Belonging to a book club is a good thing to do...and not just for passing those dark winter nights when your usual social networks are hibernating. I’ve read books I would never have considered prior to joining. We mostly read fiction with the occasional non-fiction, such as Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken” or others like it, and we are democratic when selecting a reading list. Someone in our group once suggested 1920’s “Main Street” by Sinclair Lewis. I had evaded this gem during high school and college. The fact that a jealous Ernest Hemingway raged against his fellow author’s 1930 Nobel Prize for literature made it all the more delicious a read. Lewis penned remarkable descriptive prose, which still holds up. But it’s like that. We meet to trade impressions of the author’s skills with language, intentions, and their success or near-miss—always a lively exchange. As an author, one of the bonuses of belonging to a book club is to help me focus on my storytelling efforts when it comes to questions about clarity and word choice. Our last book was Minnesota author Leif Enger’s “Peace Like A River” (2001, Grove Press). Here’s an excerpt showcasing his skill. Writing in the first-person, he describes an incident during a road trip.
“…but getting closer we saw it was a crow after all, and dead. Struck by a car it lay all mashed to the road but for one free wing, which rose and fell by the gusts. It was a much more grievous sight than you’d think, a dead crow laying in the road out in the heart of noplace, and just before we reached it the wind brought up that wing again so it looked like a thing asking for mercy.”
Now, go forth and find a book club near you.