`Poisonwood Bible' is the choice

Book club

March 22, 2001

An interview with Lorri Roth, 28-year member of Columbia Book Club.

How long has your club been around? Well, Columbia began in '67. ... I would say soon after that - perhaps, by 1970.

Having been around so long, what do you think of the latest boom in book clubs? Oh, I think it's wonderful. I think it's indicative of the intelligence of the community and also the desire to meet with other people and get their opinions. Stimulating, I think.

What book are members reading this month? "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver. ... We [just reviewed] "While I Was Gone." As you probably know, Sue Miller [the author] is appearing at Supper at Six, which is being sponsored by Howard County library on May 9th. It's about a woman who, as a young person, was kind of a hippie person, and then she settles down into a kind of a different life. And then, coincidently, she comes across a person from her past and discovers that he has committed a crime. ... And she has to decide whether to turn him in.

How does your club decide what to read? We decide on a book by common consensus, majority consensus. And recently, someone has come up with the idea that the host brings three or four options [for the next month's book]. And it's also helpful if we check with the library first because we try to read books we can get from the library or that are available in paperback.

We read mostly fiction, but we also read some nonfiction or biography, memoir. And some of the books are fairly substantial, like Saul Bellow's "Ravelstein." That was a meaty book, but we had quite a bit of discussion. People were not daunted by having to work at it. It's a book about the friendship between two scholarly people, and it is believed to be based on the friendship between Saul Bellow and Alan Bloom, who [was] an educator and kind of a philosopher at the University of Chicago.

Which books have members especially liked? I think we all rather liked "A Widow for One Year," John Irving's book. It was fun reading, you know, fanciful. And there was a lot to discuss. It's a long book. It was about a woman, well, a couple who have two sons. ... And both of the sons are killed, and the mother is unable to get over that. So it's a complex thing. It's a complex story. So, it's sad, but it's also fascinating. In a way, it's heady, but it's interesting.

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