LitClub:  Sterling Women
Sterling, Michigan

club sterling2BOOK CLUB ENVY—that's what prompted Carol, the founder of this group of Michigan women, to start a club of her own.

So what specifically got you motivated?
I'd been listening to some of my co-teachers talk about their book groups and thought it would be nice to be in one. Then my mother passed away, and I realized how important relationships are with other like-minded people.

It seemed like the perfect time to build a "mini-community" of friends who share my love of reading. So I began making calls, and our group had its first meeting in 2010.

How many?
Eight at first, but we're now up to 14 members.

Tell us what you've been reading lately?
Over the past year, we've read...
The Last Juror
Light Between Oceans
The Imperfectionists
What Alice Forgot
Heaven is For Real
Boy's Life
Rosie Project
Power of One
Flight of Remembrance
What I know For Sure
Killing Jesus

Also, each of us chose a book in the Chocolate Mystery Series by Joanna Carol. All the novels take place in the state of Michigan.

Any favorites over the years?
The Glass Castle—memorable and had a big impact on on us.

The Thirteenth Tale—the unpredictable storyline got us! It was intricately woven and took us beyond what we thought was possible in a plot.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—strong characters and an amazing plot. Its story grabs you and keeps you going.

Moloka'i—fascinating historical novel (our group likes history).

Bad Monkey—no one liked it: bad plot and unrealistic characters. Carl Hiassen doesn't do his research.

The Imperfectionists—depressing and confusing, although some members enjoyed its historical aspect
Ladder of Years—unrealistic and unlikable characters.

Particularly good discussions?
Killing Jesus—some members liked the history, but others disliked the writer. The book also took us into a discussion of Catholicism; some of the gals went to Catholic school and have bad memories. Actually, our discussion became so heated that we added a new club procedure: everyone gets a turn to share her thoughts—without interruption—before we begin the actual discussion.

I Am Malala—we were fascinated by the girl's life in Pakistan, as well as her love for her homeland, learning, and her family. Everyone seemed to pick up something that spoke to them in some way.

Cutting for Stone—heavy reading, without a doubt. Even though it's a long book, many said they couldn't put it down. We talked about the characters—they were very original. We also focused on the twists and turns and unexpected changes in the plot.

Any club rules?
Chatting and eating is limited to the first 30 minutes of the meeting...though sometimes that half-hour turns into a full hour.

We start off our discussion sessions by going around the room, giving everyone a change to speak. No one is allowed to interrupt. This is our way of making sure each of us has a say. It's also a good way to encourage listening.

Special club activities?
Usually, we stick to snacks and treats. But occasionally, one of our members will tailor a meal to the theme of the book. We did this with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. We read the Chocolate Mysteries in February—Chocolate Month—and sometimes we see movies based on books.

What would you like us to know about your club?
Our members are in their fifties and sixties. We also have several English teachers in our group, (some retired), several stay-at-home-empty-nesters, and several are in the corporate world. Yvonne works in a law office and so likes legal themed novels, while our retired English/history teacher, Marlene, loves anything historical.

Many of us are avid readers: Julie read 20 books last winter. In fact, she belongs to another book club in Florida where she goes in the winter, and we joke that she's two-timing us.

More than anything, we enjoy getting together each month—to laugh, catch up, share information, and discuss books. All of us appreciate having read, even liked, books that we never "in a million years" would have selected on our own.

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