LitClub: Dead Authors
THEY'RE BIG TRAVELERS: not just through books but over oceans to pay homage to beloved authors. Though the writers are no longer living, their works have enlivened this group of devoted readers since 2006.
To ENGLAND? You all flew to England...from Colorado?
Yes, 7 of us. We went for two weeks in 2013, organizing our own tour to see Hardy's Dorset, Fowles' Lyme Regis, Austen's Bath and Bronte's Haworth. We also visited Oxford for Lewis and Tolkien and Stratford-upon Avon for Shakespeare.
How will you ever top that?
Well...there's New England. We're planning that trip years in 2 years in honor of Hawthorne, Alcott, and others.
Wonderful! So let's talk about your name...
We only read authors who are dead and have written at least 2 books. We pick 2 by the same author back to back, which gives us a feel for the writing and means that we read 12 books a year by 6 authors.
Neat concept. So tell us what you've read lately?
Here's what we've been reading over the past year:
♦ James Michener—Caravans and Mexicoo
♦ Ray Bradbury—Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes
♦ Vladimir Nabokov—Lolita and, for a twist, Reading Lolita in Tehrann (though not written by Nabokov)
♦ Frank McCourt—Angela's Ashes and Teacher Man
♦ Karen Blixen—Out of Africa and Babette's Feast
♦ Betty Smith—Joy in the Morning and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Any all-time favorites?
Angle of Reposee
Cry, the Beloved Country
In terms of authors, we all love Thomas Hardy, the Brontes and Austen. Each of those authors' books have unforgettable characters and beautiful writing.
What about books that led to particularly good discussions?
We had great discussion with Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire since he writes about areas we are familiar with. Faulkner and Erskin Caldwell were great discussion authors, and C.S Lewis with The Great Divorce and Screwtape Letters were challenging.
How do you choose your books?
We pick a whole year's worth in the fall for the following calendar year, rotating so that everyone gets to choose. We are a little ghoulish—as as soon as an author dies and makes the news, someone will send out an email, like" Tom Clancy is now available for book club." We might be the only book club for which authors don't want us reading their works!
Tell us about your JEOPARDY games.
In December we have a great time with a Jeopardy-type game with prizes. Our categories include, plot, author, characters, setting, and potpourri. Answers can go back for years, so it's a great memory exercise. We exchange used books at our Christmas party as well.
Other than trips to England (!) what other activities have you done together?
We've gone to movies together, dressed up as our favorite author or book character, and had a Poe party at Halloween where we read Edgar and did a "Raven" craft project (see photo).
We attend community reads events where we get to hear actual, LIVING authors...which is a nice change of pace. We just heard Khaled Hosseini of Kite Runner fame and last year loved Eric Larson speak on In the Garden of Beasts.
Overall, how would you describe your club?
The group started when Beth and her parents asked some friends if they'd be interested in starting a book club. Over the years, we've had people come and go, but we have a core group of 12 that's consistent. Sadly, Beth's dad, our lone male, is no longer with us but the rest of the group is pretty much the same.
We all enjoy each other's company; we support each other with life's big transitions—deaths, babies, illness; and we celebrate weddings, birthdays, and retirements together.
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