In April 2011, a new book club held its inaugural meeting to discuss The Net Delusion by Evgeny Morozov. Two people attended. I was not one of them, because it was raining and I would have had to drive from Shively to Norton Commons.
A few months later, in better weather, three more people ventured out to talk about Hal Herzog’s book, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat (I was in this group). Gradually, the group gained more people, a name, and three years later, it’s still going strong.
In the first season of Friday Night Lights, Tami Taylor reluctantly goes to a book club meeting, where the members laugh at her when she says she enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees.
“Oh, we don’t read the book!”
Tami Taylor should join our Champagne and Fancy Cakes book club. We have all the stereotypical book club stuff — beer, wine, and bourbon, really good food that’s occasionally inspired by the book, gossip, AND we read the book (but we don’t judge if someone doesn’t). We also organize cool events. After reading How to Be Black, we coordinated a book club/happy hour with Baratunde Thurston while he was in town for Idea Festival. Best book club ever!
I’ve kept lists of the books I read for years. When I look at my lists since 2011, I can pick out each Champagne and Fancy Cakes book and can almost remember where we met for most of them. I hosted my first meeting for Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. We were at Erica’s when we met for 1 Dead in Attic, by Chris Rose (and when we found out Steve Jobs died). Six months later, we were back for My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe, where the evening’s snacks inspired our club name.
Picking the next book typically takes us longer than the book discussion, but we’re getting better at this. I love this part because it helps me add to my To Read list, which has a greater scope thanks to Fancy Cakes.
This book club has given me exactly what I hoped for when I joined it. I’ve revisited books from childhood (Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time), read books I should have already read (The Things They Carried), and ones I probably would never have discovered on my own (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). I’ve also tried some new wine and food (Hummingbird Cake, after The Red Garden), met some authors, and made friends with smart, lovely women who let me feed them fufu after we read The Poisonwood Bible.
I'm not worried about finding people to discuss books with in Cambridge. Maybe they'll have snacks and drinks. But I will definitely miss my Fancy Cakes book club.