I know that Rule 1 of Book Club is “You do not talk about Book Club.” So I mostly won’t. But I like the idea of experimenting with a little bit of readers’ advisory on this blog, since I don’t get to do a lot of that at at my [academic] library’s ref desk.
About the Book Club
I’m in one and a half book clubs, right now. The “half” club was the first one I joined (started), up here; it has a book assigned, but no read-by date and no meeting time set up. We also didn’t discuss our last book for more than a couple of minutes, at our last meeting. Hence my agreeing to join another one, right? (Though if anyone in that club happens to be reading this: I’m still in, if anyone else is.)
The newer one—brand new, since we just met for the first time yesterday—is maybe nonstandard in having more male members than female ones. I think that’s neat. We are also planning to cook thematic meals to go with each book we’re reading (a plan our next book may force us to abandon :)). Our first book worked really well for that! One member is also pushing for it to be a book-and-movie club, or for us to at least agree to go see any movies that happen to follow books we’ve read. (This will, again, work better for our first book than our second.)
About the Book
We read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Yeah, yeah, “young adult,” whatever. It was a fantastic book. I always enjoy a good life-or-death battle, doubly so when it’s wrapped up in all kinds of social (and political?) commentary. Dystopian future? Check! I am also a sucker for trilogies and longer series, because I like to watch characters develop over time. I’m not sure that was a major strength of this one—not to say there was no development, but I guess I hoped for even more. Most of all, though, I love a book with strong-but-flawed female characters. I feel like there weren’t enough of those in the “speculative fiction” genres, when I was growing up, so it makes me happy to see more of them now.
Although the club officially only read the first book, more than half of us continued through the full series. I listened to it on audiobook, which I would heartily recommend to anyone who spends a lot of time in transit, or crafting, or doing household chores, or exercising… OK, I pretty much think everyone should at least give audiobooks a try, and, if you’re looking for one that’s well-performed and easy to follow, The Hunger Games is a winner. (My only complaint: the narrator’s voice was much too low for a teenage girl, which was off-putting for about five minutes; once I got over that, it was great.)
As for the meal, to go with the book, I made wild rice and lamb and plum stew (UPDATE: it’s still available on Internet Archive). It was amazing! I’m not patting myself on the back for it; after all, I just followed the recipe. I only made two small departures: I used lamb stew meat (because that’s what was available), with the fat trimmed off, and I blended the onions after heating them—yes, whatever, I know I’m a full-grown woman in her 30s, but I still hate onions.
The other attendees brought hearty multigrain bread and cookies, both very thematically appropriate. And we had strawberry rhubarb wine, which is always a win.
More importantly, we had a good discussion—the group is fairly diverse in viewpoints, I think, and wasn’t even universal in loving the book. We all liked it, but to varying degrees. It gave us a lot to talk about, so I would definitely recommend it for other book clubs.