Today's cup of decaf is with a book or 42...
It was September 2, the first Sunday of the month in September 2001. Just a few short days before the world, as we knew it then, forever changed.
My girls were very young and I was back to work part time. Life was consumed, as it is for moms of young kids, with drop offs and pick ups. Playing and snuggling. Going to work. Finding childcare. Laundry and meals. Baths and bedtime routines. At the time, I was able to exercise in the dark of the early morning, but pretty much had no other time to myself. The only books I was reading were the ones I read aloud to the girls at night. Don’t get me wrong! I LOVED those books! Goodnight Moon, The Little Engine, Olivia, Chrysanthemum! Then the Henry and Mudge and Mr. Putter and Tabby series! Don’t get me started! But, I had not read an adult book in years. Literally.
In Search of Friends
We were newish to the neighborhood, and just as the housing market went crazy, we had a flock of new neighbors. Within the first year that we purchased our home, we had a street filled with young families. All had kids the same ages as ours. It was a 1950’s dream, set in the late 1990’s. Our tree lined street, near the beach, with a park close by, and kids playing outside in the California sunshine. As I pushed the stroller to the park each day, I started to chat with the lovely moms up and down the street. I needed an excuse to spend more time with them and build friendships. And, I really needed to use my brain for something other than how many chicken nuggets and carrots my kids were consuming.
Mostly Wine, No Decaf
I invited a hand full of the moms to my home for some wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a book group. (We never drink decaf at these things). I don’t remember exactly how much lead time I gave, but somehow, we all managed to read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant before that first Sunday of the month. We sat in my unfinished basement and started the tradition of drinking wine, laughing a lot, and sometimes discussing the book we had read. We wrote in a notebook and, now and then, will still read sections aloud for hilarious memories. We have nearly filled three notebooks of varying sizes.
We Read it All
We read paperbacks only, best sellers often, and an occasional classic. Non-fiction, fiction, science fiction, and sometimes accidental trash. What was that one about the stripper? It was great to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher In The Rye, but when we tried to read Don Quixote, well… let’s just say it was an epic fail. Remember the couple of times we invited a local author to join us? That was interesting!
The small group grew up to 14 women over the years. It has shrunk and grown many times since. We still meet on the first Sunday, at a different house each month. We often eat full meals because everyone are outstanding cooks. We bring things to share. Show up in pajamas or dressed for the Oscars. It’s all good. Come when you need to cry, or don’t come for years. We will miss you, and you can always come back if you ever want to. Read the book, or don’t. There are no rules and we still have no system about how we decide on the book or who will host next month. There is always an email reminder before, and sweet email thank yous the next morning. Births, travels, careers, teenagers, have not deterred us from meeting each month. We have had many “moms gone wild” nights, and have stories we can never tell. Needless to say, we have aged into a much more mellow rhythm that seems to suit us just fine.
As I sat with these great women the other night, at our 18th birthday party, I smiled to myself, thinking that, in many ways, we are all exactly the same as we were 18 years ago. Even though September 11, 2001 changed the culture of the world, we have been able to hang on to our simple pleasures. Good friends, good food, and good books.
Love you always, Book Group.
I took a poll of the gals, and here are some of the favorites over the years. We tend to get a little enthusiastic. I tried to pare the list down to 18, but it was too difficult, so you are getting 42! (In alphabetical order, not preference order).
You can print out the list and keep it for reference when you need a good book to read!
Please comment and tell us your favorites!
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
Beyond the Sky and the Earth; A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa
Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
City of Thieves by David Benioff
Commonwealth by Anne Patchett
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verhese
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Like Water for Chocolate by Crystal Paul
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
New York by Edward Rutherfurd
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Pope Joan by Dona Wolfolk Cross
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseni
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Master Butcher's Singing Club by Louise Erdich
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
Pour some decaf and open a good book!