LitClub:  The Luna Book Club
Pittsburgh, PA

THIS GROUP'S BEEN around for 20 years—so long they could write The Book on book clubs. In fact, they have...

Talk about your book— Naked Came the Book Club?
In 1995 Dave Barry and a group of writers cobbled together a mystery spoof, Naked Came the Manatee, so we followed suit, each of us writing a chapter. Our only requirement was to include something about nudity in each chapter.

Sounds hilarious. Any plans to publish?
Yes, it is funny. But no—no plans to sell despite clamoring from publishers.

Okay, tell us about the books you've read (rather than written).
We've read close to 200 books over the years, so it's hard to single out only a few, but here goes:

Lonesome Dove
And Ladies of the Club
Moor's Last Sigh
Poisonwood Bible
Lovely Bones
Dive from Clausen's Pier
Glass Castle
Water for Elephants

We also read non-fiction:
Life and Death in Shanghai
The Professor and the Madman

What are you reading now?
Women Who Run with the Wolves, a series of folktales centered on women. Each of us is to come with one folktale chapter that best fits our own personality or life experiences.

A particular club favorite?
Eat, Pray, Love is one of our favorites.* The book inspired an incredibly rich discussion about our personal experiences and spiritual lives. We loved it. The host also served dishes from Italy, India, and Indonesia. (See our LitFood recipes.)

Any book that disappointed you?
The Interpretation of Murder had too many ideas and plot strands—it was hard to separate out one area to discuss. We felt as if we were being thrown everything all at once.

What kind of books appeal to your members?
We've evolved over the years. When we first started, we wanted entertainment—plot-driven books with plenty of romance and...uh, sex. Now we look for books that speak to us personally, that have a powerful message relating to our lives.

Also, at first we really didn't know how to discuss books. Today we "read" differently and have become fairly adept literary critics. We appreciate well-constructed plots and well-developed characters.

Any problems you could share with us?
A couple we've gradually resolved over our long span:

  1. We've learned not to compete over food. We're thrilled with whatever our host provides: a bowl of chips or an elaborate ethnic dish. We all lead busy lives and do whatever we can manage at the time.
  2. We all work hard to keep an open mind—and to tone down our disagreements about books. We believe that all points of view are valid.

How does your club operate?

  1. We meet monthly at each others' homes. One year we tried a restaurant setting, but it was too confining.
  2. We choose books monthly, sometimes 2 months in advance—everyone taking a month.
  3. If it's your book, you lead the discussion and host the meeting. It's a big job all at once, but it's only once a year.

Any rules?
We do have a couple of rules that we've developed over the years:

  1. No choosing your favorite book—it leads to hurt feelings.
  2. No more members. It's hard enough to make sure all nine of us get heard—there's a lot of interrupting and talking over one another. In fact, our teacher members say they would never put up with that kind of behavior from their students! But we love the spontaneity.

Any activities outside the realm of books?
Yes! We have sleepovers, every July we attend a theatrical production together, we write songs to celebrate milestones, and we even designed our own T-shirts themed to our book, Naked Came the Book Club" (nah, you don't really want to know...).

* Note from Editor: This group is cutting edge: Luna read Eat, Pray, Love when it first came out...long before it was discovered by Oprah and all the rest of us.

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