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the wonder of good books

by Shawni

There’s nothing like a book club. When Dave and I moved to D.C. shortly after we got married a friend and I started one, and I’ve been in one ever since. It’s so important to me because I’m not the type that will soak in the tub at night and read. Or sit down and read during the day. No. I’m the type that will wait until the last three days and cram in that book every second I get…at the dentist, at the gym, at a stoplight while rushing a carpool somewhere, etc. BUT, I get the book read because I have a deadline and I love it. I love to be taken into such a different world as I read. I love to be soaked into a girl’s mind as she struggles as to whether she should keep having her life turned upside-down being the never-ending “donor” to her terminally ill sister (My Sister’s Keeper), or to be swept away to medieval times and wonder in awe about the bravery of one woman in Pope Joan…or to think about ancient China, and the customs of the time when women had to bind their feet in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Oh, and to be able to root for a homeless girl who overcomes amazing obstacles (The Glass Castle).

Books take me to “places” I’ve never been and make me think about things outside my little realm of changing diapers and dusting blinds and hugging my kids to smithereens. Which is all good, but I want so much to be open to the bigger world…to see outside my little bubble here at home, and I want my kids to see that too. I love to savor those last few pages of a book that I love. For really good books I will plan out a time to soak in the ending. No reading the end of those books while listening to my kids’ piano lessons or in snippets while dealing with kids fighting in the back seat on a road trip. The surroundings have to be perfect for that.

I love for my kids to see me reading. They love it too. When I’m in crunch time for book club they always want to know what’s going on in my book. I love explaining things to them, and telling them the story. And then each time they see me reading after I start the story, they want to hear an update on what’s happening next. East of Eden was probably one that they loved hearing about the most. A lot of times when they see me cramming they’ll pull out their books too and come sit by me, and we’ll have a little impromptu “Read-A-Thon.”

I have somehow found myself in three book clubs right now. The one I’ve been in since we moved here six years ago, a ward one, and a Mother/Daughter one. Elle and I have had such a fun time in the mother/daughter one (it just started a couple months ago). We’ve read most of the two books so far together. One will read and the other will do the reader’s hair. Usually I’m the one who gets to read while Elle experiments putting my hair up in all kinds of different hairstyles. I love it.

This month I’m starting anew. Book club was last week and Dave and I purchased the new book for the month on our date tonight. I’m going to turn over a new leaf and get started early. Can’t wait to get immersed in The Thirteenth Tale...

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Brenna March 30, 2008 - 4:22 pm

Shawni, you are SO inspiring. Each time I read your posts I am amazed. I honestly don’t know where you find the time to do it ALL! You are so balanced! This is such a great idea… to be in a book club and force yourself to read so that all the other things in life don’t get in the way. Thanks so much for sharing.

stacy March 30, 2008 - 4:45 pm

i’m not a reader, never have been. never enjoyed it, always read really slow and got made fun of in school. it was embarrasing. i’ve always wanted to want to read. i know so many people who love it and when i hear them talk about these books that they love and i wish that i could love them too. today, you have made me wish that i was a reader. 🙂

Dancin Queen March 30, 2008 - 5:19 pm

I la-la-la love to read too! Love the book club with your daughter!

julie March 30, 2008 - 5:31 pm

I am a reader. I have loved it ALL my life. Wish I was in a book club. Maybe I should start one!

PS… I have made a list of all the books you listed and am going to read them, one by one!

SydneyMin March 30, 2008 - 5:48 pm

I love books 🙂 I read the Thirteenth Tale a few months ago. I had a hard time putting it down, even though there were a couple of parts that grossed me out enough to slam the book shut while my spine shuddered! Anyway, enjoy! i love the idea of a mother/daughter book club 🙂

Kara Jayne March 30, 2008 - 8:42 pm

I am so excited to be in book club with you! I just got the book to and now that the primary activity is over, and my sharing time month is passed I am going to start it!! I loved each of the books you mentioned. I’m so glad I get to hear your inspiring thoughts at book club!

