Monday, February 1, 2010


February 1, 2010

If you read the post title and thought you could tune into either a history lesson on 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in or hear me recount my own personal history of demonstrating, sorry to disappoint.

At the beginning of last month, I gave you a hint about how you could use a joint chocolate experience to show the one you love that they mattered to you. The point was to deliberately set time aside each day to share something good (as if there actually needed to be a stated reason to indulge in chocolate after dinner every night).

Today, I want to remind you of another activity you might pursue. Recall that I am a member of a mother-daughter book club. In fact, if you want to you can recall that I am 50% of the membership of my mother-daughter reading club. Over the last several years my mom and I have read the following books:

Gulliver's Travels--Jonathan Swift
Walden--Henry David Thoreau
The Grapes of Wrath--John Steinbeck
My Antonio--Willa Cather
I, Claudius--Robert Graves
Middlemarch--George Eliot
Mrs. Dalloway--Virginia Woolf
Heart of Darkness--Joseph Conrad
The Scarlet Letter--Nathaniel Hawthorne
Brave New World--Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451--Ray Bradbury
Pride and Prejudice--Jane Austen
Don Quixote--Miguel de Cervantes
Anna Karenina--Leo Tolstoy
1984--George Orwell
A Passage to India--E.M. Forster

And we made a stab at but didn't finish Ovid's Metamorphosis, The Koran, and Proust's gargantuan three-volume set Remembrance of Things Past. We are currently about a third of the way through The Arabian Nights.

Here's the punch line.

Demonstrate you care about someone by deliberately setting aside time to do something shared. It doesn't have to be your mother or your daughter. Focus on your spouse, your dad, your son, your friend, you cousin. Form a neice-aunt book club or a next door neighbor book club.

And really, it doesn't have to be books. Have a film club or chose operas to listen to (Italian, German, or Rock) or cook or camp together. My mom and her friend Phyllis took turns working on piano pieces to play for each other, thus checking the boxes by "self improvement" and "time with friends" and "expand your horizons." As busy as they are, Davis and Evi have their own book club. They have been reading For Whom the Bell Tolls for a pretty long while. Speed isn't what's important in this activity. The main thing is to spend some time talking about what you want to do together, to take turns choosing, and to find a time to process the experience.

And here's what you can do with me: share your ideas about your own very small club. Let me know what you do with someone who is important to you. I'm really interested.


  1. what about reading Scarlet Pimpernel?

    and what did u think of Anna Karenina?


  2. Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't read it, and we are always looking for suggestions. I will definitely add it to our itinerary.

    As for Anna Karenina, it was a little painful to read because the characters all have flaws and do things that leave you screaming in your head as you read, "No, Anna (or some other of the 15,000 different characters that you are struggling to keep track of), don't do that!" I think I felt the same way reading Middlemarch. Everyone is full dimensional. You like them some time, but you loathe them at other times, and frankly when they are annoying, it is not in an endearing way. That means you feel unsatisfied as the reader at least some of the time.

    I contrast this with the way you feel when you read a mystery. Most main characters in mysteries allow you to feel superior right along with them while they make their way through the case/book. There may be set backs but they come from outside, not from some inner frailty.

    In the end, I think I ended up appreciating the style and the story of Anna Karenina, even though I didn't identify with the characters. Thanks for asking.

  3. thanks for your opinion. i appreciate it greatly! i bought anna karenina and will be starting it sometime.

    i have one more question (actually 2), what did you think of mrs. dalloway and 1984? thanks again.

    p.s. erin is always missed. I am sure she is so proud of you. :)


  4. Stacy,

    I have read 1984 multiple times at different points in my life. I always think of it along with the other dystopic novels I read at the same time in high school: Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World. I think 1984 is definitely the darkest of the three. I actually liked it best in high school, then Brave New World, then 451. Now I think I would reverse the order.

    Mrs. Dalloway is a quick read, but best read (I think) along side some commentary. Without knowing the context or the British interwar years and the changes going on in British society, the book seems a bit pointless. With a little commentary (and perspective on the style--stream of consciousness) it is actually quite enjoyable and deeper than you expect.

    Remember you asked my opinion. I am not a professional by any stretch. Thanks for asking though.


  5. Thanks very much, Vickie, I appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion about books :)