I wonder when I'll have the time to read as much as I like. Time to sit outside on gorgeous, sunny Southern Arizona days and read for hours at a time. Will I have to wait until I retire? Maybe when my husband and I are empty-nesters, about 13 years from now?
At this point in my life, I can usually finish one book a month. My book club helps make that happen. After we wrap up our discussion of a book, the next woman on our alphabetical list makes a selection and sets the meeting date for the next month.
I'm up for February, and I'm feeling some pressure, all self-imposed. I've been spending way too much time pondering this decision. I want to select a book that other members and I will enjoy. I want to choose a book that will provoke some interesting discussions. When there are so many books that I want to read, how do I choose?
Some women have chosen books that had been sitting on their nightstands for a while. For me, that book is "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. The nonfiction book intertwines the stories of the architect of the 1893 World's Fair and the serial killer at that fair.
I could choose a book by one of my favorite authors. In the nonfiction arena, I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell, and I think his writings would spark a lot of dialogue. For humor, I like David Sedaris, and he has a recent release of short animal tales, "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk."
There also are some popular books that I feel like everyone but me has read. Two of those are "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson and "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Maybe these aren't the best choices for the group, but I'd really like to read them.
When the book club took shape six months ago, one member suggested we read some classics. That comment met with little enthusiasm, and no one has chosen a classic yet. My favorite book is "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. I've been intrigued by Seth Grahame-Smith's "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." Maybe a classic transformed would hold everyone's interest.
I've looked at Oprah's Book Club Collection and many "best of 2010" lists. "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen and "The Imperfectionists" by Tom Rachman are highly acclaimed and captured my attention.
I think what I'm missing in this search are personal recommendations. A big thumbs-up from someone who loved a book so much that he or she wants to spread the word to others. If you have a recommendation, I'd love to hear it.
If I don't choose it for February, I'll keep it on a list and get to it when I can - hopefully before I retire.
E-mail Kelley Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org