Saturday, February 18, 2012

My New Book Club--Prepare to be Inspired (and perhaps a bit jealous)

This post is long overdue.
As certain of my friends have been quick to point out. (that's for you Jen!)
But the past 2 weeks have been even more hectic than usual.
And by hectic I mean pink casts on little daredevils, up till 4 AM nights with a sick baby and Valentines parties to plan for.
Read all about it here and here.
I've had this post nearly done for nearly 2 weeks.
And then each time I sat down to finish it up, something would come up and it was left undone.
No longer!
I've been anxious to share with you my new book club, or rather, reading society, as my friend Jen, the founder of our society, likes to call it.
I admit, reading society sounds pretty snazzy.

I know, I'm already in a book club.
And it's pretty awesome.  (well, mostly Cassie is awesome, but we all have done some cool stuff on occasion)
So when Jen asked if I wanted to be a part of her book club, I hesitated.
Too much book club?
When I came to my senses, I realized I had to be a part of this group.
Jen's vision included: vintage books (i.e. classics!) 4 meetings a year, (one per season) each meeting hosted by a different group of women, and each meeting rich with good food, good decor and good conversation.
Basically 4 great parties a year where we get to talk about good books.
It sounded perfect.
I couldn't resist.

2 weeks ago we had our first meeting--winter.
It far surpassed my expectations.
It was downright amazing.
I am already itching for our spring fling.
I've got lots of pictures.
So pour yourself a cup of coffee and pretend you're a part of the party.

Our winter gathering was hosted by Jen.
The rest of the meetings will be hosted by groups of 2 or 3 ladies, but our group was smaller at the start, so Jen did this all by herself.  (yeah--she's crazy like that)
For our first read, Jen chose The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
It has been a favorite book of mine since childhood.
My mom read it aloud to us when we were kids.
I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this book.
I've read it at least 5 times--probably more.
It is beautiful and real and true and deep and simply good.
It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939 and was America's best selling book in 1938.
Nowadays books like Twilight make it to America's #1 book.
How far we've fallen.
This is real literature.
You should read it.

When Jen was reading this book, she said she thought, "this would make a great party."
She made it a great party.

The Yearling is set in the swamps of Florida.
The Baxters are a poor family who scrape a living from the land.
Echoing themes of making the most with what you have, and finding beauty in nature, Jen decorated our table with recycled bottles, blue enamel "camping" cups, burlap, dried moss, and little pine cones.

Each place was set with this perfect little place setting.
You should have heard the squeals when we all arrived.

We started with drinks.
Orange juice, and whatever was in that mysterious green bottle, or hot coffee from the percolator.

She had my heart with the paper straws.

Jen chose to host at the Turtle Rock Nature Center.
Adjacent to the nature center is a little park, creek, towering Sycamore trees and this little brown barn.
It makes a perfect backdrop for our breakfast table.

So after drinks, ooohing, ahhing and lots of picture taking, we gathered our plates and dished up.

At first there was no book talk.
Just happy murmurs about how good all the food was.

Then we got to talking about the book.
Prior to our meeting, Jen sent out a package with this notebook for writing down our thoughts as we read, popcorn for munching while we read, book marks and the like.
Nothing gets you excited about a party like getting a package full of treats for the party.
It's all in the details.

While we talked, we finished our brunch and then had cake.
My plate was licked clean.

As we discussed the book, Jen offered up little treats.
Each treat was inspired in some way by the book.
Like this Briarberry jam and a bear claw to remind us of Old Slewfoot.  (read the book!)

And then this rock, attached to one of the most lovely quotes in the book.
If you want to know how deeply entwined in my heart this book is, read here and see how this very quote touched my heart.

For this former literature student and teacher, a morning spent talking over a favorite book was a little slice of paradise.
There were so many great things to talk about.
At one point, there were even tears.  (mine)
It was so lovely.
All dreamt up and put on by this beautiful lady.
Who also had her 11 month old son along, nursing cover, pack and play and all.
3 cheers for Jen!

The Details:
For those of you interested in creating your own book club like this, here's how we're doing it.
There are 4 meetings per year.
Each meeting is assigned to at least 2 women (no guys in our group, but how fun would it be to do this with husbands?) and that means you only host 1 meeting per year.
The team decides the book, theme, menu etc for the meeting.
They also decide how to divy
Each person contributes $20 per meeting to cover the cost of food and supplies.
We could meet at restaurant and pay $20 for a meal while we discuss the book, but we all like the idea of creating more than that.
As you can see, Jen made our $20 go a long way. 
Thus far, it seems like it is going to be a great book club.

Our spring read is Wuthering Heights.
Jen set the bar high, but I know the Spring meeting is going to be fabulous.
I can't wait!
Happy Weekend everyone.
Love from,

PS.  Just have to share this.  My friend Kristen (also in our reading society) recently took these pictures of Jen's family.  They (pics and fam) are so stinking fabulous.  Eeeek!  I have such wonderfully creative friends in my life.


Betsi* said...

Totally green with envy! How special!

hennymats said...

That's so amazing!

simply brookes: said...

how do i submit my application to be in this most grand bookclub. hook, line and sinker, i'm so in. what a delight to be a part of such a wonderful group of women, reading classic books, surrounding yourself with good food and rich conversation. i think this is heaven in my eyes.
my favorite post, ever, g. so so inspiring. already wondering how i'm going to incorporate my own from the two books clubs i'm currently in. wish we were neighbors.

Jillian in Italy said...

Wow...amazing book club. Love the classics that you've selected. And the whole day looked so inspiring (unlike my book club where we'd be lucky if 2 of the 10 actually read the book...we blame it on our newborns and mom brains).

kim said...

Love, love, love it! What a fantastic idea. So very jealous..... Thanks so much for sharing this. It really brightened my day. :-)

Will @ Bright.Bazaar said...

The stripe straws are SO fun! Thank you so much for the kind words on my blog today. Hope your weekend has been brilliant! :)

Anna, Oh yes! I like that. said...

Oh for goodness sakes this is just too amazing! Wish I could be a part of the best book club I have ever seen. I went to one once, everyone got drunk and a bossy English Literature graduate made two ladies cry.

Not exactly what I was looking for so I never went back!!

Cailan said...

I can hardly fathom anything this fabulous. Seriously, Greta! How do you find these people? Determined that I Will be inspired by this to just create the book club I have been dreaming of joining practically my whole life, Myself. In the meantime please forward directions on how I can somehow join yours from Colorado. ; )

Mama said...

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings house is very close to me and it's such a lovely place. My husband works in the library that has her original manuscripts...including The Yearling. I've see it :)!!