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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

1999 - Early Months

Escape started because of An ..... who had the brilliant idea of starting a bookclub. She gathered everyone together at her place in Jul 99. Some of us didn't think we could possibly read a whole book in a month .... but we thought we'd try! We all felt that our brains needed stimulating as we had young children, some of us did not get enough sleep, we were working, with too many things happening .... whatever it was .... life was going by too quickly and it seemed like a wonderful idea .... a special time to get away from it all. Not all of us knew each other as we all met at An's for the very first time. The first meeting was mainly to organise and set up how things would run, including the format of discussion. We came to the following decisions:

1. We would meet on the first Wednesday of the month, every month except for January.

2. Each member would have a turn at choosing one book to read for the year. The member whose book comes up for the month, would run that particular meeting. This would involve providing information on the author, background on the book and also organising discussion questions for the group.

3. We would hire our books from The Well as hiring allowed us easy access to many titles. It would also enable all members to read the same book at the same time so that they could be ready for discussion each month.

4. The person who hosted the meeting at their house would give out their chosen book on that day. That would mean that they would run the meeting for their chosen book the following month, at someone else's place.

5.  We needed a name and and after much debating, (The initial suggestion to call it An's Bookclub was quickly knocked back!! ) .... De came up with "Escape"  which we thought was excellent for it represented what Bookclub and reading meant to us.

And so it all began ................The group: An, Cat, Da, De, Ge, Hea, Je, Ju and Si.

What we read that first year in 1999:
(Names of those who chose the books and organised the discussion are beside each book)

Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
chosen by An

This was a great book to start a bookclub with. The Well suggested it and were very helpful with providing background information for us to use. Everyone found it interesting. Recommended!!

Questions to stimulate discussion found here:

Midwives (Chris Bohjalian)
chosen by Je

This was another good choice for a beginning bookclub.... possibly one of our favourite reads this year. Set on the outskirts of Vermont, it is about a midwife and the consequenses of the mistake she made while desperately trying to save a baby's life.

Authors website:
(audio of author commentry found on Midwives page ... approx 1:22)

Discussion questions:

Desert Flower (Waris Dirie)
chosen by De

The life of Waris Dirie who fled from her nomadic life in Somalia to become a model. Though some of us cringed as we read parts of this book, we found it very interesting, enlightening and also terribly sad. We felt that parts of the book seemed to be written by two different people ..... perhaps the presence of the writer who helped her write the book?  It was effective, though and we found it a quick read and a good choice for exploring in a book club. We also found a recently published (1999) Reader's Digest article which had pictures of her, including the very first picture that started her career. That article is still available online (without the pictures) and it gives a synopsis of the book.

Link to the Waris Dirie Foundation:

(Ca joins the group. Ca had been asked to join when earlier in June, but had spent a great deal of time thinking about it (she does a lot of thinking) and wondering if it was at all possible for her to read a whole book in a month ..... as she usually took a whole year or more to read a book in those days!)

House of Spirits (Isabel Allende)
chosen by
Si. (This was discussed at Indiana's where we decided to meet for Christmas dinner, that year.)  We spent more time talking rather than discussing the book that evening, for it was so good to get together and talk about everything else ... but we did try!! The book is about the life of the Trueba family spanning 4 generations. We were surprised to find out that it was actually based on the author's own family and the politics of Chile. This was Allende's very first novel and it was written while she was in exile. The novel is a great bookclub choice for it stimulates heaps of discussion.

Author's website:

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