LitClub:  The REAL Book Club
Mesquite, Nevada


This group claims to be the REAL book club. All the rest of you? Well, you're just not REAL. Sorry.

The REAL book club? Aren't other book clubs real?
They're not the REAL club. Our name stands for Retired, Energetic, Awesome Ladies. We're a group of 14 retired women who started our club 5 years ago.

Fair enough. So where do you meet?
In each others' homes—and our hostess feeds us. Sometimes the meals are elaborate, sometimes just pizza. It doesn't matter: it's just nice to break bread with one another. The point is friendship and discussion.

What books have you read?
It's hard to remember (we are retired, after all). Actually, by pooling our memory banks (and emails) we came up with our list over the past year:

The Listener
Tortilla Curtain
Peony in Love
Endless Chain, by Emilie Richards
Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
Memory Keeper's Daughter
Saddle Maker's Wife by Earlene Fowler
Home to Big Stone Gap
Chili Queen
Susan's Diary for Nicholas
Million Little Pieces

Any favorites over the past 5 years?
The Kite Runner—a story you can't stop thinking about after you read it. Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons generated a lot of talk about friendships. We also loved Winterdance about the Alaskan Iditarod dog sled race and The Da Vinci Code.

What makes for a good book?
Books that generate good discussions are among our favorites, although it's highly unusual for all of us to like the same book. In fact, our member Elaine dislikes many of our books until we start to discuss them—and then she often changes her mind. She gains a different perspective during the discussion and re-thinks her original opinions. [Be still my heart. As a former teacher, the most exciting thing about teaching literature was opening up minds and changing hearts. —Editor]

Which books have led to really good discussions?

  • The Tortilla Curtain could have been difficult because of its politically charged subject matter—immigration. It turned out that the discussion was a really good one with everyone contributing a point of view. No one got angry or offended.
  • The Listener, a short, simple book with a powerful undercurrent, generated a lot of discussion.
  • A Million Little Pieces, with its topic of addiction—and the fact that Oprah endorsed it only to learn that author had lied about much of the story—led to a good discussion.

Any discussion hints you could share with us?
The discussion questions we find on the Internet really help us create lively and interesting talks. They often allow us to learn more about each other, especially when our personal experiences relate to the story we're reading. If we don't use the prepared questions, our discussions can be shallow, or simply dissolve into nothing.

How do you select your books?
We choose once a month—using a rotation system. Whoever hosts the meeting chooses the book. But if the hostess can't come up with something, then we all throw out ideas. One member, Lucile, is like a walking library: she reads a lot AND remembers details, along with a summary, of everything she reads. Her suggestions are always excellent.

Do you ever do special themed meetings?
Yes, we've done several really fun themes tied into books:

  • For The Tortilla Curtain we had two types of food on the menu to represent the two cultures of the main characters. Champagne and quiche for the anglo-yuppie couple; tequila sunrises and chili rellanas for the Hispanic couple.
  • For Chocolat, Marjorie did a great presentation with lots of chocolates.
  • For The Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Joanne Fluke)...cheesecake, of course.
  • For The Wedding Ring (Emilie Richards), which had a quilt motif throughout the story, we displayed quilts, draping them over the banister of our hostess's cabin.

Have you done anything outside your regular meetings?
Yes! Last year we took a trip to hear Amy Tan do a reading in Las Vegas. Another time we met in Pine Valley, where two of our members have cabins, splitting the time between lunch at one cabin and dessert at the other. A forest fire in the mountains forced us to cancel a second outing there.

How would you sum up your club?
Easy. We started out as just gals interested in reading, but we've become a very close-knit group of friends. Over the years, we've gotten to know a lot about each other, visited in each others' homes and evolved into friends who care deeply about each other.

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