Hot Lit Mommas
Chino Hills, California

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A STRANGER in a strange land  (it's southern California, after all) finds herself longing for her old book club. So she decides to start a new one. The end result is a terrific group of women who've become "family."

We talked with Rose Ruppert, who founded Hot Lit Mommas.

So texting got you started. Isn't that illegal?
Only if you're driving.

So you were driving,
No. I was with a friend. I was new to the area and told her I longed to be in a book club (I'd belonged to one in another city). She immediately texted people from her phone. Within 30 minutes she got responses.

Three weeks later, in January of 2010, seven women were sitting in my living room. I barely knew them!

Now you're up to 10—and you have lots of fun with books. Start with your Twilight activities.
We had life-sized cutouts of Edward and Jacob at two of our meetings...and themed food and decor based on the books (top-most photo).

We've attended all the Twilight movies together (since New Moon)—the day they opened in theaters.

During a marathon at a local theater, we held a Twilight Tailgate party and some of us had an overnight. One husband provided food and others brought the kids so they could see their moms being a little bit crazy. Our families understood that this was “Mom’s Day Out."

But wait, there's more...
Memory is a recurring theme in S. J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep. So our hostess assigned us homework—to recall a positive childhood memory.

What we did NOT know was that she texted our husbands/ significant others, asking them to send her their favorite memories of us. At the meeting, she had us open the messages and read them aloud. You can imagine how surprised we were by what some of our mates considered their favorite memories of us.

Speaking of husbands...
Right. They're not part of the club, but we urged them to meet one another. They all balked at first but have since met and become friends; they even started their own Guys Night Out!

You've also made "reading glasses"?
Right. For The Language of Flowers meeting, we painted wine glasses with flowers, using paint colors named jonquil, pink dahlia, pacific iris, and seaweed. (We borrowed the idea from another LitLovers Featured Club—Between the Whines). Each month the glasses go to the host of the next session so our "reading glasses" will be ready and waiting.

Let's talk about what you've read recently.
This is our list over the past year:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted
On Mystic Lake
Save Me
Fifty Shades of Grey
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
The Kissing List
Haunting Jasmine
Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral
Before I Go to Sleep
Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
The Language of Flowers.

Any all time favorites?
Yes—our first book, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. We still quote and recall the plot themes. We’d love to be like the book club in this book.

The Help—for its theme and writing style. We found it truly hard to believe that we are only a few decades removed from this way of thinking; it still exists in small pockets of America today.

Most of us loved Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could embark on a journey, like this one, while we are still alive!? We considered the various places that were important in our lives. We'd be world travelers!

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was one most of us had trouble dealing with. We are all in the season of motherhood, so many of the ideas presented in this book, seemed extreme. The Kissing List was also hard to follow due its short story format. It seemed disconnected.

What about particularly good discussions?
Most of our books spark lively discussions, but Half the Sky:Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide really opened our eyes to the world beyond. Because we are a multi-cultural group the book touched on our religious beliefs and cultural taboos. We learned a lot about one another’s morals and beliefs that night.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma had us considering cost versus convenience as we discovered where our food, comes from. This was a difficult writing style to read, but memorable.

And Save Me by Lisa Scottoline had us consider whether, if we were faced with the same choice as this mom, we would do the same thing. One of our members works in the same capacity as the protagonist of the story so it made the scenario more real.

You have a good list of club rules.
Everyone must read the book! It’s a courtesy to the host who is opening up her home.
During discussion we talk about the book. Socializing is beforehand.
A host does NOT have to feed us a meal. Some enjoy cooking; others find it stressful.
Always bring a drink to share. Some in our group do not imbibe alcohol, so some come with wine and others with tea, sparkling cider, or diet Coke.
Always RSVP to the host; it's common etiquette.
Everyone is free to express an opinion—in a tactful manner. We do NOT hurt others' feelings.
What goes on in bookclub STAYS in bookclub. Books spark very personal stories, and everything we discuss is CONFIDENTIAL.

Finally, how would you describe your club?
We are a diverse group of women from various cultures and religious backgrounds. Each month we learn so many things about each other. Over three years we've evolved from acquaintances into friends who share their deepest thoughts and insecurities. It’s humbling, sometimes, when a book resonates and brings us to tears.

We’ve shouldered life’s obstacles together and dealt with illness, death and divorce; it changed the dynamic of our group. But we’ve weathered the storms and continue to be there for one another We’re definitely more than a book club.


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