An interview with Rhea Simpson-Weber, founder of a book club in North Laurel.
What book are members reading this month? We are reading "Blackbird" by Jennifer Lauck. It is about a girl growing up in the '70s in Nevada, and she loses her mom in a tragedy. And it just talks abut her will to survive.
How did the group choose that book? We each take turns hosting the club at [our] house, and each person hosting is responsible for picking the book. And we try to do a little research on the author, and we discuss that. And [the host serves] a little dinner with the theme of the book, if [possible]. ... [The research] is pretty easy, actually, because you can usually get it off the Internet.
Are there any books in particular that members have especially liked? Yes, we loved "Cold Sassy Tree." That is a story about a small Southern town in the '20s, and mostly it focuses on this young man growing up, and his grandmother dies. And then his grandfather remarries in maybe two weeks. And [his grandfather is] very well-respected and wealthy, and the lady he married was very young. She worked for him. She was a hat maker. It's so scandalous. And it's really neat. The descriptions were just, I mean, you could totally live the book. And the accents were so well done, and the way the people were portrayed - because [our club has] a very diverse ethnic membership - was very realistic to the members.
You have participated in another book club. How does this club compare with the other one? I would say that this club is more dedicated to finishing the book. ... One of our guidelines is that you finish the book even if you don't like it because that adds to the conversation.
Does your group read any classics? We all tried to read an older book, "Mrs. Dalloway," by Virginia Woolf, and we couldn't even read it. It's very beautifully written, but it's almost like poetry. So you almost have to have a rhythm, so you forget what you read. You almost just have to have two days to just sit and read And one of our members actually got the Cliffs Notes for it because she couldn't stand it, and she didn't want to let everyone down. Little did she know [that none of the members had read it].
To join Simpson-Weber's book club: 301-490-5759.