Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Take a Little Trip

What an enjoyable evening at Melissa's home tonight. Number one, her new house is looking so great and number two...THE FOOD! Always a highlight for my blogging, the food for this book club was wonderful. Melissa put together a few scrumptious dishes from the various places our dear, sweet Undine visits in this month's read, Custom of the Country. She tempted us with a French nicoise salad and creamy goat cheese with crackers, Italian bruschetta with thin slices of baugette and a dreamy New York style cheesecake. Not to mention fresh fruit and veg and iced sparkling/still waters. It was heavenly. Thank you so much to Melissa, who worked so hard to make everything so lovely. Huge success.

As for the conversation, Melissa also had some great trivia questions for us to answer and Ring Pop candies (that we could have "re-set" any time) as prizes. Our discussion included the topic of never being satisfied with what you have in the present in your life. We discussed our relation to Undine which seems to border on pure, unabashed hatred and maybe, sometimes, fear of similarity. Overall, I believe the club's feeling for this work of historical literature was "appreciation."

Please note the following change: Our October read will be The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Here is a little teaser:

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

This book club meeting will be at Peggy's house on Tuesday, October 27th. In November we will be reading Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas and meeting at Lorraine's home. Happy reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I must say that book club here in Torrance is exceeding my highest expectations. Cia hosted our most recent discussion group and it was perfectly lovely to be gathered together in her beautiful home. She prepared some amazing dishes for us to sample, including tandoori chicken, naan and white bean dip, dates with feta, fresh figs, fresh strawberries with homemade whip cream, pistachio shortbread cookies, almond cake and an almost flour-less chocolate torte. Sparkling water and raspberry herbal tea were there to wash all this goodness down into our happy little tummies! Thank you to Cia for her hospitality. Amazing.

Now, we know that Cia spends her summers abroad and while gone she is visiting family, riding bikes, chasing Thane around the train station and putting in grass with her own two hands, needless to say, there was little time to fit in our humble little book club read. However, Janice stepped up to the challenge of leading the discussion of our book. She did a great job of coming up with engaging questions that drew us back into this great book, about a great guy, trying his best to do a great service. Of course we had to be quizzed, and of course there were enticing prizes to be had! Diana and Kristen walked out with two very fun gifts for being so smart with their reading! Great job girls. I think that the overall feeling for the book was positive. I also think that after we started discussing the book, some opinions may have been changed from, "it was all right" to "that really was a great story!"

Now our next book is Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton. It is another different read for this group and I challenge each of you to get it done! Read it! Expand your repertoire! We will be meeting at Melissa's home the 4th Tuesday at 7 p.m.