, Wendy's daughter is also a farmer and her youth and perception really adds to our discussion.
Our Alsask Book Club has had another successful year in 2002-3. The selections we read were:
- In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
- Salamander by Thomas Wharton
- The Ash Garden by Dennis Bock
- Plainsong by Kent Haruf
- The Sculptress by Minette Walters
- Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
- Dolce Agonia by Nancy Huston
- The Englishman's Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe (for our wind up in June)
The favorites this year were Crow Lake and Plainsong. All books have generated enjoyable discussions. We are currently planning our reading for next season.