Friday, January 16, 2009

Book Club Tonight


So, tonight is my bi-monthly book club meeting at the local art museum. You may remember that I belong to a book club called "Artful Readings". Our book club meetings are led by a member of the education department at the museum, and often are tied in with the current exhibition there. Sometimes, books are chosen just because. I have been a member of the book club since its inception in 2002 (I think?). I love going to the meetings, because I love discussing both art and books. I find it always so enlightening to hear what other people think of a book. And 99.8% of the time, she has chosen books I would never have chosen on my own. But of all the books we've read (and there have been about forty or so), there have been only a handful that I didn't enjoy.

The current book selection is Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. Here is the summary from Good Reads.

"In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language."

What strikes me so much about this book is not so much the story, which is really interesting, but the language. The way that Roy uses words, and the way she uses capitalization of words, and the way she evokes feelings and sensory detail. I am finding it amazing. I love language. I don't use it the way I'd like to, and my grammar is often terrible (by my own standards), but I do love it so. I get lost in words and in what they evoke. I love when writers use very specific words to convey something, so you know exactly what they mean - like saying deep teal instead of blue-green. Maybe it's the poet in me that falls in love with words. But, whatever it is, I think I am in love with this book. It is a slow read for me...and maybe that is due to hovering over each word and thinking about exactly what it means. Maybe it's just savoring. Whatever it is, I am not finished with the book yet...but I am looking forward to the discussion tonight. And there's always wine and cheese, so you can't beat that!

And just in case you're interested (and you know I love me a good list), I've noted the books we've previously read in Book Club for those who want something new to read.


Chinua Achebe - Things Fall Apart
Vanora Bennett - Portrait of an Unknown Woman
John Berger - A Painter of Our Time
A. S. Byatt - The Matisse Stories
A.S. Byatt - Still Life
J.L. Carr - A Month in the Country
Michael Chabon - Gentlemen on the Road
Joe Coomer - One Vacant Chair
Claire Cooperstein - Johanna: A Novel of the Van Gogh Family
Honoré De Balzac - The Unknown Masterpiece
Mark Doty - Still Life With Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy
Sarah Dunant - The Birth of Venus
Karen Essex - Stealing Athena
Michael Frayne - Headlong
Jonathan Harr - The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece
Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises
Siri Hustvedt - What I Loved
Yasunari Kawabata - Snow Country
Michael Kimmelman - The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa
Camara Laye - The Radiance of the King
Naguib Mahfouz - Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth
Naguib Mahfouz - Thebes at War
Yann Martel - Life of Pi
Steve Martin - Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays
W. Somerset Maugham - The Moon and Sixpence
Nicole Mones - A Cup of Light
Orhan Pamuk - My Name Is Red
Iain Pears - The Portrait
Iain Pears - The Titian Committee
Arturo Perez-Reverte - The Club Dumas
Per Petterson - Out Stealing Horses
Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things
Jane Turner Rylands - Venetian Stories
Mark Salzman - The Laughing Sutra
Lisa See - Peony in Love
Jane Smiley - A Year At the Races
Zadie Smith - On Beauty
Calvin Tomkins - Living Well Is the Best Revenge
Paul Watkins - The Forger
Katharine Weber - The Music Lesson
Emile Zola - The Masterpiece

Let me know if you decide to read any of these! Tonight we will get (hopefully) our next three selections. So, I'll be going book shopping soon. I always love getting the new books. Anyway, I'll have a stitching update soon (probably over the weekend). Enjoy your Friday.

I am grateful for language.

8 comments:

Jennifer said...

I read Things Fall Apart several years ago for a college class - Post Colonial Literature. It was a great read, and has stuck with me all these years since. We also read Jamaica Kincaid and Amy Tan for the same class, and I think you might enjoy both of those authors (Amy Tan wrote The Joy Luck Club)

mainely stitching said...

Oh what a delightful list! Thanks for sharing!

Barb said...

Wow...what a great list. I am keeping this one! You are lucky to have a good reading group. Thank you!

Julie's Keepsakes said...

This is a great list. I wished I knew more about literature. I like literature, but haven't really given it enough room in my life. I was always good at the subject in school. In fact, language, English and literature were my high points.

Which books from your list do you NOT recommend, especially for someone like me who is a beginner yet again?

Teri said...

What a wonderful reading group and focus for selections! Thanks so much for the list!!

Ruth Rachel Vendsel said...

Sounds very intriguing! I love language and words, also. What a great book club you have there.

Brigitte said...

I wish I had such a book club around here. This book list is very impressive. I read Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson and loved it very much.
I'm curious to learn about the three new choices.

Enzo Selvaggi said...

Hello! I'd love to get in touch with you if you are interested in some commissioned work -- sorry I couldn't find a link or email address :(

enzo.selvaggi@gmail.com

(if you have a mac, www.enzoselvaggi.com)