Jennifer March 30, 2008 - 9:13 pm

Great post! I feel a lot of the same things (although I belong to 2 book clubs and never make it because I have other meetings… urgh) Anyway…I want your list. Looks like we’ve read a lot of the same books but I’m always up for another good read. I have East of Eden sitting on my floor just waiting to be picked up!

Claudia March 30, 2008 - 9:20 pm

I love our book clubs! I am always facinated by what others see or feel from a book. Thanks for inviting me to join you a few years ago!

nanapothier March 30, 2008 - 10:35 pm

This makes me homesick for my bookclub. I joined it almost 30 years ago and loved it so. The gals still are going strong but I’m out of the pictre for now. Glad you find such joy in it.

Jessie March 31, 2008 - 12:04 am

You make me laugh… I am the same way. I am cramming Eat, Pray, Love right now for my book club.
I love that you and Elle are in one together and read to each other. I can barley manage one book club. How do you do three?
PS…hope you don’t mind I stuck your blog link on my blog.

angie b March 31, 2008 - 1:07 am

I too am in a book club that I haven’t been very dedicated to so you have inspired me to take the time and actually go. I love it when I do and love to read.
I LOVE that you and Elle are in a book club. I can’t wait to do that with my Ellie when she gets a bit older. My mom has been encouraging me to do that. I will have to get your book list when we are ready to start that.
You ARE amazing…I love that you spend your time wisely and well. Your kids are learning so much from things you never have to say!

Nichole March 31, 2008 - 2:41 am

Shawni I am impressed! I think reading is so important. I dont know where you find the time to read for 3 book clubs. Your amazing! I am interested in the one you do with Elle that is such a great idea.

Michelle Rigby March 31, 2008 - 4:01 am

I love reading your blog.
If it’s ok… and I’m not going to crown your book club, I think I’ll take you up on the offer! I bought the book today on Amazon – it will be here on Tuesday! I can’t wait to start reading it!!!

Brigitta March 31, 2008 - 5:45 am

I love reading to and there is nothing better then a good book club. 3 book clubs how do you stay on top of it? I am just happy when I’ve completed my book for the month.

Marcie March 31, 2008 - 6:33 pm

Funny that I’ve read every one of those books you listed (except for the last) in my book clubs.

However, I have a problem with books. The second I get it in my home it SCREAMS my name until I finish it. I try to limit myself…..for my children’s sake.

In my heaven there will be piles and piles of books stacked near cozy couches and limitless mounds of European chocolate for nibbling.

Jamie C. March 31, 2008 - 10:01 pm

I have been a part of a cooking club since I got married 7 years ago. I love it. I love to cook though! I have yet to go to a book club because I really never LOVED reading. When I do read though, my house goes straight to pot! I don’t function until it’s finished. I do however, have a few vacations coming up where books will be neccessary, so thanks for a few suggestions.

So funny you met my sister! Wish I would have been in town to have met you too! Oh, and I love your little Grace’s smile! That last post about her school musical looked like it came straight out of a movie! So adorable!

Nichols Family April 1, 2008 - 12:15 am

I’ve only been in a book club for a year or less. If you haven’t read it, let me recommend The Boy In the Striped Pajamas by John Boyle. It’s a quick read but intense! Just my type.

Jen April 1, 2008 - 5:44 pm

Pope Joan? One of my favorites! We have actually read all four of those books you mentioned at the beginning of your post. They made me cry! I love being immersed in a good book and just letting myself be swept away by a wonderful story. And book club night is just therapeutic. I look forward to it all month!

Eyrealm April 3, 2008 - 8:01 pm

You are your mother’s daughter!
Love you forever!

Cheryl April 8, 2008 - 6:07 pm

I LOVE books. I have so many around the house and far too many boxes in the basement I just don’t have room for at the moment. I’ll have to check out your recent reads. It’s great to explore new options. There’s nothing like getting swept away in fantastic tales. Plus, what a great example it is for our kids to see us reading. It’s wonderful when they take off on their own and find pleasure in the written page as well.


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