Lately, the reading around here has been of the utilitarian kind.
Electrical Code Simplified sits on the table between our “cosy” chairs. My dad’s copy of Carpentry and Building Construction has replaced Rick’s morning paper. And my pile of Canada Small Farm magazines has a permanent home on our dining room table.
This household is on a major learning curve. And we have developed a grateful respect for well-written instruction and explanation.
Diagrams and pictures help too.
But still. One of my favourite feelings is the one you get after checking out a novel from the library and head home to put on the tea and find your reading blanket. It is delicious and giggly. Almost never fails.
That’s why the Wollaston-Limerick Library Book Club is such a treat.
Now, I have only belonged to one other book club. It met so sporadically one of our members nicknamed us The Ditherers. We met mostly at my house. Wine was involved. Cheese too. It was basically an excuse for a group of working women to get together and talk.
Stricter book clubs would have called us directionless. We saw it as relaxing and free-form.
The Wollaston club is different. We meet once a month in the Library. It is a portable classroom. It has no running water. No toilet. You can understand why tea is only served afterwards. It starts at 6 p.m. because that’s when Bonnie, the librarian finishes her shift. We don’t want her driving all the way home and back just for Book Club. We sit around a table designed for 10 year olds. But no matter.
Last month we read James Patterson. Apparently the best selling author of all time. Murder. Spies. General soul-sucking stuff.
Our group is made up of about 10 people. There is a mom and her teenage daughter. The town hairdresser. The woman who runs the bakery. A retired teacher. Some voracious readers. Some not. With one exception, we hated Patterson. It was not a good start to Book Club.
But this month was different.
The Ditherers would pick a title and buy it at the bookstore. Here, more of us are on a budget. So this year’s books come from a neat program at the Niagara Falls Public Library. They offer book clubs multiple copies of about 100 titles for the cost of shipping.
So we chose Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell, written in 1947.
There is a tone and a rhythm to Canadian novels. Even when they are challenging, they are still comforting. I don’t know what it is.
And this was no exception. It was sepia tinted story of childhood on the Prairies. A good yarn with a bit of existentialism thrown in for good measure. I found myself hurrying through my chores so I could find my reading blanket.
I wasn’t the only one.
On Book Club night we all talked about our wish for less structure, more quiet and lots of open sky for our children and grandchildren – how small towns give you time to think. Even when you are a kid.
Amazing how people who don’t really know each other can bond over a book. And how a book can inspire so many conversations. We shared stories about taking care of older relatives, attitudes about funerals, characters in our families, and personalities in small towns.
Reading can be solitary. Amusing. It can help you wire your house. But one of the best things about it is the excitement of talking to someone else who has enjoyed the book you just finished. That’s almost as good as cuddling up under that reading blanket. So even with no wine, no cheese or no toilet, the Wollaston-Limerick Book Club is a keeper.