The poet Muriel Rukeyser most famously proclaimed, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
No better proof of that dictum can be found than the conversation that occurs all around the world when readers assemble around a dining room table or a fireplace. The current name for this practice is book club, but it probably goes all the way back in time to the time of the cave dwellers.
Since the publication of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, I have been invited to speak to five local book clubs. Each one has taught me something new, but in the end, they are all about the same thing.
I’ve taken this word as my theme for 2014 and have placed it next to my desk.
Last night’s meeting with the great readers in this photo illustrated the point perfectly. Each person came with a list of questions and observations. We talked about similarities and differences among Mennonite, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic backgrounds, all represented in the group. We discovered how few generalizations can be made about religion and how important it is to listen and learn from each other.
We also talked about cars, divorce, clothing, family, and, of course, the best subject of all: grandchildren.
Being part of this club at the invitation of my friend Linda Heatwole Bland warmed my heart. So did the shoofly pie Linda made herself. And the gift she gave me — a special collector’s edition of Shirley Temple movies. What fun!
I want to remember to take pictures of groups when I meet with them. I forgot to do that a few times in the past, but here’s another remembrance of a wonderful evening in Harrisonburg. One of the things I love about being invited to book clubs is the warm welcome into other people’s homes –and the chance to see their heirlooms, art work, and other objects that tell stories. That’s indeed what we are made of, stories.
Being part of conversations among neighborhood book clubs makes me remember with fondness the one I left behind in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
However, the mug my neighbors gave me when we moved to Virginia still holds many memories along with a grande coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. I wrote this post drinking from the cup of friendship that ties my story to many, many other stories.
Are you part of a book club? What do you like most about your club? How does book club selection (and knowing you will discuss the book) impact the experience of reading for you?