LitClub:  Hell to Breakfast
New Orleans, Louisiana

club hell-2-breakfast
IF YOU THINK book clubbers are sedate teacup-totalers, think again. This group puts the letters c-o-o-l into book club. But don't let that fool you...they do some serious reading.

Your name is a little, um.... So, okay, tell us how you came up with it.
It's from an antiquated slang term we discovered on some old flash cards—use it as in, "This botox will zap your wrinkles from hell to breakfast.”

Isn't that making fun of some of us who just might be in the market for botox?
Sorry. We're only in our mid- 20's and early 30's — too young to even go there. [Okay, that hurt. —Editor.]

OK, let's get down to business. How did your club get its start?
It was after Katrina hit New Orleans, and three of us realized that since the hurricane we hadn't seen much of each other. Then we also started talking about not knowing many good books to read.

One of our mothers, came to the rescue—"why not start a book club?" she asked. It would bring friends back together...and expose us to good books. Not only that, but she gave us a jump start with her own club's reading list...from the past 10 years!

Come to find out, we weren't the only ones who liked reading and missed an excuse to get together with good friends—within 3 months, our 3-person book club expanded to 8, and then 12!

What have you been reading?

Here's our reading list for the past year:

Monster of Florence
Skinny Legs and All
Lamb: Gospel According to Biff
Queen of the Turtle Derby
Elegance of the Hedgehog
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
You Shall Know our Velocity!
The Joy of Y'at Catholicism
Delta of Venus

Any all-time favorites?
We like Dave Eggars, a young writer whose style and sense of humor have strongly appealed to our generation. We liked both A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and his You Shall Know our Velocity!

We’ve also greatly enjoyed classics such as Love in the Time of Cholera, as well as The Bell Jar.

Which books have led to good discussions?
Freakonomics led to one of our most animated discussions, touching on crime, abortion, education, and racism. As young adults, we don’t often have the opportunity to talk about meaty ideas in a real "give-and take" environment.

We were also tickled by Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale. Aside from the fact that the writing was poor, we found it amusing when she talked about how painful it was to be in many of her "positions" all day! We themed our meeting with chicken strips, whipped cream and chocolate suckers.

As a co-ed club, are there differences in how you talk or choose books?
Only one of the guys has a strong opinion against anything too "girly" (and he only comes to meetings when we have fried chicken). But we don't often pick a book that appeals to one gender over another. And it's nice to have both male and female perspectives, especially for books like Lolita or The Bell Jar.

Anything special to spice up your meetings?
For Halloween, we read Edgar Allan Poe stories aloud by candlelight—that's pretty spicey.

We also try to have book-themed food as often as possible. In addition to the Porn Star theme (above), we've also done come up with menus for the following books:

What about outside regular meetings?
Every few months we see a performance of a play or movie. We do a table reading first, then see a production. So far, we’ve read/seen Steel Magnolias, Streetcar Named Desire, A Clean House, Twelfth Night, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Crucible, and Doubt.

How do you structure meetings?
Our meetings generally run about 3 hours (or so): At 6:00 we eat and greet, at 7:00 we discuss the book, and at 8:00 we deliberate and vote on our new book. We all very much enjoy our social time together, so meetings often run past 10:00 at night!

We always take a picture together, and we’re so proud of our book club that we’ve had t-shirts, backpacks, calendars, and cozies made bearing our logo and tag line: “ Hell to Breakfast: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Book Club!”

What's the "No Shirt," etc. mean?
It's the only rule we have: No shirt, No shoes, No book club! We really did have a guy who kept coming to meeting shirtless and shoeless, so we had to kick him out. He also never read the books, or brought anything to meetings and ate what everyone else brought.

How do you select your books?
We email a list of our suggested books that goes out to members before each meeting. We then vote on our selections from the list at the meeting. The voting process is very extensive, but easy to accomplish, involving ranking of interest and averages, so that everyone is satisfied with the decision. We choose one book per meeting, which is about every 4-6 weeks.

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